Many people in Westport fondly recall their friend Heidi Armitage, who died of breast cancer. Her life and what she went through for treatment inspired ESPN's Michael Greenberg to not only write his first novel—All You Could Ask For—but also to donate his proceeds to V Foundation for cancer research. To understand the personal issues that influenced the author, we asked questions of those close to them. The answers provide a meaningful perspective.
You can ask your own follow-up questions when Mike signs his book at Barnes and Noble at 1076 Post Road East, Westport, on Tuesday, April 2, at 7 p.m.
More at allyoucouldaskfor.com »
Heidi / from Stacy Steponate Greenberg — Mike's wife and Heidi's friend
Q: Who was Heidi? What do you want the book's readers and fellow Westporters to know about her?
A: Perhaps the best way to start is to tell you what Heidi Armitage was not. She was not a victim; she was not a martyr. She was not one who wanted anyone's sympathy. She was funny and cheerful, and inspirational right to the end of her life. Heidi, as many Westporters know, was a forty-three-year-old Coleytown mom.
She was vibrant and funny and sexy and endlessly energetic. She loved skiing and she loved chocolate. She celebrated the successes in your life every bit as much as she did her own. She deserved a lot better than she got in her battle with cancer, which was short but courageous. She had more friends than anyone you know, and almost every one would tell you they were Heidi's best friend. She had a sparkle in her eye that her disease could not take away. And, most of all, she was a wonderful wife and mother, and all of us miss here every day and will for the rest of our lives.
Facing Breast Cancer / from Dr. Richard Zelkowitz (Dr. Z) — hematologist and oncologist at the Whittingham Cancer Center at Norwalk Hospital
Q: In the book, the women who face breast cancer learn something about themselves. Have you seen this in your patients?
A: I've been doing this for twenty-something-odd years, and I lived it. My mother died from breast cancer. We put time away for everything in life—you have vacation, you have a baby, you plan to retire—you don't put time aside to get sick. You don't say, 'You know, well, at forty-seven I'll get sick for a couple of months, I'll get better.' So it always comes at an inopportune time, a time when you did not expect it. There are certain things that you can look at the causes: you smoke, so you can get certain tumors. But for a woman, for the most part, that's your risk for getting the disease. You didn't do anything to bring this on.
Yes, it always changes your life. You always look at things differently after, I would think, though I've never been a patient. When I think of all the women I've taken care of over the years, it changes things. My best friend is a cardiologist and he always says that no matter what he tells people—the worst heart in the world— they all say, 'Well, I don't have cancer.' It changes things because your focus is different. Maybe all of the things that are important become that much more important because you appreciate them more. I know I look at life differently because of this; I know these women do, too.
V Foundation / from Michael Greenberg — ESPN host and writer and Heidi's friend
Q: You are donating the author proceeds to the V Foundation for cancer research. What is it?
A: The V Foundation for Cancer Research is ESPN's primary charitable endeavor and has been since its inception twenty years ago. The legendary basketball coach Jim Valvano is the 'V' in the 'V Foundation,' and the charity was created in his name late in his battle with cancer. Just weeks before he died, at the very first ESPY Awards, he delivered one of the most famous speeches in recent sports history. It was brave and eloquent and funny. Mostly it was inspirational. That night he announced the foundation, whose motto is 'Don't give up, don't ever give up.' To date, over $100 million has been raised and donated in grants to fund research. That is where the author's proceeds from All You Could Ask For are going, every penny, in the hope that someday there won't be any more stories as sad as the one that inspired this book.
More from Mike…
Mike's novel, written in the voice of three women, begs the question: Can a man write like three women?
Find out what he has to say for himself at ESPN Front Row »
For more on “All You Could Ask for,” visit www.AllYouCouldAskFor.com and follow Mike Greenberg on Twitter (@ESPNGreeny); Stacy Greenberg (@StacyGSG) and William Morrow Books (@WmMorrowBks).