A year ago, Cornwall-Lebanon gym teacher and cross country coach Rob Bare was looking for a way to honor the memory of his wife, Tiffany Bare, who had passed away from cancer a year earlier. Eventually he made a plan: he would write a book about her fight with cancer and share her story with the world.

On May 10, Bare sold the 1,000th copy of “Braving Your Adversity,” his combination memoir and self-help book detailing how the family endured Tiff’s struggles.

Bare wrote “Braving Your Adversity” last year amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic meant that he had more free time than he’d had in years, since athletics were at a standstill. So Bare hired a writing coach and set off on his journey to tell Tiff’s story.

“When I hired my writing coach, I told him, ‘Hey, I want to tell Tiff’s story, I want to share what our life was together and that’s gonna be the book,'” Bare explained in an interview. “He immediately stopped me there and said ‘Rob, if I’ve ever coached somebody that’s gonna write a self-help book, this is the book that we want to do.’”

Bare’s first step was to outline the book. Fourteen chapters, each starting with a quote. Each telling a story, whether about Tiffany’s life or a national event. Each ending with exercise questions encouraging readers to get through their own struggles.

Tiffany and Rob Bare at their wedding, Sept. 22, 2001.

Chapter one tells the last few months of Tiffany’s life before the family called in hospice. Chapter two travels back to 2000, when Rob and Tiffany met for the first time on the patio of the Bluebird. What follows is their whole story: the good days, the bad days, and how they got through them with hope, faith and courage—a recurring motif in “Braving Your Adversity.”

“Those three words were really important,” explained Bare. “Tiffany really had hope, faith, and courage, so it was important that I got that across to the reader: how courageous she was in the face of great adversity, how her faith was super important, and how she always needed to have hope.”

Bare tells about how, after Tiffany was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004, she did everything she could to stay on earth with Bare and their two sons, Matthew and Zachary. Through many treatments, she was able to keep going for another 15 years until she passed away March 25, 2019.

Tiffany and son Zach at the 2005 Relay for Life. This year, Zach is a senior at Cedar Crest High School, and received the cross country #teamtiff award celebrating students who exemplify courage in the face of adversity.

“You hear people say, ‘oh they lost their battle’ to whatever it might be, they lost their battle to cancer, they lost their battle to heart disease,” said Bare. “Tiff never lost the battle. She fought until she just wasn’t able to fight anymore. I want people to understand that no one ever really gives up. They might get tired of fighting and things like that. The disease, whatever it might be, might take over. But nobody gives up; Tiffany would never give up, she fought to the bitter end.”

When it came to writing, Bare was dedicated. From June 1 to Oct. 1, Bare wrote a chapter a week, almost every single week.

“It was like Tiff was sitting on my shoulder the entire time, like she was telling me ‘write about this’ or ‘write about that,’” Bare said of the writing process.

Tiffany visits with Gus the therapy dog at the Sechler Cancer Center, summer of 2018.

While Bare was advised not to write solely for therapeutic purposes, he found that writing “Braving Your Adversity” helped him to grieve and work through his family’s pain.

“I laughed as I wrote, I cried as I wrote, I was proud of her, and of course I was sad as I wrote too,” said Bare. “I think that’s why it was so therapeutic. I think I was holding some things back that first year, and once I started to write I was able to get those feelings down and get those emotions out.”

Throughout the book, Bare encourages readers to keep fighting and support those in their lives who are struggling, even in the worst of times.

“I didn’t want it to be a doom and gloom book,” he said. “Even though the outcome was her passing away, I didn’t want the reader to be depressed, or saddened, or not have the skills to fight if they’re going through any type of adversity. We made sure that it was gonna be a self help book that was gonna be positive.”

Five days before her passing, Tiffany Bare shows her beautiful smile.

“I tell the reader, adversity can take you to a place you never would’ve gotten to before, and it can change you for the better if you allow it to. Is it easy, no, it’s not easy. But if you allow it to, it can make yourself better. I think that’s what it’s done in our life as a family; my sons, myself, we want to honor Tiff, we want to remember Tiff. When we go through tough and challenging days, we want to make sure that we brave our adversity with her hope, faith and courage that she displayed.”

Once the book was written, Bare’s work was not yet finished. One task that Bare recalled was selecting the cover image. After going through 55 designs, Bare finally found one that he loved: a long pier lit by sunset (or sunrise).

“I thought, that’s the one I want,” he explained. “Because it reminds me of your road ahead. That wooden pier just reminds me of the road ahead and you’re either going to a sunset or a sunrise, and use that hope, faith, and courage to brave your adversity.”

2003, Tiffany poses with Matthew and Zachary at the playground.

Around two months ago, Bare received the first shipment of 600 books and was unsure whether he would be able to sell them all. Now, after over 1000 sales through his website and book signing events, Bare is looking into Amazon and Barnes and Noble to get “Braving Your Adversity” to a wider audience.

“I’ve opened the book up to any type of reader,” Bare explained, noting that he had received feedback from different types of people saying they had enjoyed the book. “Some people have to endure some track and field stories and some sports stories, they might not be into that; some readers might not get into the mushy stuff, the love letter stuff, they have to endure that. But I think the book is for every type of reader to challenge themselves to be the best they can be.”

To order the book, visit Braving Your Adversity’s website.

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Emily Bixler was born and raised in Lebanon and now reports on local government. In her free time, she enjoys playing piano and going for hikes.