nominated by Pink Ribbon Girls
By: Marcee Nelson
Do you remember the first book you read as a child?
Joules Evans remembers hers. It was a book called I Want To Read. She remembers it because as soon as she read it, she thought, “I want to write. A book.”
And she did.
First, though, Joules grew up, got a journalism degree, married, and had three children (nicknamed “the Redheads”). She spent 16 years homeschooling her kids, and taught classes at a local homeschooling co-op.
“I thought my first book would be about homeschooling.”
Instead, a new subject showed up at her door, uninvited.
At 42, Joules was diagnosed with an aggressive type of breast cancer. What followed were a double mastectomy, chemo, and immunotherapy. As her doctors fought back with treatment, Joules fought back with her faith, her family, and her wit. She started writing and didn’t stop.
One of the results is her book, Shaken Not Stirred, A Chemo Cocktail, which Joules describes as a comedy about a tragedy. From the first page, you’re in for a ride down the rapids of rushing emotion. It’s raw honesty served up with her rebellious brand of humor.
Along the way, it struck Joules that suddenly she was living the lyrics of one of her favorite Cincy bands, Over the Rhine: “I was born to laugh. But I learned to laugh through my tears.”
Eight years later, Joules still seems to be getting the last laugh on cancer. Now a prolific blogger, journalist, photographer and author, she sums herself up as “occasionally radioactive with a chance of superpowers.” Easy to spot with a pencil behind her ear, Joules has become an accidental activist and un-caped crusader against the nemesis that has stolen too many friends along the way.
“I never asked ‘why me?’ But I do ask ‘why them and not me?’ I have this crazy good fortune, and I feel very intense about making it worth it that I’m here.”
With Joule’s help, the Scar Project was brought to Cincinnati in 2011, and proceeds went to Pink Ribbon Girls, the group to which Joules connects everyone she can and wishes she had known about during her own cancer journey. She is assistant director of the Grace Project, a body image movement whose goal is to help all women, not just cancer survivors, feel better about their bodies. “Fight the good fight…finish the race…keep the faith.”
Living as fiercely as she fights, though, is the sweetest revenge. Among other things, Joules describes herself as a girl with a big sense of wonder, an adventurer, a road-tripper, a travel writer and photographer. Her recent photographs of Route 66 have won awards and been featured in exhibitions.
Now Joules is about to follow her heart down the Route once more as she works on her next book, Why the Turtle Crossed the Road, a post-cancer memoir about not waiting until you’re dying to really live. It’s a message Joules is passionate about sharing.
“My mantra, my mission is to live sincerely, be love, and leave a beauty mark that I was here…”
Joules is far from finished. As she will tell you, the book about homeschooling is still to come.
What women influenced you the most either past or present?
“So very many. The superkaPOWer brave women who were in the trials for Herceptin, the immunotherapy that targeted THE SHIT out of my breast cancer. Yes, it’s mine. It does not define me. But it does have a supporting role in my story. That doesn’t bother me one bit, cuz just like Herceptin turned my cancer off, my cancer LIT MY FIRE. (Cue Alisha Keys then #micdrop). I simply would not be typing these words if those women did not go before me during the trials for Herceptin. Her2 breast cancer used to be a 100% fatal disease BEFORE THESE WOMEN TOOK DOWN ITS NUMBER.”
What’s your favorite quote(s)?
“Small things done with great love will change the world.” ~ Mother Teresa
“At the end of my life, when I ask one final time: “what have i done?”, Let my answer be: I have done love.” ~ Jen Pastiloff
“Wear your scars like stardust.” ~ Amy Ferris
“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
~ Alice in Wonderland
Pink Ribbon Girls
Pink Ribbon Girls is a 501(c)3 grassroots nonprofit organization created by women with breast cancer to support and empower other women to courageously fight breast and women’s reproductive cancers. Our mission is to balance the fear and uncertainty that breast and other women’s reproductive cancers bring to individuals and families by providing direct services, education and support.
Help women here by helping women there
We will donate 15% of every purchase to a local non-profit like Pink Ribbon Girls