Diana Bosse’s irreverent humorous path of healing

By Chuck Gibson 

“The Perks of Having Cancer – An Inspirational, Positive and Humorous View of a Not-So-Inspirational, Positive of Humorous Inspiration” is Diana Bosse’s story of how the Loveland woman used humor to keep a positive outlook while fighting to survive cancer. Make no mistake, Diana Bosse does NOT think cancer is humorous or inspirational; humor was her approach to stay positive during treatment for the deadly disease. Here is how the book happened:  

Perks of Having Cancer book cover illustration by Steve Wallace (Photo: Chuck Gibson)

A friend was dying and Diana Bosse went to visit her before leaving on a planned vacation the next day.  She was not feeling well that Thursday evening, April 11, 2019. She’d been to her own doctor on Monday. During the visit with her friend, her own ill appearance caused enough concern they made her promise to get checked out at the hospital that night.

Bosse kept her promise and checked in at Bethesda Hospital Emergency Room around 8:30 p.m. on her way home. She called her husband Steve to let him know. It was seven months to the day since he was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. She assured him there was no need for him to come to the ER. She wanted him to rest up since he would be driving when they left for vacation Friday morning. It was about 3:30 Friday morning before she was the last one seen by doctors in the E.R.

“It’s three-thirty in the morning, I’m laying there and the doctor comes in and says, ‘Well, it’s not a bowel obstruction, extensive swelling of the lymph nodes in your stomach indicates you have cancer,” Bosse recalled. “Very frank, there was no sugar-coating that’s for sure. I think I was just in shock. When he told me it was cancer, honestly my first thought was: gee, I didn’t expect that. My second thought was: maybe I should have told Steve to come to the emergency room. Third thought was: I work for the Alzheimer’s Association, at least I have a chance.”  

Diana with her husband Steve Bosse (Photo: Courtesy Diana Bosse)

You have cancer. Not at all what Diana Bosse was expecting, not ever what anyone expects to hear, or wants to hear. She knew something was wrong, something different than anything she felt before. Because her stomach was so swollen and uncomfortable she wanted to commit Hari-kari.

Life changed in an instant, plans changed in an instant. It was the wee hours of Friday morning, April 12, 2019. Instead of leaving for their planned vacation, suddenly Steve was up driving to Bethesda Hospital to begin a completely different journey with Diana.

“I think I was in shock and then I was really depressed for a few days,” said Bosse.

She wasn’t really feeling sorry for herself, just not feeling well. The shades were drawn as she lay on the couch thinking what chemotherapy would be like since she already felt bad. It was beyond her imagination.

“I might not make it,” was a thought she recalled aloud. “I thought: I cannot have these thoughts. I can’t have these thoughts.”

Her mind turned to Mark Basler, a very dear friend who survived cancer more than twenty years earlier. The positive attitude he displayed throughout his battle left a lasting impression on Diana. Had he not told the people around him, they would never have known he was fighting lymphoma.

“He never complained, was always very positive,” she said. “He attributed his recovery, part of his recovery, to his positive thinking. I thought, I’ve gotta take the Mark Basler approach. That’s what I did.”

Diana with her inspiring survivor friend Mark Basler (Photo: Courtesy Diana Bosse)

GREAT ABS AT 56 “Finding joy in cancer may not be easy, but it can have its perks. Chemo is covered by insurance. Cool Sculpting is not. Once all the swollen lymph nodes in my stomach are zapped, I expect to be Bikini ready.”  – From “Perks of Having Cancer” Diana Bosse

Bosse started posting “silly things” on Facebook every morning as a way to be held accountable to keeping a positive outlook. Intent on staying positive with Facebook posts she called “The Perks of Having Cancer”, she soon realized people were enjoying it. They were sharing her posts with friends and relatives with cancer. People she would never have met suddenly became friends via Facebook.

“It was pretty cool,” she said. “It made me want to get up in the morning.”

She was suddenly motivated to get those “silly” perks posted first thing each morning. Bosse wanted to make sure it was on there before everyone else got up. People told her they would never get on Facebook before, but started checking every morning just to see what she had posted. This was no longer simply for her, but clearly brought value to her audience. Quickly it became clear there might be an audience for her beyond the confines of Facebook

Diana – going for those perfect abs (Photo: Courtesy Diana Bosse)

The idea of writing a book was not new to Bosse. Actually, she has written several books that were never published. Publishing a book is something she always dreamed of doing, but really never knew how to do it. Life kept getting in the way.

“It wasn’t very long into my perks when somebody made a comment that you should write a book,” Bosse recalled. “I thought if not now, when? Tomorrow is not guaranteed, and what if I’m not here? Cancer really puts things into perspective.”

The trauma of facing off against a serious disease made her realize it really was now or never. Posting silly comments about her own experience during treatment for the formidable foe was simply her way of staying positive through the fight for her life.

TOILET PAPER “You will not blow your budget on double rolls of Quilted Northern Ultra Plus, as all the money spent on trips to the bathroom to pee will be offset by the lack of visits to do #2. Chemo binds you up! I haven’t crapped since there was snow on the ground and it’s now spring. There’s a buzz of activity in my abdomen between the chemo kicking cancer’s butt and this big hunk of poop navigating a leisurely cruise through my colon. I can literally feel it at every turn in my intestine like a baby kicking. I’m thinking about hiring a midwife for its arrival. Plus, Steve and I are having fun picking out names. We are leaning toward “Enema” if it’s a girl.” Diana’s personal favorite from “Perks of Having Cancer”

No Mo Chemo celebration at Shooter’s in Loveland (Photo:Courtesy Diana Bosse)

The birth of the book really began to take shape within the first month of those quirky Facebook posts. Bosse started researching how to publish a book. Things happened pretty quickly from there. She received the diagnosis on April 12, 2019 – Stage II Leukemia Large Cell Lymphoma, a blood cancer doctor’s told her is “very treatable”.  August 14, she had her final treatment,  a PET Scan a week later, and just after Labor Day received news the PET Scan was clean. It seemed a lot longer, but from diagnosis, through treatment, to a clear PET Scan was only about six months. In that same time, a book had virtually written itself.

“The book was pretty much written,” said Bosse. “I had my proof in hand by the beginning of November and had my first book by November 19th.”

Diana with illustrator and friend Steve Wallace (Photo:Courtesy Diana Bosse)

Radio listeners couldn’t believe it during her first radio interview when Bosse told them “yes, it was this year” referring to her cancer battle. From cancer patient, to published author in less than nine months is pretty unbelievable. The publishing of the book seems almost like a fairytale.  A lot of things fell into place.

She had to find an editor. Bosse was able to connect with accomplished writer, editor, and publisher Pete Bronson whom she enjoys reading regularly in a local magazine publication. Turns out he is also her neighbor.

“I thought, Oh my gosh, I just need to reach out to Pete,” she said. “We talked and I hired him on as my editor.”

 As luck would have it, she also had a friend who is a talented artist and just retired from his career as an architect. Steve Wallace posted a cartoon as a reply to one of her Facebook posts. She asked him for permission to use it as the cover for her book. Then she hired him to create about 100 more cartoon illustrations to go with her “perks”.

“He illustrated my book as well as another children’s book at the same time,” Bosse said. “He said he never wants to do another architectural drawing again. He’s very talented. I think that’s half the appeal of the book – the cartoons that he’s done.”  

“Crazy stuff happens to you when you’re going through chemo.” – Diana Bosse

The audience Bosse found with “The Perks of Having Cancer” has been very receptive to her humorous approach. She’s been compared to Erma Bombeck who just happens to be Bosse’s hero. Self-publishing the book means she also has to do the marketing work. Since getting her first book in hand during November, Bosse appeared at four book signings locally.

Book sales have been good. Bosse was told selling 10 copies at a book signing is good. She sold 52 at her first signing, 61 copies at her second appearance and has sold more than 10 copies at every signing event.

“I feel really good about sales. It’s kind of an honor,” said Bosse. “I just feel like the book is a really good gift for somebody who is just diagnosed with cancer. It’s just a little something different. I think some of my perks can help put their mind at ease.”

Not everyone who finds inspiration from her book is fighting cancer. People have told her they found the book hilarious without fighting cancer. A friend of hers from St. Columban, where Bosse regularly attends mass, told her the book is not just for people with cancer. She relates to so many of the perks through her own battle with M.S. 

“It’s great that it seems to have helped many people,” Bosse said. “Cancer is definitely no laughing matter. I am not making fun of cancer. I’m making fun of me with cancer.”

People say the book makes them laugh. That type of feedback has made it all worthwhile for Bosse. One person told her that she reads it over and over on a bad day. The book fits all kinds of situations. When tired, you can read one perk and take a nap. When you’re up late, can’t sleep, read a couple perks. Bosse truly has written a book, not just to accomplish her dream of publishing a book, but for others.

“I knew when I was going to write a book, no matter what book it was, I wanted a portion of the proceeds to go to the Alzheimer’s Association,” said Bosse. “It’s where I work. It’s my original passion. I lost my mom to the disease. It’s really important to me. Of course to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.”

“The Perks of Having Cancer – An Inspirational, Positive and Humorous View of a Not-So-Inspirational, Positive or Humorous Situation” By Diana Bosse, Cancer Survivor Illustrated by Steve Wallace

Currently available for purchase locally at: The Bookshelf in Madeira, Joseph-Beth Booksellers at The Rookwood.

Order online at Amazon or on her website: DianaBosse.com

Diana invites you to follow her on Facebook at Perks of Having Cancer

Watch for details of future book signing events with Diana Bosse:

March 14, Girls Nite Out in Lebanon at Picture This Frame Store and Date TBD for LLS Give Back Day in late February.