‘God In A Bottle’

Cancer Survivor Documents Journey In New Book

Jamie Richir, a Chautauqua County native, shared her story of breast cancer survival in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month last year for The Post-Journal. Pictured from left are Richir; her grandaughter, Zoie Centi; and her daughter, Marcella Centi. P-J photo by Katrina Fuller

Not everyone would be able to view a struggle with cancer as a positive experience.

For Jamie Richir, a Chautauqua County native, her battle with stage three breast cancer left her looking fondly back on how the fight with cancer helped her learn more about herself and see the best in others.

Richir has chronicled these feelings and experiences in a book called “God in a Bottle.” She took her personal journal entries she wrote whenever something happened in her journey with cancer and transformed them with the help of Christian Faith Publishing and some family support.

“I just kind of journaled all my way through it,” Richir said.

Her cancer was aggressive, and after getting diagnosed in the summer of 2015, it forced Richir through seven surgeries, 36 rounds of radiation and five months of chemotherapy. Doctors weren’t sure if she was going to survive.

“I went from being perfectly healthy to maybe dying. We were all hoping for the best,” said Richir, who received prayers and support from many of her friends, colleagues and family.

Her journal started as something she could leave behind for her daughter, Marcella Centi, and the rest of her family if she died. Originally, she had no plans or goals to have anything she wrote published.

That changed when Centi talked about how encouraging she said her mother’s journal could be for others sharing similar struggles. Richir’s mother suggested she get it published, so others could be inspired by the resilience displayed by Richir and positivity shown by others.

After becoming cancer-free Nov. 7, 2016, Richir discovered that one of her customer’s wives worked for Christian Faith Publishing, and after some positive reader feedback, the publisher committed to the project, much to the surprise of Richir.

“All these doors just opened up,” Richir said. “(The book) was cathartic for me.”

Now she is an officially published author with a book signing slated for the Falconer Library today from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. With “God in a Bottle” published in July, it’s now become available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble online. Physical copies can be purchased at The Country Lane in Kennedy as well.

“(The book) chronicles everything: the good, the bad, the ugly,” Richir said.

“God in a Bottle” tells Richir’s story in chronological order, starting with the phone call with a cancer diagnosis from her doctor and ending with her being declared cancer-free.

“Any day that something happened was in there,” Richir said.

Through her cancer battle, she wrote about the details of being sick, how treatment affected her and how she said God showed her how to learn new things. For instance, she said she had gone through life not noticing the world around her, and now she said she works to notice the needs of other people. Despite the serious subject matter, Richir doesn’t believe “God in a Bottle” is a sad story and instead hopes it will serve as an uplifting one.

She said she learned a lot about herself, including how she was not strong by herself but was powerful with the support of others and her faith. She said she even felt cowardly in the face of the disease and craved positive reinforcement. Her cancer struggle helped her see the best in people; Richir said those who cared and prayed for her constantly beat her expectations.

“Now that I’ve been through it and I’m looking at it behind me, it was an amazing experience,” Richir said. “When you go through something really difficult, it does make you a better person at the end of it.”

“God in a Bottle” also collects letters and emails of well wishes she received during the course of her battle with cancer. The book also presents some photos of her experience.

Richir said her time getting her book out into the world has been a perfect ending to her cancer struggle. She thanked God for blessing her and helping her become less self-centered and “see what’s around (her).”

“(Cancer) kind of helped me to live in the moment,” Richir said. “My hope is that (the book) will give people hope and encouragement.”