By Mark Johnson
In her role as a business owner and operator, Maria Celeste Provenzano Cook devotes a great deal of time and energy to her company. Yet, her biggest and most rewarding challenge has come in her role as a two-time cancer survivor.
“Many people don’t know that I’m a cancer survivor,” Cook said. “They look at me and say, ‘You don’t look sick!’ In particular, other cancer patients ask, ‘What did you do to heal?’”
Indeed, that question inspired the Carmel resident to assume yet another role, that of author.
“For me, cancer is not a death sentence,” she said. “It’s a wake-up call, a wake-up call to make some essential life changes. Making changes in your approach to hygiene, to the type of clothing you wear, and, most importantly, your daily routine.”
Thus, Cook began what she would come to regard as her journey to healing. She would document that journey in her book, “What I Did to Heal Through Cancer, Chemotherapy, and Radiation.”
“Through my journey, I learned how to navigate medicine, and I learned the value of Western medicine, of Eastern medicine, and of spiritual medicine,” she said.
Yet faith and spirituality played major roles in both her healing and the inspiration to share her journey with others, she said.
“The book is a labor of love. It’s a road map through cancer,” Cook said. “I asked God to use me to help others. I had to take care of myself to take of others.”
Cook credits her husband, Eric, as her biggest blessing.
“Eric is amazing. He gave me the space that I needed to heal. I got to stay home through my chemotherapy. Having a tremendous support system is crucial. Prayer, faith, visual affirmation are all extremely important on the path to healing.”
In addition to providing a guide for others on their journeys to healing, Cook concedes that the book serves one more purpose.
“The book keeps me accountable to staying healed,” she said. “I take very seriously what God has asked me to do, and that is to live what is in this book and to be an example. I’m honored and humbled to be able to do that and to say to others, ‘Have hope and faith for that miracle.’ It helps me to live a life that is healthy, happy and healed.”