People often ask me how I found out I had Kidney Cancer. The answer is simple: a horse.
The Journey began six months after I started riding a horse named Cowboy. In the fall of 2008, Cowboy's personality completely changed. He kept wrapping his head around me and bumping my lower back with his nose. At first I thought he was trying to bite me but, as it turns out, he was trying to tell me something was wrong. One day, while practicing emergency stops atop Cowboy, I felt a small snap in my back. It was the exact spot where Cowboy kept bumping me and, as I put him in the barn, he again bent around me to place his nose on my back as he stood very quietly. My doctor ran a battery of tests over the next few days which revealed that I had a very aggressive case of Renal Cell Carcinoma. I was referred to UCSF because the cancer was so advanced. I told the treating doctor there my concerns, that I wanted to ride Cowboy again, and that not being able to ride again was not an option. Her exact words were, “I will never take away something that will keep you alive.”
Cowboy the Magic Horse is about the actual events that happened. When I was first diagnosed, all the colors in my world faded away and everything was black and white. One day, while waiting to see my Oncologist, I met a little girl full of life. She was going though treatment for cancer. She sat and talked to me, so full of hope that it dawned on me that hope is something we should all have. Cowboy and that little girl gave me hope. This book is my attempt to tell children everywhere about the wonder of horses, but especially to provide children with medical challenges and their parents a place to visit that has color, joy, and hope.
It is our dream to be able to provide copies of Cowboy the Magic Horse free to Children's Hospitals everywhere. If you have an idea how that dream might be fulfilled, or know someone who might, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
In the meantime, enjoy the ride!
(aka “Cowboy's Sheila”)