News

‘Memoirs of a Hairless Diva’

Sitting on a recliner in her home off Old Olympic Highway, Almie Sparling described a recent 10-day Alaskan cruise.

“The icebergs are this gorgeous blue … they’re so white they’re blue,” Sparling explained, her eyes sparkling and her voice excited. “The sound of the ice cracking off and falling into the water … you’ll never forget that sound; it goes right through your being.”

Although Sparling has survived being hit by a van as she was crossing the street and battled breast cancer, she refuses to feel sorry for herself — instead, Sparling focuses on the positives — the cruise, which she calls “the most soothing, therapeutic trip,” stories of her granddaughter Jussie, who lives in Las Vegas, and the fact that she is still alive.

A Long Island, N.Y., native, Sparling and her husband, Bill, relocated to Northern California where they lived until 2001. During that year, Sparling was chatting on her cell phone and crossing a Sacramento street when a van plowed into her.

“I flew through the air and landed with my head on my cell phone,” she remembered. “The cell phone saved my brain.”

Although miraculously Sparling was not seriously hurt, the stress of big city life — and traffic — were getting to her. She and Bill sold their house and relocated to Sequim.

Then, during the 2005 holiday season, a lump was found in her left breast during a routine mammogram. A week before Christmas, her doctors at Olympic Medical Center told her it was cancerous. She had skipped her annual mammogram the year before, something she now cautions women against doing.

“It may have made a difference,” she said.

In January 2006, Sparling underwent a mastectomy, a procedure she took in stride.

“(Losing a breast) didn’t bother me,” she said. “I know that sounds crazy, but I’m a Christian. I’m not going to worry about it.”

While Sparling was undergoing chemotherapy, she said she kept a diary, as she had with other events in her life. She also kept her sense of humor.

This past May, “Memoirs of a Hairless Diva” was published after Bill laboriously typed the entire thing and the couple took it to Olympic Press.

“It has a lot of humor in it,” Sparling said of the book. “It doesn’t make (cancer) so scary.”

True to her fighting spirit, Sparling, her husband and a few friends set off on that cruise just four days after her last chemotherapy session. She wore bright caps and funky hats — something she said amused the ship’s waiters to no end — and the book’s title was born.

“These dear women who have no hair, they feel bad,” Sparling said. “ I thought, ‘Let’s make a diva out of her!’”

Sparling credits her family and her unshakable faith for not only her survival but her positive nature.

“I pray, I read the Bible. Some people say Christians are weak because they need (to believe) in something else. Hey, then maybe I’m weak,” Sparling said. Then a sly smile comes across her face. “But I’m here.”

“Memoirs of a Hairless Diva” can be found by visiting www.SassyFrassPress.com.

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Read the latest Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Jul 30 edition online now. Browse the archives.