Kirsty Everett was 18 when she thought she was going to die. Flowers and cards were piling up around her hospital room, and many of the messages didn't read 'get well soon', but rather, it seemed people were saying goodbye.
But Kirsty didn't die.
And now the Caringbah local has written a memoir, Honey Blood, published last month by Harper Collins, about a little girl growing up and battling leukaemia - twice.
Kirsty, now 39, wants everyone to know that though the book is about her, and she had cancer, it's about a lot more than the big C.
"It's about growing up, coming of age, getting up to mischief with your friends, first kisses, the importance of empathy, and achieving the impossible," she told the Leader.
"It's funny as well. I have quite a quirky sense of humour, so it's got plenty of things anybody can identify with - like being a child and a teenager - and there are bits that will make you laugh."
It's also about a young girl whose dreams of being an Olympic gymnast are shattered due to her diagnosis, and how she mustered the courage to get through it.
Kirsty has pages of clippings published in this newspaper during her childhood years, tracking her fighting - and winning - against the odds, as well as her constant fundraising efforts to help the doctors and institutions who helped her.
"There is still a part of me that can't believe I went through all those things and I'm still here," she said.
"My life is really, really good. [Having cancer] didn't destroy my potential for happiness in the future. A lot of cancer survivors experience trauma, it's a lot to process - particularly when you're a kid when it happens - and the articles are a bit of a badge of honour for me."
The book title, Honey Blood, came from the way Kirsty said it felt when a particular chemical was injected into her during chemotherapy.
Likewise, the book was written to educate people about what exactly goes on during those treatments.
The publisher's blurb says Kirsty's story is "wise and unflinching and hopeful, and you won't feel the same after reading it" - which is pretty much how this journalist felt after interviewing the author.
Did Kirsty come to terms with the fact that she was given only a 17 per cent chance of survival the second time cancer came knocking?
What kind of a person does it take to feel empathy for the kids who bullied the young, bald-from-chemotherapy-Kirsty during high school?
Questions that the Leader wanted to ask ... but then that might have ruined the book.
A generous 7.5 per cent of Honey Blood sales will go to Children's Cancer Institute - Kirsty's favourite cancer charity.
Follow Kirsty, or hit her up for a public speaking engagement, via instagram @kirstyeverett_
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