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Contributing Authors​​​ - Gift of the Hit: Collected Stories - Volume 1

Thomas Cantley aka Ballsy
Thomas Cantley
aka "Ballsy"
Patricia Arnoldin

Q. What do a college student who was told he’d die within two years without a new heart and lungs,  a celebrity photographer brought to his knees by stage III testicular cancer, a widower with three young kids to raise, and a young woman living with the debilitating effects of Lupus all have in common?

A. They have all lived through adversity long enough to find the perspective that in every set back there can be a gift. Our contributing authors share two things in common:

1. A Hit of Adversity, and

2. The Discovery of Insights and Blessings, a Gift, that helped make sense of it all. ​​

If you are currently going through a challenge, then these testimonials to the strength of the human spirit will inspire you. If you take your life and it's infinite possibilities for love for granted, then the stories in this book will open your grateful heart.


"My Parkinson's diagnosis at age 45 turned out to be the best thing that has ever happened to me!" - Peter Davison, Coordinator

Beyond cliches involving silver linings or making lemonade, these stories, from ordinary people trying to make sense out of extraordinary events, reveal profound insights into the strength of the human spirit when faced withthe challenge of embracing adversity. We invite you to join us.

We have been inspired to share our stories with the hope that we can uplift others and in some way help them get through their "dark night of the soul."

HIT: After a lifetime of sexual, physical and psychological trauma Patricia was left a frightened young woman overwhelmed by facing life without knowing of the good within herself or the world around her.

GIFT: By choosing to allow her abuse to spur a deep-rooted awakening, Patricia catapulted herself in to a life of experiencing joyous love and recreating herself from the very core of her being.

Mark Black

HIT: On a sunny May day, at the young age of 23, Mark was told that without a new heart and two new lungs he would be dead before his 25th birthday.


GIFT: With the acceptance of his newly transplanted organs, Mark chose to live from the heart and synthesize the lessons of his death-defying experience in to speaking, writing and coaching endeavors as an Adversity Advisor to thousands across North America.

Corey Poirier

HIT: Confused and angry as a nine year old it was easy to blame and target his mother as a scapegoat for their hardship, and his anxiety and hypochondria that followed her decision to divorce.


GIFT: Being the sole focus of his single mothers devotion and

love through thick and thin inspired Corey to pay it forward and devote his talents and time to help others to find and fulfill their unique passion and purpose.​

Jenny Kierstead

HIT: Growing up with a family member with mental illness, Jenny survived her confusion, guilt and crippling self-esteem by clinging to the rigidity of perfectionism, which escalated into a life threatening case of anorexia nervosa. ​

GIFT: On the brink of starving to death, Jenny leapt into the unknown depths of her inner world, searching for her true essence beyond the suffering. Now a seasoned yogi and renowned spiritual teacher, she is the founder of a franchise system of yoga studios to Awaken the Extraordinary in others.

Ken Pierce

HIT: A sharp pain in his left arm pulled Ken back from his imminent retirement and life as a vegetarian jogger psychologist.  It was a pain that uncovered the truth of heart disease and a new life of being married to Nature's Laws.

GIFT: Gaining awareness of the two sides of stress, Ken woke up to the immaculate perfection of his life and gratitude for not just its pleasures but equally its pains...regardless of where they appear.

Jeanie Cockell

HIT: At the peak of her consulting career, resurging after breast cancer, continuing to live with an ongoing blood disorder, Jeanie woke up in a hospital bed with a crushed femur, broken pelvis and ribs, massive internal bleeding, concussion, punctured lung as a result of a car accident.

GIFT: Being authentically ALIVE (Appreciate, Love, Inquire, Venture, Evolve) is a huge gift that Jeanie lives by and shares with others through writing, speaking, facilitating, teaching, coaching and consulting.

Michael Millette

HIT: Michael and Jackie's lives changed dramatically after Jackie developed the first symptoms of ALS in 2005. The disease took Jackie's life in the fall of 2012.​

GIFT: Through being an intimate witness to unimaginable suffering and heartache, Michael has come to know the true meaning of Grace and Acceptance, and now carries with him a deep empathy for other people suffering through horrendous illness.

David Maginley

HIT: Facing a rare cancer four times and having a near-death experience, David had to live with deadly tumors that could explode with any heighted emotional state.

GIFT: David’s experience with cancer fueled his awareness
of the gift of life. It also led to explorations in the nature of consciousness and how life continues after death. This transformed the quality of his presence with himself, and
in his work as a chaplain at a major hospital, where he
guides those on the edge of immortality.

Sheila Morrison

HIT: When mental illness saw her 18 year old daughter hospitalized and traumatized for 15 years, Sheila fought an uphill battle for reform in mental health care to include compassion, respect and inclusion of the family.

GIFT: Against professional advice Sheila and her husband brought their daughter home, saw only possibility, nurtured every second of wellness, and in the process discovered within themselves a depth of compassion and love far deeper than they imagined possible.

Peter Davison

HIT: ​As a free-minded bachelor, motivational speaker and adventure traveler with a healthy lifestyle, Peter was stunned and ashamed to get diagnosed with Parkinson's disease at age 45 and spiraled into dark denial.

GIFT: Parkinson's disease called Peter's bluff on a decades old belief that he was unworthy of love. After surrendering his heart, his world blossomed into a life unimagined as a first time Dad in his fifties, twice, and a future worth looking forward to.

Tatiana Morren Fraser

HIT: The world yelled Cut! in the story of Thomas’s life, as he was halted in his career as a high flying filmmaker & photographer in New York by the diagnosis of stage III testicular cancer.


GIFT: Through a shift in paradigm, Thomas used his Ballsy approach to life to propel the documentary footage of his ordeal with testicular cancer in to a worldwide revolution for the education and awareness of men’s health.​

Louise Levesque Burley

HIT: Born with the twin challenges of chronic juvenile arthritis and visual impairment, Louise faced a life of never seeing beyond daily struggle.


GIFT: Despite her physical limitations, Louise persevered with tenacity, courage and INsight to make her professional speaking and training dreams a reality, as she engages, entertains and educates audiences to make The Impossible Possible in their own lives.

Paul Roy

HIT: After job losses, the surrender of businesses that he had proudly grown, and the end of his marriage, Paul wondered if he could triumph over an ongoing struggle with ADD and an endless pursuit of wanting to be somebody in this life.

GIFT: Paul came to embrace the relentless energy, drive and determination of his ADD as the fuel to propel him to a life of great abundance as a successful businessman and compassionate coach for fellow entrepreneurs.

Kathy Jourdain

HIT: Helplessly watching her vibrant mother's descent into a diminishing world of dementia, Kathy made the heart-wrenching decision to commit her mother to the corridors of death and dying of a nursing home at the young age of 76.

GIFT: Kathy looked into her mother’s eyes the night she died with a peaceful, grateful heart knowing her human tragedy story was transformed through the perspective of soul journey.  Kathy forever shifted the shape of her life as a consultant and author to help others make new meaning of their life experiences.

Ella-Fay Zalezsak

HIT:  Ella-Fay questioned how she could bury the life that she had been building with her husband when he suddenly passed away, leaving her with mounting bills, a pre-teen son, a teenage daughter and a broken heart.

GIFT:  With evolving strength, spirit and courage, Ella-Fay opened her life to a path of friends and a wealth of experience that led her to discover her authentic self and happiness.

Dr.Dena Churchill

HIT: Dena’s life was torn in to a hundred little pieces by a tumultuous divorce that ensued after the parting was chaperoned by the police.  Her chiropractic practice, family home, custody of her kids and ability to re-pay debt lay scattered before her for dissection.

GIFT: Showcasing the divinity of divorce as a wonderful world of joy beyond pain and suffering, Dena now shares her strength as an international speaker, author and world innovator in women’s health and wellness

Topher Wurts

​HIT: Like most new parents, Topher and Jana upheld hopes and dreams for a typically successful life for their son until he was diagnosed as classically autistic and their future imaginary child died.


GIFT: Freed of the weight of living up to expectations, Topher and his family discovered how every precious moment is fresh with abundant opportunities to celebrate authentic success and cherish individuality.

Kelly Falardeau

HIT: A burn survivor at age 2, Kelly's wet diaper may have saved her life but did not protect her from growing up as that ugly scar-faced girl struggling to cling to self-esteem and confidence in the face of staring, teasing and rejection.

GIFT: Kelly is on a global mission as a single mother, speaker and bestselling author to help people live shame-free regardless of outward appearances and unconditionally love themselves by embracing their true beauty and strength.

Joscelyn Duffy

HIT: The winds of change hit fast and furious as Joscelyn’s vast world of social and career possibilities narrowed to the confines of her home, as she spent her late twenties working through a debilitating and life-threatening case of lupus nephritis.


GIFT: Fusing her knowingness gained in using illness as a healing guide with her abilities as a gifted writer, Joscelyn now helps others claim their personal power by trusting their truths, finding their authentic voice and living out their purpose.

Halina St. James
Halina St. James

HIT: In a matter of seconds Halina lost the power of speech and the ability to write. What would it mean for her life, and her career as a speaker and communications coach?


GIFT: As she worked to recover from the stroke, Halina took a hard look at what was really important in her life. And realized her priorities had to change if she was to avoid the pressure and stress that caused her illness. She calls her stroke a stroke of good luck because it gave her a second chance.

HIT: Shattered by the unbearable pain of losing her son Andrew and enduring his stillbirth, Tatiana was left wondering how to resume her life when it had been torn apart.


GIFT: Allowing her son's spirit to guide her, Tatiana found the courage to feel the rawness of her grief, comprehend the impermanence of life, and heal in a way that opened her to a personal rebirth and another son.

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