John Cicero is the author of Sway and the Rainbows Shadow Series. He writes fictional, spiritually themed novels set in adventure settings; stories sprinkled with symbolism, suspense and inspiration.
A current Cleveland Clinic executive, John has also previously worked in sports management for the NFL as a marketing executive for the Cleveland Browns. John is a passionate weekend writer with a love for movies and books written for screen adaptation. His most important love is his wife, children and growing family.
The Story Behind Sway
Sway initially began as a challenge from my cousin and dear friend, John Ryan, to attempt to write a story from an experience he had while moving down south for a new position in his company. John apparently was being attacked by a nuisance of a weed while cutting his grass in his new yard. The weed, uniquely, had a mind of its own and mysteriously could never be eradicated from his yard. The annoyance had gotten so bad it made an indelible impression mentally and physically on John which thoroughly convinced him a story could be created. Thus, the challenge began.
Fast forward a few years later and fueled by a few unsuccessful attempts to bring John’s story to life, I found myself dealing with my own unique challenge of an undesirable weed. I found a tiny sun spot on my face near my right eye which migrated into melanoma. After four surgeries to remove this nuisance I was now dealing with a hole in my face the size of a golf ball. A major surgery with a pretty intense recovery followed. Through this all, something triggered in me to write. The genesis of Johns’ original weed story suddenly made more sense to me. I was uniquely motivated now more than ever and I had a new twist on the story I just had to craft.
This is when little Norah Petre, whom I have never met and was just 18 months old at the time, entered my life. I am fortunate to work with Norah’s father Marc, who saw me at a conference from a distance with my battered surgical face. The following week I received an email from Marc with a simple phrase in the subject line, which read, Sway. Not only did this catch my attention but the uniqueness of the phrase activated something in my heart I couldn’t describe. Marc went on to tell me in the email how he had been with his sweet little daughter on their porch over the weekend staring up at the trees when Norah blurted out the phrase. As she said ‘Sway’, Marc looked up at the trees waving in the wind and said for some reason he thought of me. Needless to say, I was moved beyond belief and thoroughly convinced God had communicated to me indirectly through this sweet little girl of just 18 months old. From that day forward, I had the title of my story and a unique direction for my new book.
Perseverance and undeniable Faith in God. Wow, the theme of the story and quite frankly my life. After writing Sway, I thought I was done with our health dramas until the day I found out the love of my life had been diagnosis with pancreatic cancer just eight months after my final melanoma surgery. My wife, Debra, who embodies perseverance and faith would now have to go through her own journey of eradicating a nuisance of a weed.
If you know anything about pancreatic cancer it has a notorious and frustrating reputation. One so frustrating it tends to suck the very wind out of your sail even before you have to fight it.
Immediately, Debra’s diagnosis prompted a recommendation to excise the tumor through what is known as the Whipple surgery. This surgery is not only intense but it is described as one of the most challenging surgeries next to open heart.
The night before her surgery Debra received a random email from a friend of hers which depicted an image of a surgeon performing a surgery. Next to the surgeon, in the image, stood Jesus guiding the surgeon’s hands. It was a beautiful image which gave us all comfort the night before her surgery. Ironically, we came to realize the image was not only beautiful but it was amazingly true. During the surgery the surgeon nicked an artery and had to miraculously save Debra even before the Whipple procedure began. Needless to say, we were all convinced Jesus guided the surgeon hands that day and most definitely had our backs throughout this intense procedure.
As the weeks went on we were brought to our knees more than once when we were given a diagnosis of the worst type of pancreatic cancer. To compound this, the treatment prescribed was also the most aggressive type of chemo. Our family and friends rallied behind us like no other. This is when the power of prayer kicked in and the miracles intensified. Each week another milestone fell and the prayers strengthened. Some news was good and some was bad. Through it all God remained a steadfast in our thoughts, prayers and lives.
With her aggressive chemo treatments only a week away, the next milestone for us was a CAT SCAN to set a baseline for the oncologist. The night before the scan we had a local priest, Fr. Jim Cosgrove (ironically initials of JC) came by our home to bless and anoint Debra. The very second he walked in our house he said, he felt God’s presence in our home. He went on to perform a beautiful healing service and left us all with a sense of contentment like no other.
The following day Debra had the CAT scan and remarkably the report read there was no mass anywhere throughout her organs. The weeds were gone for now! To add to this, the next day we received a second opinion from the original pathology. This second opinion differed from the original dramatically and confirmed the tumor was actually considered neuroendocrine and not pancreatic cancer, a much more treatable scenario. The original diagnosis was inaccurate and we now had a new type of hope in this incredible scenario. One of optimism and faith. We know our battle may not be over, but we also know God will have our back through it all and be our guiding force through whatever awaits us.
It goes without saying, through the numerous circumstances our family had experienced in just twelve short months our strength to persevere had been tested. Interestingly though, through it all, our faith increased daily and had been ignited, like no other, even at our lowest points. Debra and I both uniquely felt the power of prayer in both our journeys and truly felt God’s presence every step of the way.
Through it all, we all had come to understand the powerful yet simplistic message of what little 18 month old Norah Petre saw in the waiving trees above through Sway. My hope and prayer for you is to feel the same presence of God as you travel through the pages ahead and experience Ryan Kerry and his own personal journey to better understand Sway.
Allow yourself to reflect on your own personal journeys as you follow Ryan. Through this reflection, my hope is for you to understand, regardless of the magnitude of your challenges, Sway can be your answer.
Sway: A Message of Perseverance and Faith
Ryan Kerry has been through a lot this year. From four invasive melanoma excision surgeries on his face, to an ultimatum from his boss to relocate or lose his job, he has been searching for answers emotionally as well as spiritually. When he agrees to move south before his family can join him, he finds himself alone in a home which welcomes him with a very unique weed infestation.
Through countless measures to rid the persistent weed nuisance, Ryan finds himself in an unimaginable situation and surreal setting as he meets a local hardware owner who guides him into a spiritual journey unlike anything he could ever imagine. Through numerous circumstances which test and bring him to his knees, Ryan ultimately finds the strength to persevere while increasing his faith along the way. Through it all, he comes to understand the powerful yet simplistic definition and message of Sway.
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