In 2016 I moved to California to find traction for an Internet-based bookstore, The BlackBoard List, and my new venture: The BlackBoard Commission to Sustain Black Literature (BCSBL). The goal is to restore the prestige of BlackBoard Bestsellers as The BlackBoard List. I also knew that without an official body of oversight sanctioned by publishers, black titles will never have a sustainable place in the publishing landscape. My goal is to form a governing body of oversight, The BlackBoard Commission to Sustain Black Literature, to stop the cyclical disappearance of books by or about African Americans.
The BlackBoard List will have an Internet based polling system to keep the methodology of reader consensus to select best sellers as tight as glue. I was on my way to accomplishing my goals for coming to California when I decided to go home for a visit.
Mother’s Day approached and I made plans to go home to see my kids for my big day! As soon as my daughter saw me, coming to me arms outstretched, she commented on my tan and how dark I was. “Yeah”, I replied to her, “that California sun,” laughing! But the next time I looked in the mirror I thought I did look super dark. Maybe more than just from the California sun.
As the day went on, my daughters and I celebrated Mothers Day together having a good time with family and friends. At one point during the celebration my granddaughter Taylor asked, “what’s that lump on your arm?” Well, I didn’t know it was that noticeable. I had gone for a routine visit to see my primary care physician and had a blood draw. I have tiny veins and the nurse struggled moving the needle around. It left me bruised with a small lump. I assumed it was a hematoma. But there was a nagging feeling in my gut that I couldn’t shake. And each morning while brushing my teeth, looking at myself in the mirror, I’d stare at my skin color.
My daughters, ultra concerned, insisted on a biopsy. In the moment, returning to California wasn’t an option. Weeks went by. The initial biopsy came back benign and we were happy. My doctor insisted on another biopsy to make perfectly sure. As I waited for the final test results, my stomach felt like I’d swallowed a bowl of Jell-O. First believing, then not believing the benign test results and not wanting to hear the final test result. The phone rings…it’s the hospital. “Hello, yes this is Faye Childs” … “this is the Orthopedic Doctor, from the hospital,” I’m silent, amazingly calm. I’m thinking go ahead with it please. Now, I knew deep down that the first test was wrong. There was a bottomless feeling…no feeling…just numbness. “I’m so sorry, Ms. Childs, you have a cancer. You have a very rare cancer called epithelioid sarcoma that is aggressive.” I had never heard of it, but I say “Okay.” My response was distracted, like it was a grocer telling me my order is on its way my house. The doctor asks if I can be in his office in the morning at ten? I think to myself, I sure wish he wasn’t talking to me. “Ms Childs?” ‘Okay’, I managed to say. “Well, I’ll be damn”, I thought, “from a blood draw?”
The sarcoma was extremely aggressive. I quickly went to stage 4. Though the surgeons removed the sarcoma, it returned in two months. It became a choice of my arm or my life. Of course, I wanted to live! So additional surgery was scheduled. Two weeks later my arm was amputated. May 9, 2017.
My life went through radical changes. I suffered through the radiation and chemo treatments that were brutal! During my radiation treatments I received third degree burns on my neck, my stump, and my arm pit that were so bad it looked like hamburger. I had 36 rounds of chemo. Of course, I lost my hair. I was in constant pain from the radiation burns to my tissue and burns to my blood vessels. But my stump has healed.
Today, I am focused on building. Building hope for black writers, book sellers, publishers, and the black community of readers now and to come. I am dedicated. Dedicated to this work from the first BlackBoard List in 1991 with no end in sight. I am focused on the reader’s desire in what is being read, to picture a favorite story that is painted into the imagination.
Lastly, I am prepared. Prepared to deliver a list of bestselling books that looks, culturally identifies, and brings joy to black readers.