Our Featured Voice for March 2012 is 30-year-old, Canadian author, Ricky Tsang. If you are part of the Facebook world, you probably are friends with Ricky or have at least seen his name around. He is the author of the recently released, RIDICULOUS: The Mindful Nonsense of Ricky’s Brain, which has been called “a unique book from a unique mind.” After reading this month’s interview, you will agree. Ricky has a great outlook on life and has given his Duchenne experience a personal perspective with universal themes. Ricky is using his voice to help comfort and strengthen the Duchenne community, and makes us laugh while doing it.

 

Hey Ricky! Congratulations on the book and on being our March Voice! Tell us a little bit about you. How old are you?  When did you learn about Duchenne and how were you told?

This is kind of a funny story. When I was taken to Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto, Ontario for a muscle biopsy as a seven-year-old boy, my parents promised me ice cream afterwards. Of course, I knew there was something wrong following the diagnosis, but didn’t care. I just had my frozen dessert and continued being a kid, chasing after all the pretty girls…!

My parents didn’t feel that as a child, I should be subjected to such news, and so there wasn’t a specific time frame.  I gradually discovered the truth alongside my progression of physical weakness. Sometimes you just know these things without the need for terminologies or explanations. I never felt it was something to focus on.

I’ll be 31 years old in May.

What are you studying or did you study?  What do you want to do when you graduate?

To be honest, I had to leave high school in grade ten because I couldn’t take care of myself anymore. At the time of my departure, the educational board couldn’t afford to provide a full-time assistant, so I didn’t feel there was much of a choice. However, I eventually graduated after attending several online courses.

After losing the ability to draw with my hands (another reason for my departure), I discovered my calling for the literary arts.  I had always wanted to be a cartoonist, but ended up becoming an author. My first book is called RIDICULOUS: The Mindful Nonsense of Ricky’s Brain, and hopefully, it won’t be my last.

 

Tell us about your book.  What inspired you to write a book?  What has the response been?  Other books in the works?

RIDICULOUS: The Mindful Nonsense of Ricky’s Brain is actually the world’s first ever “autobrainography”. Written with sleek but uncensored prose, it’s a diary of sorts that include real-life stories, along with a collection of love letters, and not to mention tragedy, self-help, philosophies, and much, much more.

Although I write on my experiences with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, I focus more on the things I can do, which is to encourage others through writing. I was inspired to write this book because I wanted to leave my mark in this world and say that my physical limitations can never define me. I’m defined according to who I am. Society needs to understand that people in wheelchairs aren’t stories for pity, but real human beings with a desire to express themselves.

I’ve been writing this 422-pager for over five years, with only one hand via a computer mouse. I did everything myself, including editing, designing, publishing, and marketing. I want to use this to encourage others to know that anything is possible and there’s always hope, if we believe in ourselves.

But the reception has been phenomenal to say the least. I’ve been humbled by all the wonderful responses, including great reviews from various readers. People have called my book “hilarious”, “refreshing”, and even “inspirational”. I’ve sold more than 300 copies in just six months, and I’m extremely grateful to all the incredible support I’ve received.

The Toronto Star, the largest newspaper in all of Canada, even featured my storyback in January of this year as a cover article, both in the paper and online.  I’m also going on a talk show for Fairchild Television, Canada’s Chinese network, in April.

I’m very thankful to everyone.  I couldn’t have done so much without their help, and I’m definitely writing more books, so stay tuned!


So your book is going to be made into a big feature film.  Who plays you?

Ha, I don’t know about that one, but if there’s a possibility, I’d say myself. It just wouldn’t be right for some Hollywood pretty boy to take my place!


How do you talk about Duchenne to someone who doesn’t know what it is?

My mechanical rear end kind of says it all (I’m on a ventilator). I just explain the technical facts, but other than that, my goal is to make sure women don’t think I’m contagious. Duchenne muscular dystrophy isn’t something I need to focus on.


Have you spent much time in the States?  What differences have you witnessed between care/treatment in Canada vs. the U.S.?

As a child, I’ve travelled to the United States with my family, but those visits were mainly for vacationing purposes, so I couldn’t tell you the differences. However, I will say that Canadian healthcare is excellent, and I’m being taken care of really well. I have government coverage for almost all equipment and supplies, while there are nurses who help out six days a week, along with several nights.


Finally, if you could have dinner with any three people, real or fictitious, living or deceased, who would you choose and why?

  • My first pick would be Batman/Bruce Wayne because he empathizes most with my feelings of wanting to help those in need.
  • My second pick would be Taylor Swift because as a writer, her lyrics and music are the epiphany of eloquence.  I admire her very much.
  • And third and most importantly, Jerry Lewis… his lifelong efforts in ending Muscular Dystrophy is heroic.  Plus, I really want him to read my book!


To purchase RIDICULOUS: The Mindful Nonsense of Ricky’s Brain, visit Ricky’s website.



Will Nolan, Communications Director
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