It’s World Book Day and can you guess our theme for this year? Hang on just yet, if you’re thinking this is a list of cancer stories that you might just glaze over at the bookstore. These books share both information and inspiration enabling readers to question, challenge, reason with scenarios, people and the things that life throws at us. More importantly they are hand-picked to sensitize us to the realities of someone who is going through their cancer journey. As one of the writers puts it, “I am more than my cancer; treat me kindly, not differently.” If you’re a cancer fighter, read on to see that you are not alone. If you’re a survivor, welcome! If you’re a supporter or caregiver or just a reader, right this way. You won’t be disappointed.
- Through Fire and Rain: Surviving the Impossible with Love, Music, and Precision Medicine – Maryann Anselmo, Joseph Anselmo: This is a story of hope and redemption found in the future of cancer care through love, faith and advances in science. Joe and MaryAnn had made it through fire, they decided to stop chemotherapy. There is only a little more rain to endure. Her high-grade glioblastoma needs the attention of top specialists across the globe. Genomic sequencing becomes her last hope for which there has not been a positive outcome in medical history.
- A Series of Catastrophes and Miracles: A True Story of Love, Science, and Cancer – Mary Elizabeth Williams: A complex cancer memoir that begins with Spoiler: I lived. This book is for all the survivors: mothers, spouses, children as it explores the deep reserves of grit, courage, humor and the will to live. Wry and witty the book wrings tears and betrays laughs from the reader at the same time as it recounts how a clinical trial of an immunotherapy drug regimen cured Mary Elizabeth Williams of stage 4 melanoma. She learns to straddle life and death as she offers an important lesson in cutting-edge medicine, and the power of human connection when what works for her does not work for a friend.
- Living Out Loud: Sports, Cancer, and the Things Worth Fighting For – Craig Sager, Craig Sager Jr., Brian Curtis: A pleasant sprint read, the man of technicolor suits and of NBA interviews writes about his life with acute myeloid leukemia, chronicles his battle with a unique perspective. He continues at his job despite having been told that he has between 3 and 6 months to live. Sports buffs will enjoy the tone, humor, and insights.
- What Helped Get Me Through: Cancer Survivors Share Wisdom and Hope: Written by hundreds of cancer survivors and edited by Julie K. Silver, the book succinctly relates to thousands more who are of the fight. It is a trove of stories from both celebrities and the average person who has been diagnosed with cancer, who candidly pen down their experiences in the cancer treatment and care maze. Useful for health care professionals, cancer fighters, survivors, and caregivers.
- Cancer Vixen: A True Story (Pantheon Graphic Library) – Marisa Acocella Marchetto: Think of a fabulous life of a city-girl. That’s right, a free-spirited shopaholic, about to tie the knot in three weeks. Then imagine her crumble at the news of a cancer diagnosis. Now imagine this story in graphic novel. Marchetto’s story starts from her finding a lump in her breast through the 11 month treatment journey until her recovery. The humor is feisty and flavored with biting audacity and Cancer ‘Vixen’ is her refusal to be bogged down as a victim.
- Help Me Live, Revised: 20 Things People with Cancer Want You to Know – Lori Hope:Rachel Remen, MD, writes in her foreword to Help Me Live, “This is not a book about cancer, it is a book about you. About the importance of your love. About the many helpful ways of being there for someone else.” It is a lesson in how to comprehend a wrenching situation and be present for someone in the throes of cancer, someone who has been rendered extra-sensitive, vulnerable, and in need of a listening ear. This book is for friends, caregivers and patients.
- Cancer Made Me a Shallower Person – Miriam Engelberg: Engelberg illustrates how it is possible to be dead serious and absurd right from diagnosis, through treatment, chemotherapy, wigs, moving house, support groups and the terror of waiting for the second diagnosis report. The book holds the finest tradition of black humor as the cartoonist finds her greatest solace in drawing. She is like so many of us; human, conflicted and very likeable for all that.
- Close to the bone – Lisa Ray: In an Instagram video with a dark screen, Lisa Ray confesses that Close to the Bone is a promise to herself and to the world, to remove all the masks. She writes from a position of vulnerability with a theme that relates to her so closely. Having bravely fought through multiple myeloma in 2009, actor, model and writer, weaves an honest, real, sad, tender and funny take on her cancer journey.
- Traveling Daisy: A Generational Cancer Story of Disease and Dysfunction – Lisa Marie Wilson: Nobody claims that anything about cancer is funny. But the author is authentic, funny, raw and unabashedly bold as she attempts to find out if there are ways to avoid cancer; she asks, “Did my dysfunctional life caused my cancer?” detailing lifestyle habits of a lineage of cancer stories.
- A Story About Cancer With A Happy Ending – India Desjardins: From the PoV of a 15-year old, her voice is innocent, warm and fuzzy as she writes about her parents, her new-found love, her remission and all the things she would miss if her diagnosis brought bad news this time. Narrated with illustrations she says that her own journey is not a “battle…because there was nothing I could do to fight it. All I could do was let everything happen.”
What are you reading this World Book Day? Tell us! Or put your thoughts down on these books in the comments section below.