Encinitas woman documents cancer journey in fictional book


When Encinitas resident Sylvia Peddycord set out to write a fictional book, she didn’t imagine her personal life would be written out on the pages. However, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer during the writing process that all changed.

In the early 2000s, Peddycord began writing “Shouting for Grace,” which was released in March. Originally, the story was supposed to focus on a mother named Ellie with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), but when Peddycord was diagnosed with breast cancer, so was Ellie.

“My cancer just became entwined in the book and the characters,” Peddycord said. “One thing led to another, and the cancer just found its way into my writing.”

In “Shouting for Grace,” Ellie moves to San Diego to overcome her OCD but decides to goes back home to North Carolina to care for her estranged teenage daughter, Grace. During that time, her world is further complicated with a cancer diagnosis.

Peddycord — who is originally from North Carolina before moving to San Diego, like Ellie — described the writing process as “empowering.” While Ellie’s story wasn’t entirely hers, she could vent and share her own experience through someone else.

She said the book took her years to write because of her diagnosis and births of her five grandchildren.

By the time she was done writing the 306-page book, she said she had trouble publishing it because publishers told her a story about cancer “probably wouldn’t sell.”

Eventually, she teamed up with San Diego-based Balboa Press to release the book in March via online distributors, such as Amazon. Her next goal is to get it in bookstores, she said.

Peddycord, who formerly worked in finance before becoming a full-time author, plans to donate 10 percent of royalties received from sales through Dec. 31, 2019 to the Breast Cancer Research Fund to help with the fight against breast cancer.

“There are so many incredible things happening now, and I kind of want to help bring it to the forefront with the book,” she said.

Peddycord, who has been cancer-free for 15 years, said because cancer affects so many people — including those who are diagnosed and those who know them — anyone can read this book and find it to be comforting.

“People are telling me it demystifies cancer to talk about the process,” she said, adding she is currently working on her second book. “So many people have said they know people who have gone through cancer and they were afraid to ask about it. It’s been very rewarding from that standpoint, and this seems like the right thing to do.”

For more information about “Shouting for Grace” and to purchase the book, visit