The Authors

Anna Leahy
Lisa Sparks

Our parents faced cancer. Through those separate experiences, we each began thinking about what cancer means for individuals and for our shared culture. We learned a lot about how to ask questions, find and share information, and make the best decisions possible. In our research and writing as professionals with different perspectives, we’ve investigated many ways of conversing with cancer. We offer ideas for a wide variety of readers, including patients, caregivers, healthcare providers, and health communication scholars and students.

Anna Leahy, PhD

Anna Leahy is the author of Tumor in Bloomsbury’s Object Lessons series and the co-author of Conversing with Cancer in Peter Lang’s Language as Social Action series. She is the author of two poetry collections, Aperture from Shearman Books and Constituents of Matter, which won the Wick Poetry Prize, and co-author with Douglas R. Dechow of Generation Space: A Love Story. Her essays won the top awards from both Ninth Letter and Dogwood in 2016. She serves as the Director of the MFA in Creative Writing at Chapman University. She also directs Tabula Poetica, for which she curates a poetry reading series and edits the international literary journal TAB. She edited the book Power and Identity in the Creative Writing Classroom, which launched the New Writing Viewpoints series, and edited and co-wrote What We Talk about When We Talk about Creative Writing, which celebrates the series’ tenth anniversary. Her poetry and nonfiction about cancer and other topics appears widely. See more at

Follow @AMLeahy on Twitter & Anna Leahy on Facebook.

Lisa Sparks, PhD

Lisa Sparks is Dean and Foster and Mary McGaw Endowed Professor in Behavioral Sciences in the School of Communication at Chapman University in Orange, California. She is also affiliated with the University of California, Irvine, as a Full Member of Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center/NCI Designated and as Adjunct Professor in the Public Health Program there. She is the author, co-author, or editor of more than one hundred books and articles in the field of health communication, including Health Communication in the 21st Century and Cancer, Communication, and Aging. Lisa Sparks serves on the Board of Directors for the Susan G. Komen Foundation of Orange County.