Resilience, hope and creativity shape Howard Brown’s remarkable life every single day, an inspiring story you can read in his new memoir, Shining Brightly.
Those three pillars also shape the life and work of Crumb Snatchers Confectionery artist Jennifer Bass who Howard now is introducing to our worldwide community of writers and readers. She currently operates out of her home kitchen in Ohio and her Facebook page. Perhaps someday we can convince her to publish a book with us, too. She’s among several promising authors Howard has introduced to our Front Edge Publishing staff.
We all expected Howard to shake up our community of professionals with unique ideas. After all, as readers discover in the pages of his book, he is famous for his ground-breaking entrepreneurial spirit that made him one of the early Silicon Valley pioneers.
Now, that innovative spirit extends to serving Jennifer’s fresh-baked cookies with his book!
Or, perhaps we should explain it more clearly as: Howard is serving fresh-baked cookies that are his book! That’s thanks to his friendship with Jennifer and her artistry.
This is an important story to share because it illustrates two other themes that are central to Shining Brightly: the importance of friendship to our health and wellbeing as well as the crucial need to support each other through traumas such as life-threatening cancer.
As readers of Shining Brightly are discovering, Howard beat advanced stage IV cancer not once, but twice! Now, he serves as a leading figure in cancer-support-and-resiliency organizations nationwide. As Howard puts it: “Beating cancer is a team sport.”
Through the true stories in his book, Howard teaches all of us how to heighten our own senses of listening and seeing so that we can make compassionate connections with others.
That’s how he lives each day. Or, as he puts it: “Life is not about how much we can get; it’s about how much we can give.”
And that’s how he met Crumb Snatchers cookie artist Jennifer Bass, who shares these same values and, like Howard, serves among the leaders of Colontown, a major nonprofit that connects and empowers colorectal cancer patients and their families around the world. Howard and Jennifer met at a national leadership meeting for Colontown. Always wanting to know more about the people he meets, Howard learned how Jennifer turned her background as an artist into a home-baked business. They clicked both as cancer survivors and as entrepreneurs.
As his book was debuting on Amazon, Howard ordered book-cover cookies that Jennifer created and shipped to him—without breaking a single one! That alone was impressive. But, the biggest surprise that Howard reports was this:
“They’re delicious! Her cookies are absolutely delicious!” Howard said.
“Well, when I started doing this, I was determined that my cookies actually would taste good,” Jennifer said in a joint Zoom this week with Howard.
“That’s important,” Howard said. “How often have you seen gorgeous cookies in a bakery and you buy some—only to discover they’re sooo hard and don’t taste very good.”
“That’s my pledge: I make cookies that look great and are good to eat in a whole bunch of different flavors,” Jennifer said.
Earlier in her life, Jennifer studied both art and education and worked as an art teacher, then she moved into full-time motherhood for three kids. So, she decided to take some time away from daily teaching.
“But then I was back in classrooms with my own kids as a volunteer,” Jennifer said. “And my life was very busy and happy and—” she paused for a moment “—and then I had this pain in my left side.”
Like Howard, Jennifer was too young for her doctor to suggest colorectal screening. The national standard currently is age 45 and Jenifer was only 36 at the time. She was sure that pain was just something that would go away—until her husband intervened and insisted she go to a hospital and have it thoroughly checked out.
Tests showed she had colon cancer, serious enough that a surgeon had to remove 16 inches of her large intestine plus some lymph nodes. “And that also led to 12 rounds of chemo,” she said.
“Ohhh, hearing her tell that story, it’s so similar to my second cancer,” Howard said. “I was too young. I had no idea. Then: Bang!”
“And like Howard, I went online and needed to find people just like me, going through this same thing. I needed to connect with people who I could talk to for support. I found Colontown and that just clicked! I felt at home. This felt like family to me. And now, even though I’ve been cancer free since 2019, I want to give back,” Jennifer said.
With her background in education, “she was a natural to become a trainer in our Empowered Patient Leader program,” Howard said. “That makes a huge difference in helping people to build their resilience.”
“So, now, I am one of the Empowered Patient Leader teachers; I’m an admin for some of our online groups; and I’m involved in Colontown leadership,” Jennifer said.
“She spreads hope wherever she goes,” Howard said. “And she’s certainly spreading a lot of joy with these amazing cookies! I didn’t even know you could order book-cover cookies and now everybody wants a cookie. And I only have a few.”
Our publishing house, until now, hasn’t heard of any authors who have served such a treat.
But that may change with this column.
“I still run this business out of my home and I get referrals by word of mouth from my customers, like Howard,” Jennifer said. “If someone wants cookies, you can just stop by my Facebook page and we’ll connect and talk about what you want.”
“These cookies are such a great way to celebrate!” Howard said. “Anyone who has seen my book-cover cookies gets this big grin. They love it. And that’s really the point we’re trying to make all the time, isn’t it? We can share love. Every day, we can share hope with others. And I can tell you: Jennifer puts a whole lot of love into her cookies.”