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The HWS Update

Prayer, Laughter and a Blog

Hobart alum Peter J. Flierl ’67 has long been recognized as one of the most important voices in the breast cancer awareness and education community. A writer and health educator who resides in Riverside, Conn., his award winning book titled “Prayer, Laughter and Broccoli: Being there when your wife has breast cancer,” was the AATH 2006 Book of the Year. Additionally, Flierl was named the 2007 Breast Cancer Champion by Yoplait, Self and the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.

At the time of publication, Flierl’s wife, Shirley Billings Flierl, was a 21-year survivor of an aggressive, metastatic breast cancer that had extensive lymph node involvement. Shirley unwittingly found herself at the leading edge of what in hindsight can be seen as a trend toward diagnosis of breast cancer in women at an earlier age. She was 37 when diagnosed. Shirley has been an American Cancer Society Reach to Recovery volunteer for more than 18 years, bringing knowledge, experience and hope to scores of women.

In order to recognize his wife’s 30th anniversary as a survivor, which she’ll mark on Nov. 8, Flierl has created a blog filled with the wisdom and advise that made his book so powerful. “Prayer, Laughter and Broccoli” is filled with common sense that is all too often uncommon. He discusses everything from accepting help from friends and helping out with child care and cooking, to accompanying Shirley to treatments and sexuality.

Flierl explains that he feels so passionate about this because “The 30 percent of husbands that stick it out are alone with their fear and emotions. At the time, I believed I was about to become a single dad for our then 3-year-old daughter.”
Flierl has worked in the health care industry for more than 30 years, where he specializes in planning, funding and development of wellness and alternative medicine programs serving communities in southwest Connecticut and the lower Hudson Valley.

He received a B.A. in English from Hobart College and an M.S.W. in clinical social work from the Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. He is founder and president of HealthGain, a health care marketing, fundraising and consulting business. He is also a freelance writer and publicist and heads his own communication firm, WriteWell. His blog is