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home : current news : current news October 15, 2018

12/11/2012 12:18:00 PM
Local author grants wish for sick teen
Cancer-striken Bethany Bridgewater’s “Wish” was to work with prolific Sisters author Melody Carlson. photo by Kit Tosello
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Cancer-striken Bethany Bridgewater’s “Wish” was to work with prolific Sisters author Melody Carlson. photo by Kit Tosello

By Kit Tosello

Imagine you're a teenager and you're granted one wish, any wish - what would it be? For an 18-year-old aspiring writer from Texas battling a deadly disease, it was to meet her favorite author, Melody Carlson, of Sisters.

Thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Bethany Bridgewater traveled from Austin over the summer, spent time under Carlson's tutelage and watched as the popular author wrote her into a key scene of a forthcoming youth novel, titled "Prom Queen."

At first, Carlson was skeptical when she received the emailed request from Make-A-Wish through her fan site.

"I thought someone was punkin' me," she says. Then she was astounded. "I was really blown away she would use her wish this way. She could have done anything. I was told that she'd read all my books and her dream was to write a book with me. I was touched, really touched."

Bethany requested help writing a memoir to encourage others facing a cancer diagnosis.

"When the time came for me to choose my wish," she says, "I wanted to give back. Cancer treatment wears a person down physically, emotionally and spiritually. My wish is to bring hope to cancer patients and their families."

It's a remarkably selfless dream, considering what Bethany has endured. Just a year-and-a-half ago, at 17, with a date lined up for prom and a shimmery dress picked out, she learned that her leg bone was so weakened by a growing tumor that any movement might cause it to break. While awaiting the biopsy result, Bethany attended prom in a wheelchair. Her boyfriend, Michael, lifted her out of the wheelchair and carried her through a dance - a poignant real-life moment Carlson would later incorporate into a key scene of her novel "Prom Queen."

In what Carlson calls a "God thing," it just so happened she was working on edits for the prom-themed story at the time of Bethany's visit and was able to weave her character in.

Following prom, Bethany's diagnosis came: Ewing's sarcoma, a rare form of cancer with a bleak prognosis. After 14 rounds of intense chemo over an eight-month period and surgery to remove the tumor, her future now offers reason to be optimistic. She plans to major in physics when she begins college next fall.

In the meantime, she's slowly hammering away at the memoir she and her favorite author shaped during their time together.

"Melody has been a huge encouragement to me," she says. "There are days when I don't know if I can write a book, but she has helped me to believe I can."

Carlson continues to offer friendship and support as well as an open invitation to co-author the book.

"She's a really sweet girl," says Carlson. "I tried to fuel her fire."

She points out that local businesses also helped make Bethany's visit memorable: "There was a lot of community energy."

Bethany was treated to a stay at FivePine Resort, along with her parents and her best friend, Summer. The girls received a spa pampering at Shibui. Sisters Movie House owner Lisa Clausen donated a movie package and behind-the-scenes tour. And Bethany picked up a few more Melody Carlson novels with a gift certificate from Paulina Springs Books. Local Make-A-Wish volunteer Jan Shaver delivered lunch from Seasons Deli to Carlson's writing studio behind her Sisters home.

Melody Carlson and her husband, Chris, have lived in Sisters since 1994. They have two grown sons and an 8-year-old


Earlier this year, Carlson was awarded the Romantic Times Career Achievement Award.

She writes in a variety of genres including teen novels, women's fiction, e-book serials and screenplays. On the day she was interviewed by The Nugget, she had just put the finishing touches on a novelization of a screenplay for a movie set to release in 2013. With over 200 books published to date, Carlson is considered one of the Top 20 most prolific writers of all time.

"Prom Queen" (Revell) releases in paperback and on e-book January 1.

Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, December 13, 2012
Article comment by: John Hollingsworth

I am Bethany's granddad, and just want to thank you for being so kind and helpful to my granddaughter.

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