Grief And Writing, With Guests Shelley Buck And Kathy Curtis

On this episode of WE Have Cancer, Lee is joined by Shelley Buck and Kathy Curtis, co-authors of “Leave Your Light On: The Musical Mantra Left Behind by an Illuminating Spirit.”

The grieving process can look dramatically different from person to person and situation to situation. For Shelley, it took the form of writing a book with her son Ryder, and her friend Kathy. Shelley opens up about how her son’s cancer diagnosis changed their relationship and even her parenting style, and was a catalyst to share his spirit with the world. Shelley and Kathy talk about writing the book as a way to extend Ryder’s legacy while also using it as an essential part of their grieving process.

Guest biography

Shelley Buck and Kathy Curtis are co-authors of the book “Leave Your Light On: The Musical Mantra Left Behind by an Illuminating Spirit.” After Shelley’s son Ryder was diagnosed with cancer, she poured her heart into writing their story. With the help of a lifelong friend and healing writer Kathy, Shelley was able to work through her grief with a creative outlet, letting her son's light shine on.

Table of contents:

  • Introduction
  • What’s it like to hear your child has cancer?

So often, the focus is on the cancer patient themselves. As Shelly talks about, receiving the diagnosis from her son left her breathless but put her into a spin of activity.

  • How did a cancer diagnosis change the relationship?

With her son being 22 at the time and Shelly needing special permission to get information from the doctor, she had to learn how to let go and let him take the lead.

  • Exasperation

From more of an outsider’s perspective as Shelly’s lifelong friend, Kathy talks about Ryder’s personality and how exasperating he could be, even during treatment.

  • Telling Ryder’s story

Kathy, one of the authors of the book, saw it as an honor and big responsibility to portray Ryder the way he saw himself. Kathy also saw it as an opportunity to help Ryder leave a lasting legacy.

  • Light on

Shelley gives some background about the title of the book, “Leave Your Light On” and where the term came from.

  • How Ryder would feel about his legacy

With the book and a character being named after him in the movie “Frozen 2,” Shelly talks a bit about how she feels Ryder would feel about how he’s being portrayed and remembered now.

  • The finality of the word “lose”

Echoing a similar sentiment as Lee, Shelley talks about how she feels about words like “lose” and “dead” in this context.

  • Helping a friend through grief

Kathy was there to help Shelley and the rest of the family through the grieving process, both as a counselor of sorts and as a lifelong friend. She talks about some of the things they dealt with while writing the book and grieving over Ryder.

  • Friendship and support

Shelley talks about her friendship with Kathy and discusses what her support meant to her throughout this process.

  • Grieving through writing and the hole that has been left

By going through everything to write the book and with Kathy’s guiding hand, Shelley was able to use the process to grieve over Ryder. Shelley also talks about how the family is coping with Ryder’s passing.

  • Using music to cope

Ryder was well known for his love of music, even from a young age. So when he was diagnosed with cancer, he naturally turned to music. Shelley tells a story about how Ryder played and wrote music throughout his treatment.

  • How Kathy came to use writing to heal

Kathy dealt with her own pain and grief as her mother was diagnosed with cancer and passed away. That’s where she found the power of writing through the grieving process, using it to say everything she felt she wanted to say to her mother.

  • Helping others 

Shelley and Kathy give their insight on how to open up your heart again after losing a loved one — From embracing the process to being open to a continuation of the relationship inside yourself.

  • Ryder Buck Scholarship Foundation

As a music lover, it only made sense for the scholarship foundation to be about music as well. As a part of Ryder’s legacy, the foundation has awarded 17 scholarships since 2014.

  • Fond memory – Kathy

Kathy, who is hearing impaired, was overwhelmed when she first got her hearing implant. One of her fondest memories of Ryder was that day and how his light and enthusiasm when talking to her made everything better.

  • Fond memory – Shelley

Shelley doesn’t have a single fond memory but remembers how Ryder lit up the room when performing on stage.

Links mentioned in the show:

Subscribe to the “WE Have Cancer” Podcast – 

Follow WE Have Cancer on Social Media:

Like our Facebook page

Join our private Facebook group

Follow us on Twitter

Follow us on Instagram

Follow us on LinkedIn

Check out Luxe Bidets

Leave Your Light On – Website

Leave Your Light On – Book

Shelley Buck – Twitter

Shelley Buck – Instagram

Ryder Buck Scholarship Foundation – Website

Know someone touched by cancer who has an inspiring story? Email Lee

Leave a Comment