Brenda’s Wish by Jackie Haley is a beautiful tribute to Brenda Schmitz and a heartwarming bittersweet story of love and family.
Brenda and David Schmitz were enjoying a nice life, co-parenting their children and stepchildren, when Brenda suddenly discovers she has stage IV ovarian cancer that had spread to other organs. With news that if she didn’t take action she would only have months to live, Brenda decides to have surgery and chemo to increase her chances of survival. Her family joins to together to help her get through this ordeal, but she ultimately succumbs to the disease and is surrounded by family and friends when she enters hospice to make her final transition. A couple years later, Brenda’s husband is surprised when he is contacted by a radio station who is going to posthumously grant Brenda the last wish that she had for her family. She also had a friend secretly send letters, that she had written, for important milestones in their lives. Brenda continued to touch lives even after she passed on and will continue to do so for the people who read her story.
Brenda’s Wish takes us on a journey through a woman’s battle with cancer, and ultimately what happens after she passed away. Her story will touch your heart. I found myself tearing up several times. The Schmitz family and their community were admirable in how they banded together for Brenda and it was heartbreaking to see her leave behind children that loved her.
While Brenda’s story offered a lot of information to help women become more aware of ovarian cancer, it also touched my life in other ways. Her life made me think about how I am living my own life, and how I want to be remembered. It really helped me put things into perspective, especially about what is truly important at the end of the day. At her funeral, the minister said that she wanted him to remind her friends that they still have time. Brenda was out of time, but we are not, and this sent a message to me, that I still have time to do the things that I need to do so that I can transition knowing I spent my life well lived.
I highly recommend Brenda’s Wish by Jackie Haley. It’s a story you won’t soon forget.
- Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views
“Brenda’s Wish is a beautiful and inspiring story. Jackie Haley captured this family's journey so perfectly while bringing light and awareness to this horrific disease. You'll thoroughly enjoy the read from cover to cover.”
- National Ovarian Cancer Coalition
“Brenda’s Wish is a loving tribute to an incredible woman whose journey with ovarian cancer is all too common. Not only will this book help to educate people about the realities of this awful disease, they will fall in love with a selfless, generous, and loving woman; a person we all can strive to be more like.”
- Colleen’s Dream Foundation
RECOMMENDED by U.S. Review: "She admired how the boys were turning into young and caring men right before her eyes."
"Brenda, a mother of a teenage boy, married David Schmitz, a divorced father with two younger sons. A year later, baby Max was born to the couple. The family lived in Ankeny, Iowa, a small football town. Brenda adored pottery, like her #1 MOM coffee mug and a birthday plate used to make each child a special birthday breakfast. She was planning a big celebration for Cameron's eighteenth birthday in a few weeks.
However, Brenda finally had an appointment with her gynecologist to discover what was causing terrible abdominal pain and stealing her appetite. Brenda and David were shocked to learn that she had stage-4 ovarian cancer; this diagnosis explained the symptoms. A fighter, Brenda considered this a battle to be won. Every course of chemotherapy was endured as the key to getting back to the life and family she loved. After follow-up surgery that was only partially successful, Brenda walked out of the hospital, leaving "her hope stranded on the eighth floor."
The author has created a tear-jerker throughout this 221-page true story, and readers should keep the tissue box handy for the surprise ending. However, the overall impact of the story might have been even greater through the inclusion of more backstory. An extremely touching aspect to the book is the fact that Brenda wrote letters to each of her four sons and had one for David sent to the local news station. Two years later, Brenda’s special wish was read over the news, and the whole town, including author Haley, learned what Brenda wished for her widowed husband. In the afterword, Haley poignantly reveals that nothing could break apart family ties that a selfless mother leaves behind."
- US Review of Books