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Janice M. Van Dyck's novel 'Finding Frances' explores our say over terms of our deaths

Dying on our own terms

When a loved one is dying, family members may be at odds. Continue with treatment? Comfort measures only? It may be the most difficult decision many of us will ever make. Finding Frances, a new novel by Janice M. Van Dyck, tells the story of a family grappling with end-of-life decisions. A lifelong smoker, Frances Baldwin has emphysema, congestive heart failure and wants to die on her terms. But her husband and grown children aren't ready to accept that. Finding Frances explores the reality that although technology can keep us alive, should it if it means a poor quality of life? Van Dyck, who lives in the Tampa Bay area, wrote from personal experience, and also found additional focus in the story of Terri Schiavo of Largo, declared brain dead but whose family wrestled personally and in court about her rights. "How much control do we have over the terms of our own death?" Van Dyck said in press materials. She's involved with Project Grace, a nonprofit Suncoast Hospice affiliate devoted to advance care planning. Go to (Finding Frances, Winston-Higgins Press, 296 pages, $18).

Christmas cookie call!

The St. Petersburg Times' annual Christmas cookie issue of Taste, which publishes Dec. 1, will include two dozen of the most enticing reader recipes. Submit as many cookie recipes as you'd like by Sept. 17 to Christmas Cookies, Taste, St. Petersburg Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. Include your name, city of residence and daytime phone number. Recipes also may be e-mailed to Put COOKIES in the subject line. Please don't send recipe cards; because of the volume of submissions we can't return them.

Walk for a good cause

Join a 3-mile walk to raise money for care, support and research into Alzheimer's disease. It begins at 9 a.m. Sept. 25 at the Pier in St. Petersburg, 800 Second Ave. NE. The Florida Gulf Coast Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association is registering individuals and teams. (727) 578-2558;

Take precautions in the summer heat

"How hot is it? It's so hot that . . ." Guffaws ensued when Johnny Carson finished his classic setup. Who's laughing now? A lot of folks may not take heat warnings to heart, a Kent State University poll found. Nearly 90 percent of respondents 65 and older knew about the warnings, but only half did anything about it. Why? They said those messages were for older folks, a group they certainly did not belong to. Hmm. Think again. All folks need to take these tips to heart (for more, go to

Stay well hydrated: Keep drinking water throughout the course of the day, even if you're not thirsty.

Stay out of the sun: Do chores early or late in the day.

Eat plenty, but eat light: Heavy foods require your body to work harder to digest them, which uses more water and generates more body heat.

• • •

ON TV: Peter O’Toole and Omar Sharif star in the classic film Lawrence of Arabia, an epic in the Arabian Desert, showing at 8 p.m. Saturday Aug. 28 on TCM. Hosts Robert Osborne and Alec Baldwin introduce the Academy Award-winning 1962 film. It’s part of their ongoing feature, “The Essentials,” in which they share must-see films from back in the day, every Saturday night. Up next: The Graduate, 8 p.m. Sept. 4.

Janice M. Van Dyck's novel 'Finding Frances' explores our say over terms of our deaths 08/24/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 24, 2010 4:58pm]
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