Book published posthumously inspired by the journey of cancer


Proceeds from the book sale will raise funds for the West Island Cancer Wellness Center in Kirkland.

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The recent Zoom launch for Rachel Devins’ book “We root, we leaf” is a testament to a vital spirit that left this world too soon. A hybrid event hosted by the West Island Cancer Wellness Center, it was both a book launch and a celebration of life attended by many who were inspired by her.

Edited and published posthumously, the book is a collection of essays, emails and poems documenting Devins’ final chapter, from the first diagnosis to his death, and was co-edited by four women who knew and loved the wife, mother, sister and friend of Beaconsfield. , aspiring teacher and writer who died of cancer on June 21, 2014.

“She was a dancing spark of joy, energy, desire. She opened up every cell of her body to learning, ”recalls Lorna Crozier, the award-winning Canadian poet and teacher who edited the poetry portion of Devins’ book. “I later found out that studying with me was on her wish list.”

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Devins met Crozier when she attended a poetry workshop at the Wintergreen artists’ retirement.

“One of May comes this dynamic force named Rachel Devins,” said Crozier. “She threw herself into the poetics of the moment… I taught these classes giving an incentive to poetry… and she came the next morning almost shaking with excitement while waiting to read her poem.

Following the workshop, Devins planned to attend Crozier’s next session in January. That fall, Devins learned that her cancer had returned. Devoted to her writing, she continued to work with her mentor via email.

From his initial diagnosis to his death, Devins faced his cancer journey with characteristic disrespect. When she started losing her hair, the only wigs she could find didn’t meet her fabulous fashion standards, so she got some flamboyant wigs from vendors who sold to drag queens.

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Devins created an alter-ego cancer warrior princess called Batsuhiro who helped her cope with her hair loss, and in the process, she discovered the people she met, from the parking attendant to the hospital where she went for treatment to her cancer team. , were all bred equally.

Before long, the Indomitable Diviners founded Project Rockin ‘Locks, providing funky wigs for cancer patients who wanted to wear more flamboyant wigs. When Fluevog Shoes heard about their project, they hosted an in-store event and donated 50% of their sales to the project.

“She threw herself into the most beautiful bodycon red dresses, crazy wigs and frivolous shoes… like those from Alice in Wonderland,” said Crozier.

When Devins ‘sister, Susan and her friends Regina Pereira and Bonnie Thornborough, who designed the book, decided to make Devins’ wish to publish come true, they approached Crozier to be the poetry editor. Devins’ mentor immediately agreed. Once Crozier received the poems, she began the process of choosing, editing and arranging the poetry.

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“I went through them all like I was the editor of a press… I took notes and then, of course, I had no one to send it to,” said Crozier. “So I sent them into the air. It was an imaginary conversation with an imaginary friend.

As you read Devins’ emails, essays and poems, one is invited to become part of Rachel’s intimate and immediate circle and to witness the death of a deeply moved woman and the birth of a fearless writer.

“When we are in a time of crisis, not everyone chooses to write about it,” said Crozier. “I think we are so lucky to have this radiant trace of someone’s passing through these dark times.

All proceeds after the cost of creating the book go to WICWC. To purchase a copy, visit www.amazon.com/we-root-leaf-Rachel-Devins/dp/B08TGYWP95.

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