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Dealing with a cancer diagnosis, treatment or long-term survival issues can sometimes be overwhelming or confusing. If you're an adult patient or the caregiver of an adult patient, there are books that can help you find ways to better manage your new responsibilities. Browse the list below for books that can help you cope.

Suggested Reading - I Survived From Cancer to Runway

I Survived: From Cancer to the Runway by Erica Campbell
Dzire2Survive, March 26, 2021, 130 Pages, Paperback
ISBN: 978057878825

In “I Survived” author Erica Campbell shares her remarkable survival journey as a Hodgkin Lymphoma patient turned advocate for patient education and fashion model.  From a faith-based perspective, this personal account describes the onset of symptoms, the numerous physician appointments, multiple surgeries, the feelings of loneliness, and life after cancer. In the aftermath, she triumphed, and her resilience helped her ignite a spark to beat the odds in all facets of life.

Author’s website:

Suggested Reading - The Big Ordeal

The Big Ordeal: Understanding and Managing the Psychological Turmoil of Cancer by Cynthia Hayes
River Grove Books, February 2021, 264 pages
ISBN 978-1-63299-335-9 Print
ISBN 978-1-63299-336-6 eBook


Nothing can truly prepare you for the emotional rollercoaster of a cancer diagnosis, but The Big Ordeal will help you anticipate and respond to the psychological turmoil ahead. Written by a cancer survivor with the help of a psychotherapist and two oncologists, The Big Ordeal presents the typical emotional experience, illustrated by patient and caregiver stories. The book explains the science behind those emotions, helping you understand why you feel the way you do, and offers advice on how to cope. The book is based on interviews with over 100 patients, caregivers, oncologists, neuroscientists, and other experts.

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Suggested Reading - Cycle of Lives

Cycle of Lives: 15 People's Stories, 5,000 Miles, and a Journey Through the Emotional Chaos of Cancer by David Richman
River Grove Books, 2020, 376 Pages
ISBN 978-1-63299-299-4 Paperback
ISBN 978-1-63299-300-7 eBook

Cycle of Lives chronicles the lives of 15 people affected by cancer, including patients, doctors, researchers, and caregivers.  These moving stories cover many aspects of a cancer diagnosis.  Readers are able to examine a wide range of experiences and viewpoints to help them grow in empathy, and to better understand how issues affect the way people deal with the traumas that shape their lives.

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Suggested Reading - When Blood Breaks Down

When Blood Breaks Down - Life Lessons from Leukemia by Mikkael A. Sekeres, MD
MIT Press, April 2020, Hardcover, 328 Pages
ISBN: 9780262043724

In When Blood Breaks Down, Dr. Mikkael Sekeres, a leading cancer specialist, takes readers on a journey that patient and doctor travel together.  Sekeres tells the compelling stories of three people who receive diagnoses of adult leukemia within hours of each other: Joan, a 48-year-old surgical nurse, a caregiver who becomes a patient; David, a 68-year-old former factory worker who bows to his family's wishes and pursues the most aggressive treatment; and Sarah, a 36-year-old pregnant woman who must decide whether to undergo chemotherapy and put her fetus at risk. We join the intimacy of the conversations Sekeres has with his patients, and watch as he teaches trainees. Along the way, Sekeres also explores leukemia in its different forms and the development of drugs to treat it—describing, among many other fascinating details, the invention of the bone marrow transplant and a treatment that targets the genetics of leukemia. The lessons to be learned from leukemia, Sekeres shows, are not merely medical; they teach us about courage and grace and defying the odds.

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Suggested Reading - The Perks of Having Cancer

The Perks of Having Cancer: An Inspirational, Positive and Humorous View of a Not-So-Inspirational, Positive or Humorous Situation by Diana Bosse (Author), Steve Wallace (Illustrator)
Chilidog Press LLC, Paperback , October 2019, 232 pages
ISBN: 978-1-733-9955-1-1

A poignant, witty and laugh-out-loud funny journal of the day-to-day discoveries, surprises, and indignities of battling cancer. When Diana Bosse was given the news of her lymphoma diagnosis, she promised herself that she would stay positive throughout her journey to improve her chances of survival.  With humor, inspirational quotes and occasional religious references, she began posting daily “Perks of Having Cancer.”  By sharing her own experiences, she resolved to also lift the spirits of others dealing with cancer or helping a loved one fight the disease.

Author’s website:

Suggested Reading - A Beginner’s Guide to the End

A Beginner’s Guide to the End: Practical Advice for Living Life and Facing Death
By Dr. BJ Miller and Shoshana Berger
Simon & Schuster, 2019, 544 pages
ISBN 978-1-5011-5716-5
ISBN 978-1-5011-5722-6 (ebook)

“There is nothing wrong with you for dying,” hospice physician B.J. Miller and journalist and caregiver Shoshana Berger write in A Beginner’s Guide to the End. “Our ultimate purpose here isn’t so much to help you die as it is to free up as much life as possible until you do.”

Theirs is a clear-eyed and big-hearted action plan for approaching the end of life, written to help readers feel more in control of an experience that so often seems anything but controllable. Their book offers everything from step-by-step instructions for how to do your paperwork and navigate the healthcare system to answers to questions you might be afraid to ask your doctor, like whether or not sex is still okay when you’re sick. Get advice for how to break the news to your employer, whether to share old secrets with your family, how to face friends who might not be as empathetic as you’d hoped, and how to talk to your children about your will. There are also lessons for survivors, like how to shut down a loved one’s social media accounts, clean out the house, and write a great eulogy.

Suggested Reading - Voices of Cancer

Voices of Cancer: What We Really Want, What We Really Need - Insights for Patients and the People Supporting Them by Lynda Wolters
Mascot Books, October 2019, Hardcover (160 pages) and Kindle
ISBN: 1645430391

Voices of Cancer offers a candid look into the world of a cancer patient, informed by Lynda’s own story (as a Mantle Cell Lymphoma patient) and conversations she had with dozens of patients weighing in on their needs, wants, and dislikes as they navigate the complex world of diagnosis, treatment, and beyond. With comprehensive and accessible insight from people who’ve been there, Voices of Cancer helps educate, dispel fears, and start positive conversations about what a cancer diagnosis truly means, while shining a light on how best to support a loved one on their own terms.

Suggested Reading - Hundred Percent Chance

Hundred Percent Chance: A Memoir by Robert K. Brown
3/3 Press 2019, 273 Pages, Paperback or Kindle
ISBN: 9781733159005

Hundred Percent Chance: A Memoir is a raw and realistic memoir about a young college student who was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia in 1990 while he was studying abroad in Lancaster, England – halfway across the world from his home in Seattle.  From battling life-threatening symptoms during a rushed, emergency departure from England, through multiple rounds of chemotherapy and complications over the next eight months, this moving, page-turning story will remind you to make the most of every day.

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Suggested Reading -The Long Road Back to Boston

The Long Road Back to Boston: Running Marathons with Leukemia by Phillip Fields, PhD
Published by BookBaby, July 2019, Paperback, 322 pages (also available as e-book)
ISBN: 9781543958508

What we do when confronted with bad news defines who we are and what we will be from that moment forward.  In 2008, an oncologist told Dr. Fields, "You have leukemia, a five-to-seven year life expectancy, and stop running marathons." What he did next made his diagnosis only life-changing and not life-shattering. Between February 2009 and December 2012, he ran a marathon in every state and DC (51 marathons/47 months). His accomplishment is a testament that a diagnosis is not the end of life; it is only the beginning. Interwoven with his story of running with leukemia are stories of his loves, losses, travel, and embarrassing childhood memories.

Suggested Reading -The Scars, Aligned

The Scars, Aligned (A Cancer Narrative) by Brad Buchanan
Finishing Line Press, 2019, Paperback 93 pages
ISBN: 9781635348514

The Scars, Aligned follows the author's journey through the many phases of a cancer patient’s experience and interweaves lines of famous poetry. He covers feelings of uncertainty, paranoia, diagnosis, acceptance, expectancy, crisis, treatment, and finally recovery. The narrative working through these poems is a powerful and universal one, but the details of an intensely lived physical and emotional ordeal make this book far more than a mere succession of unfortunate events.

Suggested Reading - Sending

Sending - An Athlete Confronting Cancer by Jennifer Erin Pinkus and Dorrance Publishing, 2018
ISBN: 978-0-36-803943-0 Softcover, 178 Pages
ISBN: 978-1-6470-2653-0 Ebook

SENDING is a generic term for successfully completing a vertical rock or ice climb. Jennifer Erin Pinkus approached her struggle against cancer with the determination and emotional strength she used when tackling the most challenging mountain.  When Jen received a diagnosis of lymphoma, she decided to start a daily journal describing her experience with hair loss, “chemo brain,” metallic tastes and insurance coverage. Her talent for using the written word in prose and poetry to describe coping with this horrific illness is raw and honest. It shows Jen’s courage as she faces her fears, the unknown and finally death.

Suggested Reading - How Steve Became Ralph

How Steve Became Ralph: A Cancer/Stem Cell Odyssey (with Jokes) by Steve Buechler
Written Dreams Publishing, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-7335034-2-6 Paperback, 232 pages
ISBN: 978-1-7335034-1-9 Hardcover, 174 pages
ISBN: 978-1-7335034-3-3 Ebook

Upon receiving a diagnosis of acute myeloid leukemia, Steve Buechler began telling his story with an email to his neighbors. Over the ensuing months, he composed over sixty such reports for an ever-expanding group of recipients. With the addition of a preface on lessons learned and an epilogue on identity changes, this compelling account documents and reflects upon his diagnosis, treatment, and recovery, including a detailed account of the stem cell transplant that saved his life.

Suggested Reading - Consider it Pure Joy

Consider It Pure Joy by Jennifer Jones Austin
Published by The Church Online LLC, February 2018, Paperback, 217 pages (also available as e-book)
ISBN: 9781940786612

Author Jennifer Jones Austin - wife, mother, lawyer, child advocate and the picture of good health - finds herself with an acute form of leukemia that requires a bone marrow transplant to increase her chances of survival.  The story recounts how Jennifer, her family and friends, are in a race against time as she fights cancer and searches for a bone marrow donor to cure her and others of the deadly disease. With scripture and bible verses, Jennifer describes how her power of faith, and her power of community, help to transform desperation into joy.

Suggested Reading - Home Before Dark: A Family Portrait of Cancer and Healing

Home Before Dark: A Family Portrait of Cancer and Healing By David Treadway, Kate Treadway, Michael Treadway, Sam Treadway
Union Square Press, 2010, 243 Pages
ISBN-10: 140276071X ISBN-13: 978-1402760716

Moving, heartbreaking, morbidly wry and ultimately uplifting, this book captures the everyday struggles of living with and loving someone fighting for his life when as a successful psychologist, writer, husband, and father of two adult sons - was diagnosed with stage 4, non-Hodgkin lymphoma and given a 25 percent chance of survival. In the blink of an eye, his world shattered. Faced with the news, his family all had to cope with their own, unique challenges. Here, in beautifully crafted alternating chapters, all four family members tell the story of their first year with cancer, avoiding platitudes and easy answers in favor of the raw honesty of a family coping with disease.

Suggested Reading - Perseverance: True Voices of Cancer Survivors

Perseverance: True Voices of Cancer Survivors by Carolyn Rubenstein
Tom Doherty Associates, 2009, 382 pages
ISBN: 978-0-7653-1778-0

Can you imagine being in high school or college and suddenly learning you have cancer? You thought you had a lifetime ahead of you and the whole world at your feet, but suddenly you?re told? maybe not. How would you cope? That?s the question the twenty young people in this book had to answer when they were diagnosed with childhood cancer. Perseverance shares life lessons learned through their stories and educates the reader on how to incorporate them into his/her life. It tells of their trials and tribulations, of their triumphs, and of the unique challenges that day-to-day life brings them. Perseverance also provides an intimate look at the lives and journeys of these young people and how their courage and strength have affected the lives of others.

Author's website:

Suggested Reading - Kitchen Table Wisdom: Stories that Heal

Kitchen Table Wisdom: Stories that Heal By Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D.
Berkeley Publishing Group, 1997, 368 pages
ISBN: 1573226106

From her experience as a physician, a professor of medicine, a therapist and a long-term survivor of chronic illness, Dr. Remen offers an intimate relationship with healing and the life force. Sitting around the table telling stories is not just a way of passing time. It is the way the wisdom gets passed along. Loneliness, the hidden wound of our time, is the price many have paid for overemphasizing the values of independence, self-reliance and competence. Remen's parables are an invitation to see below the surface and remember that we are connected and can become one another's healers.

Suggested Reading - Chicken Soup for the Surviving Soul: 101 Healing Stories About Those Who Have Survived Cancer

Chicken Soup for the Surviving Soul: 101 Healing Stories About Those Who Have Survived Cancer By Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Patty Aubrey, Nancy Mitchell, R.N., Beverly Kirkhart
Health Communications, Inc., 1996, 341 pages
ISBN: 1558744029

More than 100 cancer survivors share their personal stories in this touching new collection of Chicken Soup. These heartwarming accounts of courageous people who found the power to battle cancer in their endless hope, unwavering faith and steadfast determination will inspire you to adopt a positive attitude, discover your faith and cherish every moment. Just what the doctor ordered for healing your body, mind and soul.