About the Author
Jodie Fleming is a native Victorian and passionate devotee of experiential living. She has danced salsa in Cuba and had many a siesta in España. She works as a clinical and health psychologist in a variety of settings and dedicates her free time to swimming in the ocean, following her nephews around to their various sporting endeavours, running with her beloved staffy Mortimer and watching foreign films. Always on the lookout for ways to work more effectively, Jodie's first international wellness retreat, Conscious Living, in Bali, May 2019, was developed in conjunction with Mindful Tribes. ‘A Hole in My Genes’ is her first book.
Watch A Hole in My Genes, Author Talk, launch where Jodie sits down for an intimate Conversation on the Couch with her medical oncologist, Dr Terri Hayes, to celebrate the release of her first book. In the style of "You Can't Ask That", Jodie and Terri take a no holds barred approach to ask each other the questions they didn't dare ask whilst patient and doctor almost 9 years ago.
On February 25th, Jo and Dean at Blarney Books and Art in Port Fairy opened their doors for journalist and author Matt Neal to interview Jodie in a more intimate setting.
Follow this link to read the author interview for Blooming Minds eMagazine.
Follow this link to read the author interview for A Hole in My Genes for Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/interview/JodieFleming
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A Hole in My Genes Synopsis
Dr Jodie Fleming is a Clinical & Health Psychologist practicing in South West Victoria. Jodie once specialised in the field of psycho-oncology - the human side of cancer. In 2010 at the age of thirty-seven, she receives the terrifying news that she has two primary breast cancers. This becomes a frightening opportunity to practice what she preaches.
The doctor becomes the patient.
Having cared for her husband with testicular cancer eight years earlier and dedicating her career to helping others with cancer, Jodie understands the role of caregiver both on a personal and professional level. The role of patient, however is another matter. The diagnosis comes exactly one month after the end of her marriage. What ensues is the epitome of complicated grief and a foray into the world of cancer from the other side of the desk.
Necessity fills her life with surgeries, chemotherapy, and genetic counselling. She relocates interstate to her parents’ home in country Victoria for a healthy dose of family dysfunction. Genetic testing and a prophylactic hysterectomy adds salt to the open wound of infertility and viciously rubs it in. With no family history of breast cancer, Jodie's family, including her younger sister Kim, confronts the news that Jodie carries the BRCA1 genetic mutation.
Forced to draw upon the psychological strategies she’d previously taught her clients, Jodie discovers that many are ineffective. She revisits many of her sessions with clients, reflecting on the invaluable life lessons each one offers: Sarah, the thirty-six-year-old mother diagnosed with terminal breast cancer who urges Jodie to work with her family to prepare them for her death; Alex, a sixteen-year-old dying from brain cancer who teaches Jodie the meaning of happiness; and Michael, the man who should be retiring to enjoy his dream home with his family but instead finds himself in the terminal stages of prostate cancer.
Jodie also meets Sam, a thirty-nine-year-old mother of three, diagnosed with breast cancer at the same time. Together, they forge a bond based on their common diagnoses and similar treatment pathway, sharing information and supporting one another until Sam loses her battle.
Recovered, and approaching her fortieth birthday, Jodie ventures again into the world of love daring to face the challenges that her new post-cancer body brings. She braves the realm of online dating to meet Rick and his children who, for a short time, provide Jodie with the hope that she has not missed out on having the family she covets.
Starting from scratch, Jodie develops her own toolkit to conquer the psychological minefield of cancer, grief and loss, infertility and breast reconstruction. Interspersed throughout are letters she writes to her grandmother . . . her Nan.
Jodie learns more from her own journey than she ever does, or could, from her studies.
This is that journey from a terrifying diagnosis to a cancer free future.
Early Reviews for A Hole in My Genes
Your reviews are vital to support indie authors like Jodie, so regardless of where you find your copy of A Hole in My Genes, leave a review wherever you can. Amazon and Goodreads are excellent starting points!
OMG!!!! Get out the tissues, your favourite rug a cuppa and the chocolate! Raw, honest, and a stark reminder that fate can be an absolute bitch!!! And yet through it all a beautiful reminder of the strength and resilience of the human spirit. Thank you for allowing us the privilege of insight into the struggle that is surviving cancer.
Anita Singh, Diabetes Educator
From the very first pages of this book I could not stop reading. Jodie has written this memoir with such courage, warmth, honesty and candour. It is evident she has an extremely generous heart. This book bravely discusses the life changing news of a breast cancer diagnosis and the ripple effect on everything that once was considered normal. Relationships, career, family and friends are all impacted as well as coming to terms with the uncertainty this diagnosis brings. Jodie takes you by the hand through all of this on a personal and intimate journey. It will make you sad, it will make you smile and it will show you how with resilience courage and strength we can overcome huge obstacles to start living life again.
Kellie Sweeney,Paediatric Nurse
This was one of those amazing books that promises so much but delivers even more. I cried and I laughed and at the end was left with a privileged insight into the rawness of what it is to be human. This was more than a cancer story, its a journey through the ups and the downs, inter-spiced with gems of humor and wisdom. Great ready for anyone who is looking for raw beautiful honestly with some smiles along the way.
Nicole Naylor, Provisional Psychologist
Jodie’s book is an amazing and brave insight into her cancer journey. She writes with such ease, honesty and compassion. You feel transported into her world. Highly recommend!
Katrina Burchell, Clinical Psychologist
Wow. It is not often I sit down and read pretty much a whole book in one sitting. But I just did that. I wanted to keep reading. Thank you for sharing your story, your life and your feelings. The way you have written it brings it to life and often I felt as though I was sitting there going through it all with you. There were parts I could relate to and many of course that were different, but I knew from friends. Fantastic, a book that captures your heart and soul, one that you can not put down. Thank you, I feel blessed to have had this privilege to read your story.
Jane Synnot, Cancer Survivor, NBCF Speakers Bureau Ambassador and BCNA Consumer Representative
Reading ‘A Hole in my Genes' - even 40 years after my own experience with cancer - has provided me with valuable insights as to why I became who I became. It has also exposed and explained some unresolved issues from my time with, and immediately post, cancer. I only wish this book had been available then!
Bruce Esplin AM - Cancer survivor/Former Victorian Emergency Services Commissioner
Apply enough intense heat and pressure and you may just end up with a diamond. This diamond is Jodie Fleming. Candid. Brave. Brutal. Quirky. Brilliant. A writing style that immerses you in her journey in the most visceral sense. As a health professional 'A Hole in My Genes' has given me invaluable insight. As a young woman, it made me laugh, reflect, and left me with renewed inspiration for life.
Dr Belinda Bell, General Practitioner, Australia
This book is a must read, a cannot put down read, an impossible to forget read.
So packed full of genuine and honest, heartfelt emotion..NO-ONE could prepare for.
It touches your very soul.
Jodie has a magnetic skill of writing which pulls you right into the moments and so
you feel you are right there with her. Uncanny and so unique.
Leaves you with a thirst for more of her motivation.
Ann Cooper, Scotland, United Kingdom
From the first chapter of A Hole in my Genes I could not turn the pages fast enough. Dr Fleming’s ability to story tell her journey with authenticity, frankness and at times, gut-wrenching honesty consumed me from the outset. I could feel her pain, I felt her sadness, I wanted to jump into the pages and wrap her in a warm hug. This incredibly brave memoir is a reminder to us all how precious life can be, and how quickly it can change. Thank you for sharing your story with us all.
Bianca Sciessere, The Glitterbug, Australia
As a cancer nurse I loved reading a hole in my genes. It is an amazing book in which Jodie has the reader riding the roller coaster of her cancer journey it will have you laughing and crying.
Jodie openly and honestly shares her whole cancer journey, accurate describing the highs and lows patients and their families experience throughout the roller coaster that is their cancer journey, their diagnosis, treatment, surgery and recovery. The book gives people and insight into what a cancer patient is going though and how they are really feeling, as they often try to shield their love ones from the truth.
I believe the book will provide a valuable insight for cancer patients and more importantly their loved ones. Not only does it give accurate descriptions of treatments and side effects it gives tips and coping strategies to manage symptoms but more importantly shows patients it’s ok to feel the way they do and have those thoughts as even the psychologist felt that way!
Cancer patients go through a million different emotions and that’s just part of the journey I love that Jodie shows them that’s normal.
Laura Levett, Breast Care Nurse, St John of God Healthcare, Australia
It’s impossible to find the words to describe the emotions I felt while reading this book. Jodie is such a talented story teller. As a result, every recollection is so vivid it allows the reader to feel the fear and uncertainty of the moment. All the while, Jodie’s bubbly optimism and lust for life shine through every page.
Danielle Buzgalo, Educational Psychologist, Australia
I have been lucky, my life has not been touched by cancer. This book sheds light on what that must be like. It was enlightening to me, and heartbreaking at times. Ultimately, I got hope, love and resilience from this book. Sharing the author’s life for that moment in time has stayed with me. I will think back on the life lessons expressed through the author’s voice often. A thoughtful and honest book.
Alana Jardine, Veterinarian, Australia
I highly recommend everyone read this book. You will experience a variety of emotions whilst reading it and become intensely aware of the need to be grateful and cherish what you have in life. A real page turner that captivated me, motivated me, inspired me and left my heart full.
Chelsea Gunther, Australia
After knowing Jodie for a few years now on a professional level, I was aware Jodie had battled breast cancer, but I did not know about half of the things she had endured. This honest, humorous, inspirational account of her experience with cancer and the adversities that arrived with a horrible illness is a true testament of Jodie’s determination and fight. This raw account proves that no one is perfect, even psychologists!
Maddison Wittmann, Australia
I started reading it last night & finished it today. I couldn't stop! It was incredible. So real & raw. So brilliant to read about it from not only a young woman’s perspective, but also as a health professional. I am a nurse and often feel like I should know how to 'fix' things when they happen to me or those close to me. It's hard to remember to just be the patient sometimes & that is ok to not have all the answers. I thought it flowed really well, it was easy to read & understand with no big medical or technical jargon. I also felt like the detail was perfect, I felt like I was sitting in the psychologist’s office etc with you. I especially loved the bits how you were writing to your nan, it felt really personal (clearly it is), but makes it all the more real!
Lauren Hart, Registered Nurse, Australia
A hole in my genes is a real-life story about a young, married, successful psychologist who has her life turned upside down when the unpredictable happens and she receives a terrifying diagnosis whilst her marriage is breaking down.
The book takes you thru the naivety, fear, the shock, the grief of experiencing all that this means and the friendship, love and support that stands out of the darkness.
Jodie does a beautiful job in sharing transparently the good, the bad and the ugly of her journey. Her sense of humour shines thru at times bringing lightness and chuckles to a story of loss, learning and of conquering of life.
I devoured the book in a few days. I laughed at unpredictable moments, I cried often and I also learnt a lot as Jodie shares her wisdom on what helped, on what didn't and on how to navigate treatment and life after a diagnosis of cancer.
This book is for anyone who is going thru treatment or has a loved one who is. An incredibly emotional, informative and inspiring read packed with honesty, practical strategies and what to expect. I absolutely loved it.
Dr Susanna Zito, Clinical Psychologist, Australia
Thank you for letting me feel just a little bit of what your journey has been like for you. It truly was a privilege for me that you were brave and trusting enough to share your story.
You’re story is fascinating, complicated, funny and so so inspiring. Your clients are very lucky to have your support and understanding.
I have recently requested to engage in more cancer care work and am meeting a beautiful lady with lung cancer tomorrow. Your memoir has given me so much more of an insight than any treatment guidelines have.
Jodi Wittenberg, Provisional Psychologist, Australia
This was the most beautifully honest and vulnerable account of your amazing journey. I laughed. I cried. My heart ached for the grief and pain you went through. So many words are going through my mind as I write this but courage is one that stands out. Courage to face this awful disease. Courage to help others. Courage to write this memoir. I could only imagine the emotions that come with not only writing but sharing such a personal part of yourself. And I hope that it has been another step on your journey of healing and growth. You are an inspiration to me, not only as a psychologist but as a person.
Elli Byron, Psychologist, Australia
And so with an "I want to go to NYC sigh" and bittersweet smile - I've finished. It's beautiful Jode - enjoyable like Hannah Gadsbys "Nanette" is enjoyable. You laugh, you cry, you swear and quietly nod along in agreement to those parts that resonate. Because it's not "just" a story about cancer survival really is it? Its about grief and loss, relationships, societal vs personal values , soul searching, health, wellbeing, fear, mortality and why the superficial "positive thinking" is a bullshit blame game.
I loved it. Keep dancing on tables honey xo
Rachele Sloane, Student Wellbeing Coordinator, Australia
Well - I am totally impressed. I read the book in a single sitting (pretty much) and found it a beautiful and accessible explanation of the process of being unwell, and all of the sequale of such. I have been working in oncology for the past twelve years, and in that time I have met hundreds, if not thousands of people who become acquainted with the world of uncertainty, panic, and terror that comes with a cancer diagnosis. Jodie has provided an intimate and beautiful insight into what it means to be thrown into the swell of this, to be held under the water and have moments of feeling that she would never find the surface again. I imagine that Jodie’s words, and the sharing of the strategies that have worked for her will mean that the people who pick up “A Hole in My Genes” will find comfort and a gentle nudge toward feeling much more understood.
Dr Toni Lindsay, Clinical & Health Psychologist and Author of Cancer, Sex, Drugs and Death A Clinician Guide to the Psychological Management of Young People with Cancer
Jodie, thank you for writing ‘A Hole in My Genes’ with such honesty and generosity of spirit. Your warm, engaging writing style never falters, even when allowing us to witness your darkest moments. There’s plenty of humour in your book too, and I often laughed out loud. It’s a celebration of family, friendship, strength, dignity, and hope. Your experience during diagnosis and treatment highlights the need for holistic, individualised and integrated care for each person diagnosed with cancer. On any given day, while the rest of us live our busy lives, people are facing the unimaginable. I feel I’m now better informed about the reality of cancer treatment, and therefore better able to support friends and family dealing with this life changing experience. So often we assume that once treatment finishes life just returns to ‘normal’, and I thank you for eloquently illuminating not just the physical challenges, but the emotional and psychological impacts extending well beyond the end of treatment. There’s much hope that continued research will lead to more effective, less aggressive treatment of cancer. Voices like yours are so important in raising public awareness so that we can all become advocates for change.
Janet Cavarsan, Australia
If I had the time I would have devoured this book in a single day!
I was completely enthralled in Jodie’s world - romantic world, social world, medical world and most of all, her emotional world and how she deals with the unfairness and unpredictability of supposedly perfectly planned life.
Although this is a book about breast cancer, I think ultimately, it is a relatable story about resilience, love and real human spirit.
Tracy van Rooy, Australia
Are you supporting someone living with cancer? A loved one? A patient? A client? If so, you need to read this book.
‘A Hole in my Genes’ will give you great insight into the experiences of a person living with cancer, battling through treatment and trying to maintain their sense of self amidst an avalanche of impositions. Jodie masterfully weaves these lessons through her story to help you to understand what they are experiencing, their fears and hopes and how to support them. And if you are (or have been) living with cancer yourself and are seeking someone to connect with who genuinely understands the challenges, fears and isolation, you will find a companion as you read through Jodie’s story.
‘A Hole in my Genes’ will give hope, insight and validation to patients, survivors, loved ones and professionals.
Tasha Broomhall, Director and lead facilitator for Blooming Minds Mental Health and Wellbeing and author of Bloom! Mental Health & Wellbeing.
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