An oncologist and his cancer-surviving co-author present the stories of 12 cancer patients and analyze each person’s spiritual growth following the diagnosis.
The idea of cancer as the best gift a person could receive is an obviously controversial suggestion. For the most part, the authors do a fine job of clarifying this inflammatory statement by examining how the personal and spiritual growth of the cancer patents profiled here led to enriched relationships, stronger faith and other positive impacts. However, by presenting each patient’s story as a first-person narrative, the authors are hampered by each person’s individual limits as a storyteller. Few of the patients use rich, descriptive language or set a vivid scene, relying instead on clichéd language or pat testimonies regarding their belief in God. A notable exception is a moving account that describes how a man’s relationship with a close friend’s daughter helped him fight cancer and, later, helped the girl’s mother cope with the sudden death of her daughter. A well-researched narrative and perhaps accompanying photographs would help the case studies resonate more deeply. Additionally, the majority of the stories involve those who survived cancer, further implying a positive attitude and strong, Christian faith result in recovery. The analysis following each anecdote takes an increasingly strong, evangelical tone that may alienate those who do not share such beliefs. Such proselytizing distracts from otherwise generally thoughtful discussions and guidance regarding strategies for living in the moment, reducing worry and addressing negative feelings in order to focus on positive ones. Analytical sections also are careful to explain such coping strategies may not cure cancer but may provide comfort and improve quality of life. Footnotes throughout the text often follow vague references to other literature, material generally unnecessary and distracting.
This Christian-themed handbook offers insight and comfort, though falls short of sharing three-dimensional stories.