Mother chronicles her son’s cancer battle, at his request

CHERRY HILL — Nanci Rainey chronicles the journey she took with her son Billy in his 23-month fight against cancer in her book, “Just One More Day in the Driver’s Seat.” He passed away in 1999.

“Billy was a strong young teenager, stricken with cancer at 18 and gave it a good fight until the age of 20,” she said. “The struggle cancer patients endure is beyond one’s comprehension. It is a terrible path for the patient as well as the family to stumble through.”

Billy’s older sister was in school at Rutgers-New Brunswick, but after her brother’s illness, she transferred to Rutgers-Camden.

“Her sorority had a fundraiser for Billy,” Nanci said, “as well as for our parish community, Queen of Heaven. We had so much support and prayers from family, including Billy’s two younger brothers, and friends. We did not travel this journey alone.”

After 18-year-old Billy received the news he had tumors in his abdomen, “he received the crushing blow they were cancerous,” Nanci said. “In the blink of an eye, Billy and our family were thrown into the most difficult battle we’ve ever had to face.”

Nanci kept a journal of her son’s ordeal and recorded his symptoms, surgeries and sufferings. “Just One More Day in the Driver’s Seat” is the story of Billy’s last two years on earth, told from his mother’s perspective.

According to Nanci, it was Billy’s idea that she write a book. She kept several notebooks during his many stays in the hospital.

“It was a standing joke with the staff that I was ‘writing a book’ whenever they saw me pull out my notebooks,” she said. “I didn’t miss a day of vital signs, Billy’s symptoms, whether he was having a good day or not, and what medications he was taking.”

She heard so many medical terms and the names of medicines she felt she had to write them down “so that I could review them later and try to understand and to remember what the doctor or nurses said.”

Nanci will be holding local book signings over the next several months at Barnes & Noble in Cherry Hill, 2-5 p.m., May 12; The Way Station, Glassboro, 1-3 p.m., May 19; and at the Collingswood Book Festival, Oct. 6.

More information on the book is available at www.nancirainey.tateauthor.com.

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