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“The Wait Is Over” - Sundance & Big Billy TO BE Published by Coping Magazine

Sundanceh's picture
Posts: 4408
Joined: Jun 2009

Does anyone out there still believe in the legend of Big Billy?




Well, take a long look in your rear-view mirror at the reflection staring back at you – because, today he became very REAL!


The Sundance Channel, in close association with Team Sundance, is proud to announce that “The Story of Big Billy” has been chosen for publication by Coping Magazine in an upcoming issue. 


The proposed dates for release will be anywhere after June 2013 to January 2014.  They release six magazines every year that cover a two month period with each release.   


This is an extremely proud day for me – a day that I thought would never come…and how I’ve waited so long and yearned so hard for the day when I would be able to deliver some good news on the cancer front. 


For those who have known me from the beginning, or anywhere along the line, I’m sure that your chests are puffed out today as well:)  And that’s because we all knew how much hard work it took to get to this point. 


Who is Coping Magazine?


About Coping® Magazines and Websites

For 27 years, Coping has been a source of knowledge, hope, and inspiration to people worldwide. When you need positive and helpful information that relates to a specific medical condition, Coping can help:

Coping® with Cancer Website
The Coping with Cancer website is a complete online experience that educates and inspires. It is presented in a warm and friendly, easy-to-use format, and provides information by specific cancer type, general knowledge about living with cancer, and wellness and inspirational topics. The Coping media team is constantly adding relevant articles and trustworthy resources. The website is provided as a public service by Coping® with Cancer magazine and does not accept advertising.

Coping® with Cancer Magazine
Coping with Cancer magazine is written by and for the cancer community with help from our editors. A wide variety of professionals share their knowledge and experience in easy-to-read, relevant articles, and patients, caregivers, and survivors share their strategies for coping. Add in the latest news, FDA updates, resource lists, and exclusive interviews with celebrity cancer survivors, and the result is a publication that provides a unique editorial environment. Coping with Cancer is read by more than a half-million people in the waiting rooms of America’s private practice oncologists, urologists, and cancer treatment centers. It is published six times each year and individual subscriptions are available by mail. A Waiting Room Distribution Program is available for physicians and organizations.

You know, as I’m sitting here, having just pasted this info, I’m beginning to realize that this is really a big deal and just doesn’t just happen.  They get a ton of submissions and I’m all too painfully aware of how easy it is to wind up in the slush pile of an editor’s desk, despite your best intentions.


I mean, this is all kinda real now….our audience now has just swelled to 500,000!!!


Can any of us really fathom what those kinds of numbers really represent?


I’ve talked to hundreds in my time here, but hundreds of thousands – a half a mil?????


That’s some heavy enlightenment right there, let me tell you…


You guys told me I needed a broader audience – but, this is ridiculous:)


I will add that this is a serious trade magazine and they have a sterling reputation to uphold, and so making it here is truly an honor – to be able to represent every one of you – and the entire cancer community at large, no matter what our cancer is.


Big Billy crosses all boundaries with his ideology – and he transcends all the lines of cancer, as his message is universal to all of those suffering with the affliction we refer to as Cancer.


But, he will always be “your” Semi;Colon:)


When he was born, his full name was Big Billy BadA$$....he was known as the guy… Who $hit Lightning – and Crapped Thunder!


I’ve had to soften him somewhat to make him more readily acceptable to the general public…..and Coping softened him some more, LOL!  (More on that later on…)


I had a friend of mine (we no longer talk) and when I told him about Big Billy and what I planned to do with him, he scoffed and laughed in my face and told me it was stupid. If he were here, I’d quote Toby Keith and say…”How Do You Like Me Now?”




It was always a dream of mine to bring Big Billy to life – I wanted to give him an image – I wanted to give him a voice – I wanted to fill his head full of thoughts – and I wanted him to have dreams and ambitions, just like I did. 


At the core of it all, I wanted him to be my alter-ego in the cancer fight and become an extension of who I was, while still remaining fiercely independent, just like his Texas brother was.


For everyone else, I wanted his spirit to manifest itself into an embodiment of an image that cancer folks could readily identify and connect with – no matter what cancer scars they carried – or where they found themselves in their own personal walk with cancer.


Looks like I created my very own “Frankenstein.”


You know, when we write posts, it’s always in the I version…..I got tired of doing that and when I first introduced Big Billy to the board (I had waited patiently), I thought it would be clever to allow him to talk “for me.”


So, I became He…


And it was really cool to be able to write something like that, using the 3rd person persona….I’m always looking for new ways and new angles to present stuff to people…I patted myself on the back for that one, LOL!


Of course, the good thing was that I let the community in on the gag, so we could all play along with it and still have some fun, even in the cancer world:)


I never gave up on him though….and that’s why this is also such a proud day….


Big Billy is bonafide now – he’s too legit to quit…


Now, we can never take him back….he’s an official member of our community now and I hope he will be warmly received going forward.  He’s sticking up for you every single day – even if you don’t know that he is. 


Let’s switch gears and talk about how all of this came together…


First, none of this would have come together, if it were not my new dear friend….Jen2012…


It was Jen, who got motivated to research websites, determined to find an avenue that she could present to me.  She exhibited her human compassion right out of her dear heart, to help me in my endeavor to get some of my work published. 


She has burned an indelible groove into my heart…and there she will stay for a lifetime.  (Thank you so much, Jen, for all you did). 


Now, all the time I’m talking about cancer and how we can manage certain aspects of it from time to time…


The biggest lesson that cancer has taught me is what a universal problem it really is.  Cancer is almost not the story anymore….unfortunately, it’s becoming all too commonplace these days.


So, then the real message of cancer is ‘how’ we manage our feelings with our actions. 


To me, the ability to look beyond yourself and your own needs (no matter how dire) and give of yourself to try and help another person with their life is one of the areas where we can achieve a victory over cancer.  By choosing this pro-active path, we actually empower ourselves by taking some sense of control of our lives back from cancer. 


And by the giving of our thoughts – our time – and our hearts to somebody else, it temporarily diverts our attention of feeling completely sorry for ourselves – and redirects our focus over to the humanitarian side of cancer, where we derive the benefits of connectedness through social interaction, through our sharing of intimacies, and the feeling that we are doing something positive – when all around us feels negative. 


And it’s the best damn feeling there is in the world – to truly know that you have made a difference in somebody’s else life – and your own too.  There is a calming and a healing quality that comes from this that is unequaled in this realm, which we all occupy. 


Jen, you are a living example of the practices that I try and teach others…


I’m just so proud of you, Jen, and very grateful to know you and be in a position to accept your help with the grace, love and the spirit, with which it was given. 


It means the world to me and not because the story was chosen – but, because, I know how harried and busy your schedule is with all that you’ve got going on every minute of any given day. 


And so, you reaching out to me by taking  your time and energy when all around you is swirling is what I’ll always remember – and what I’ll always treasure – and what I’ll never ever forget.


You’ve made a real difference!  And we’ll all get to see the evidence in the coming months when they publish the article.  Instead of this being another ‘have-to’ time, it is now a time that is filled with special love and hope for the future – for me – and for all of us.


So, originally, I sent them the LMS story…and then I decided to also re-write the Big Billy story twice to see if I could trim it down to possibly making their cut.  I decided to take a bold step and go ahead and submit that one as well.  I told them that it was favorably received by the cancer community. 


Coping Magazine is a cancer magazine and they deal with survivor stories, stories of inspiration, and most importantly how people COPE with their cancer diagnosis. So, I figured that the BB story would give me a better chance at being considered for publication. 


(Cope is a request for a post that I will still be writing for Jen, Chels, and LindaK.)  :)


The Big Billy story was the kind of story that would play well in a publication like this one.  It was the perfect kind of story.  It is my favorite story that I’ve ever written (so far).



They said it would be two-months before I heard back, which was right about Memorial Day.  When I returned to work after the holiday, I was getting this ‘itching’ feeling – that feeling of anxiousness and discontentment. 


Something wasn’t right in the universe – and I could just feel it…


So, I sent an email to Jessica just ‘checking in’ to see if they had reviewed the story.  And she said they were still reviewing old and new submissions and would get back to me shortly.


That got me to thinking….


LMS was a great story, but it was still long for them to publish and I knew they were not going to invest their space with that story.  I knew another rejection (though kinder) was just about to come my way. 


But, I remained hopeful that the Big Billy story would make it….


And still, I got the feeling that we were somehow going to come up short with this reach…


I decided to roll the dice and leave it all on the table with the one roll….


I took a bold move, because I could sense that Jessica was wavering somewhat – I could tell that she and her staff liked the material from both stories, but were  probably trying to figure out what to do with me:)


No surprise there – the world just (ain’t) ready for me yet:)


And somehow, I just knew that while she was thinking about it and wanted to get me in there, that I just wasn’t going to make the cut (yet again). 


I flat-out told her…”If a cancer patient can’t get an article published in a cancer magazine – where do you think I’ll ever be published?”


Sometimes, you gotta’ be as succinct as that, LOL!


I thought, well, I’m going to have to sell myself hard here if I’m going to make it with this one.  Should I go for it – or should I just let it ride?


I pulled the trigger, of course…


I figured I’d better get them to see me as a person and see if I can use any of my Southern Schmooze to soften this honey up some:)


So, I wrote her another email and included links to the Dr. Phil audition I did on YouTube and told her to watch the first six-minutes or so – and she would have a clear indication of who I was – and where I was coming from – and what was driving me so hard.


And then, I wanted to show her that Big Billy was flesh & blood….so I gave her the link of Big Billy singing Johnny Cash on video – that I did especially for Cynthia & Rick.


Lastly, I decided to show her a few sample responses from our community here on what members thought and felt about my writings. 


I figured we’d either win – or I would blow any chance that I might have had. 


But, I told Jessica that I felt comfortable enough with her to share these kinds of intimacies and that I felt that writing her and sharing these links with her was worth the risk. 


Nothing ventured – nothing gained, right?


Was I right?


Well, I guess we know the answer to that one now:)


She emailed me right before I left work yesterday – and believe me, I was trying to hold it together in the lab, where the two other goons who are trying to make my life miserable and get me terminated from my position were.


I really had to put on my poker face…


When I read it, I just started shaking and got all of these funny feelings…I didn’t know what else to do, but write Jen, and shout the news from the rooftops, LOL!


I had monitored my YouTube videos and the counters had remain unchanged for months now….but I noticed that they had each taken a few hits….which told me, that her staff had been looking at them:)


Maybe, I finally got somebody to see me as a ‘real’ person and not just a Query Letter…I honestly think that has hampered my previous efforts to get an agent to accept my manuscript.  It’s cold and calculating with them – all money driven.


But, when somebody can see you as a real person, with real feelings, then that can sometimes be a game-changer.  In our case, perhaps that was the key. 


At any rate, we’re going to be published !!!


There’s some paperwork I have to fill out and sign and provide a picture etc.etc……


There’s more…..:)  Always more with me, as you know:)  Things are always bigger in Texas, LOL!


We are actually getting a “2-Fer!” with Coping Magazine…


While they were unable to print the LMS story in its entirety, they decided to use “3” of my quotes from that story that they will be putting in future magazines in a section called Reflections, which is an inspirational section of their magazine. 


They will be sporadically interspersed between editions, as they do not always do this section with each release of the magazine. 


But, for you…..


Here are the ones they are going to be using:)


  • “We change with cancer, but the world doesn't change with us. And then it tries its hardest to drag us back to being the people we used to be but can't be anymore. That's because the scar of cancer has redefined who we are, and we find that as we move forward with our thinking and our feelings after this life change, we simply can't go back. And in a strange twist, we really don't want to go back." - Craig Harrison, three-time colorectal cancer survivor, (insert city, state)
  • "I have to be the one that puts meaning back into my own life." - Craig Harrison, three-time colorectal cancer survivor, (insert city, state)
  • "Cancer is a great teacher and is always teaching us lessons if we're looking for them in the right places with the right frame of mind. We must repurpose (give a new purpose or use to) ourselves during our times in the cancer world. The ability to reinvent and reinvest in our potential and pay it forward to others is what we are called upon to do here. Repurposing is a gift that keeps on giving. And cancer can never take that away from us - ever." - Craig Harrison, three-time colorectal cancer survivor, (insert city, state)


So, both stories they enjoyed and all along, they were busy editing and figuring how to get me in the door.  Because, I had sent the last email out (schmooze) and a couple of days later, we had our answer.  They already had edited my story to make it fit their requirements and loved the LMS story and decided to repurpose that story with those quotations. 


Pretty cool stuff…Cool


Like Johnny Appleseed, I’ve spread my one-liners over nearly 3900 posts, in the hopes that one day I might be remembered like Phil’s Joseph Campbell and Robert Louis Stevensen. 


I guess if you spread enough manure around – something’s gotta grow out of it, right?




Anyway, it makes me feel good that something that I’ve said will go down in print and that we now have the opportunity reach a half million people with this publication - those numbers just stagger me. 


I will tell you that they did have to edit my story (quite abit) in order for it to fit into the format of their magazine.  They deleted some pretty good stuff (hurt a little) but left the structural integrity in place, so that the message was not lost.  We lost some embellishment, but not the core part of the story.


Having proof-read it, I’m satisfied with what they did.  If I’m going to be published, I knew I was going to have to make some concessions in order to get the article to press – or risk not being published at all. 


I understand fully that one has to pay their dues when they are getting started with anything and this made me think about Toby Keith, who sang at rodeos and gymnasiums along the way to what he would become.


I have no grandiose conceptions that I’ll ever amount to anything beyond this...


But, this was an important and very big step – and might be all there ever is, but there might be more, I just don’t know.  But, if I die tomorrow, then I guess I’d want to be remembered for the Big Billy story – as his legend will carry on far past my death.  


For if we keep one close to our hearts – then they truly never perish…


One last funny bit of trivia for the Big Billy project…..


Coping has a limit of  700 words or less…..the version I sent them was nearly double that….and even with them editing the story down further….it still clocked in at 716 words…..16 words over the speed limit:)


It seems the rules don’t apply – guess that makes me an Outlaw:)  Cool  Where's my Outlaw Emoticon, LOL!


Where’s PhillieG?


Hey Phil, I’ve been patiently waiting to tell you this one for a couple of years now – Time and Patience, remember? LOL!


I finally get the sense now of what Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show felt when they combined to sing those famous lyrics…


“But the thrill we never know / Is the thrill that’ll get you / When you get your ‘pitcher’ / On the cover of the Rolling Stone”……


This is also a bittersweet day in another aspect….


I’m so proud to be able to share this story with you as I’ve shared most of my life with you….but on the other hand, I’m saddened that so many of my friends are not here with us to share this event too.  There were so many, who waited for the opportunity that came too late for them, but I did the best that I could.   


My heart is saddened by their absence(s) and I will especially miss their words….


I hope that my other friends, who have moved on with their past cancer lives might still see this and stop and comment.  There are many living, who also have waited for a day like this one for me to finally deliver something.


What helps keep me grounded at a time like this, is when I remind myself of the words that Crosby, Stills & Nash told us…..“Love the one(s) you’re with…”


I’ve got so many people to thank…


I wanted to thank Jen once again for her diligent effort to guide and steer me to this site (don’t think this was by accident)….and I want to thank Jessica from Coping Magazine and her editorial staff for their interest and care towards making this story a reality. 


And I especially wanted to thank the entire community for all of your years of support for me and my writings.  While I knew I could occasionally construe a lucid thought or two in some type of coherent fashion, I really needed the validation and support from the community that what I was feeling and thinking could somehow resonate and connect with you.   


It was through all of that gentle nudging and persuasion that gave me the confidence to go ahead and write my cancer book.  The board provided a safe landing zone from which I could explore all of the human trials that go along with cancer.


There was a 25-year period of time where I never wrote a word.  From the time, I was in a creative writing class and I caught a professor on a bad day or he had an ax to grind or something – to one year past my diagnosis, when I was alone and beginning to feel the rumblings of needing to express myself once again. 


That was a lot of time wasted and it altered my life in many ways.  Often I think if I could have run into some encouragement at that time when I really needed it, there’s no telling what direction my life could have taken.


It reminds me of Marlon Brando, when he so famously said…..”I coulda’ been a contender…”


I know it’s been a lot of rough news this year on the board this year, so there has been a lot of sadness all around. 


From time to time, we still need to be reminded that there are many kinds of victories being won out there…and while this one will not beat cancer, we have struck back – and perhaps some of the multitudes that will be in the waiting rooms when this comes out, will draw something from that experience.


I’ll close with this last thought…


Last night, I was about to turn in and all of a sudden I was overcome with a huge rush of emotion…


While I was reveling in how good it felt to be accepted and published, all of a sudden, I began to realize where the inspiration came from.


It dawned on me that Big Billy rose from the Ashes of Folfiri – a drug that nearly killed me….certainly a drug that killed my will to live. I got choked up for a second and sobbed three or four times, before I regained my composure – it never lasts long, but somehow it just came out. 


And then I thought of how something GOOD finally did come from cancer and chemo after all. 


It’s amazing how out of the depths of despair, when I was ready to quit, that something as good as the idea of Big Billy could be born – the human spirit amazes me.  Big Billy means a lot to me and I hope that he means something to you as well. 


My best wishes to each and everyone of you for taking your time to share in this chapter of my life – and it means so much to me to finally deliver some good news regarding this subject. 


I know many folks probably figured I’d never do it….you’re not alone….I didn’t either….and I was extremely discouraged and had pretty much stopped trying, until Jen rescued me with her link. 


You just never know who you’re going to save from drowning out there:)


I’ll keep you posted on any updates with the project…


Stay tuned to the Sundance Channel – “Story Matters Here”


All my love & respect and best wishes to you & yours…keep going…


-Craig aka Big Billy Cool




Posts: 520
Joined: May 2011

You were there for me.  You deserve all the recognition This will bring. Thank you for being here and now for all those in oncology offices and treatment centers your words will  continue  to support and inspire courage.


jjaj133's picture
Posts: 869
Joined: Mar 2011

woohoo i just saw this. I am so proud of you. And i am so happy a good guy finally won.




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