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By Gabrielle Russon

Alum Itta Galmore book front cover The age-old advice for writers is to “write what you know.”

For Itta-ZaVoni Rayelle Galmore, the inspiration for her latest book came from a health scare.

She developed an abscess that felt like a brick under her breast in 2013.

“I didn’t know what was going on,” Galmore said.

Treating the bad infection required emergency surgery and a blood transfusion, she said. Galmore suspected the abscess was caused by a bug bite that got infected. Her family worried about her throughout her ordeal. It took months to fully recover, and she moved in with her mother who took care of her. Her church community prayed for her.

Galmore, a Beacon College 2004 alumnus, was someone who had always loved writing whether it was poetry or short stories, so she did what any writer does: She decided to document her experience and put it down on paper.

“Writing brings me joy,” Galmore said.

Alum Itta Galmore headshot Itta’s Abscess in Her Left Breast: God Always Heals,” published earlier this year by Christian Faith Publishing and is now available on multiple online retail platforms, including Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

In her new book, Galmore wrote about the scary reality that an abscess can be a serious health issue. Galmore said she wants her readers to understand “that you can get an abscess anywhere and when it happens, take it seriously.”

She also dived into her thoughts on her faith, God’s healing power, and powerful Mother Nature.

“In this story, God was truly on my side,” Galmore wrote, looking back on a troubling time for her. “Some of this story is a little gloomy and sad, but the sun does eventually shine. It does get better. We all can get ill at any time. We know this. And God will either heal us or bring us home to where the streets are made of gold.”

So far this year, Galmore has signed copies of her book for her friends and family at events at a library in Washington, D.C., the city where she was born, and at her church in South Carolina. Galmore said she was impressed by the support she received.

Always pushing Galmore to write and tell her personal story had been her mother, Hannah Faye Pitts-Galmore Davis, who was one of her daughter’s biggest fans.

But tragically, her mother didn’t get to see Galmore’s latest endeavor published. Her mother died in October.

Galmore dedicated her book to her mom.

Telling her story through publishing a book

The ideas for Galmore’s memoirs come from her own life challenges as she writes under the name IZR Galmore.

Her first book “Brainstorm,” which published in 2015, tells about her personal journey dealing with her mental health. Galmore said she has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and also has learning disabilities. Galmore wrote how her family’s unconditional support, getting medical treatment and going to Beacon College all helped her. She is especially proud of not letting her mental illness stop her from finishing her college degree, she said.

Now 46, Galmore who lives in Newberry, South Carolina, looks back on her time at Beacon with fondness.

She learned about Beacon College while she was in high school and was drawn to a school with a mission to educate students with disabilities. As a bonus, Beacon was in sunny Florida and near Orlando, Galmore said.

At first, she struggled with homesickness and missing her family.

But at Beacon College, which was only about 100 students back then, Galmore had a strong network of professors, mentors and even the Beacon College president helping her become more independent and finding her way.

Then-Beacon College president Deborah Brodbeck remembered Galmore as an avid writer.

“She’s always kept journals and always would write,” said Brodbeck, who is the school’s longest serving president. “I think that was a way for her to help navigate schizophrenia and the challenges of that, and it was a way to express herself.”

Brodbeck urged Galmore to never give up journaling after college.

Galmore graduated with a bachelor’s degree in human services with a minor in psychology. By the time she left Beacon, she was a different person. The young woman who was terribly homesick had evolved into someone confident and knew what truly made her happy.

“What makes Itta happy is writing,” Brodbeck said. “It’s always been there.”

What’s next for the author

Now that she is a two-time published author, Galmore said she feels a sense of pride in what she has accomplished.

“I feel good. I knew I completed something,” Galmore said.

Davis, her stepfather, was impressed by her books too, especially since her second project took years to write, edit and fundraise for the expenses. He was amazed by Galmore’s sharp memory as she recollected her health scare.

“I admire the fact that she got two things published,” said Davis who called it a milestone.

As for Galmore, she is already thinking ahead to what she’ll write next.

“I think it’s going to be poetry,” Galmore said.