Alex's Wish book cover
WHEN ONE DOOR CLOSES
A Teen's Inspiring Journey and Living Legacy
By Susie and Bill Graham
with H. Thomas Saylor
Publisher: Three Dot L.L.C.
Publication date: August 1, 2008
Retail Price: $24.95
US ISBN: 978-0-9762012-1-2
LCCN: 2008900651
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

alex getting fitted for her prosthetic leg
  1. It has been nearly 10 years since your daughter, Alexandra was diagnosed with cancer. Why a book now?
    After Alex's public service announcement gained notoriety, we were encouraged by friends and family to write a book. Having never written for publication before, it took a while to turn the dream of a book into reality. With the passage of time we realized the experiences of family, friends and the community as it related to our daughter's life and wish, made the story even more compelling. We think the book contains a little something each reader will relate to.
  2. What convinced you that writing a book about your daughter was a good thing to do?
    We wrote this book for two reasons. Alex wished for funds to support cancer research and assistance, and she wanted to remind all of us not to take life for granted. We believe When One Door Closes offers a unique opportunity to honor both of those wishes in a form that will inform and inspire its readers.
  3. Tell us about why you chose the title When One Door Closes and the subtitle A Teen's Inspiring Journey and Living Legacy. Who is your intended audience?
    We chose the title because it captures a universal truth and theme. Each of us faces doors of opportunity and doors that block our way. What's important is how we choose to react to those doors. While the book is about a teenager, the messages are for readers from teenagers on up. When faced directly or indirectly with a life-threatening illness or other personal tragedy, who better to provide insight than those who have walked in those shoes?
  4. Is the book primarily about Alex's battle with cancer?
    Yes, the book centers around Alex, but it is just as much about how cancer and other life-threatening illness impacts all of us, and we really need to think about what that means as a parent, a friend or a member of the community.
  5. Much of Alex's story is told by the two of you, but many of the book's 80 plus chapters are accounts shared by other family members, friends, and medical personnel. Why did you choose to involve so many others?
    Each person we interviewed is directly or indirectly a part of Alex's life and legacy. It would be impossible to tell Alex's story and capture how the actions of one person can change the lives of others ─ not just in the present but for years to come ─ without making them a primary part of the book.
  6. The book describes a relationship between singer and musician Ed Robertson of the Barenaked Ladies. How did he become part of Alex's story?
    Alex was a big fan of the group, and even after her leg amputation she didn't hesitate to wait in line for the chance to get an autograph or attend a BNL concert. That's how Alex first met Ed Robertson and Steven Page. Later, when Ed Robertson made a special effort to visit Alex in the hospital and sing just for her, all of us instantly became lifelong Barenaked Ladies fans.
  7. As a parent, what are the key things you want to share with other parents whose child is facing a life-threatening illness?
    Ask lots of questions; listen to your intuition; be involved and involve your child in what's going on; despite all that is happening find a way to work together as parents; and never, ever give up. Above all, know you and your child are not being punished. There is no reason. It just is. So take one day at a time, and draw strength from the support of your family, your friends and your faith.
  8. When a child is diagnosed with cancer or other life threatening illness it puts a tremendous amount of stress on a husband and wife's relationship. How did the two of you keep your marriage together while all of this was going on?
    The stress is unbelievable and as time goes by, you become physically and emotionally drained. What kept us together was the fact we shared one common goal. That goal was to do everything possible to help our daughter get well.
  9. In your opinion, what made Alex's wish so special?
    The wishes granted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation are phenomenal. They offer each wish child and their family an opportunity to find a little window of peace and happiness in the middle of overwhelming uncertainty, treatments and worry. In our opinion every wish they grant is special. Alex's wish was unique because it was different than most, and it was a wish made out of concern for others. The Make-A-Wish Foundation of Michigan took on the challenge and through faithful and caring supporters like BERLINE, they were able to make Alex's wish come true. It's a wish that comes true again and again each time her public service message is broadcast or viewed on the web.
  10. Why do you describe Alex's legacy as a "living" legacy?
    Each one of us leaves behind a legacy, but when positive actions are initiated in memory of someone years after their death, then that person's legacy is being renewed. When Alex's public service announcement reminds us to "try a smile" or when Team Alex rides another mile in the Wish-A-Mile, her legacy lives on to inspire others.
  11. Who do you hope will read When One Door Closes and why?
    Anyone reading this book with an open heart and willing mind is sure to benefit from at least one perspective or key thought. The book might not be right for everybody, but we know all of us will eventually be touched ─ directly or indirectly ─ by a life-threatening illness such as cancer. We are hopeful that those are the people who will read the book and gain insight and inspiration from Alex's story.
  12. Alex wished for a commercial to raise money for cancer funds. How does this book honor that wish?
    The authors have designated a portion of the proceeds from sales of the book for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and we are hoping that the publicity, renewed interest in Alex's video message and sales of the book will increase donations and support fundraising for important organizations like the American Cancer Society and the Ronald McDonald House charities.
  13. What are the key messages you want readers to walk away with after reading When One Door Closes?
    Be there for the ones you love and the friends you have. Enable those who need to be there for others. Don't let the fear of facing a life-threatening illness keep you from those who need your support. Know there is randomness to life. When something bad happens, it's not always someone's fault. Live every day with gratitude and grace. Cherish even the most common of days, and know that the smallest of acts, if only a smile, can make a difference in the life of another. Choose to live life with meaning.
  14. How are you able to go on after losing a child so suddenly at such a young age?
    In the book we make a reference to life not being all "beer and skittles." The phrase refers to a popular English pub game in which pins are set up in a square and a ball is used to try to knock them down. The expression "beer and skittles" is shorthand for a life of indulgence spent in the pub. As we all know, life is not that way. Life is not all fun and games nor should we expect it to be. There are no words sufficient to describe the loss of a child, but somehow, in some way, we have to find a way to go on with our lives. As the book discusses, we must go through the valley and ride out the wave. Down deep in our hearts, we know that our departed loved-one, would want us to hold on to the good memories and find happiness in our lives.
  15. What can the readers of your book do to honor Alex's wish and make a meaningful difference for those facing a life-threatening illness?
    If Alex has taught us one thing it is that giving is living. We hope this book encourages everyone to become actively involved in supporting organizations like the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association and the Ronald McDonald House. Find a worthwhile organization that supports research to find cures for life-threatening illness or one that makes life a bit better for those who struggle every day to survive those diseases. Certainly make a contribution to your favorite cause, but better yet, become involved as a volunteer or fundraiser and experience the personal joy of opening doors for someone who needs a smile.