In this debut guide to thriving through a cancer diagnosis and the healing process, the author gives intimate, friendly, and firm advice about handling family, medical providers, fear, and decision-making.
Cancer can shock and rattle even the strongest of families, and McDonough is no stranger to the changes that take place immediately after the diagnosis is delivered. In her guide, the author reaches out to readers grappling with their own struggles and offers focus points in the form of myths and truths. Her advice is holistic, presenting strategies of faith and perspective to reconcile what really happens emotionally to the person coping with the diagnosis and what is expected, externally, from friends, family, and medical providers. For example, in one section, McDonough describes firing an oncologist to choose a different doctor she felt was a better fit. The “myth,” she asserts, that a cancer sufferer should be a “good patient” who cooperates and pleases all of the nurses and doctors is simply not the first priority of the individual undergoing treatment, regardless of what society seems to expect. As she puts it, “Perfect patient? No way, nor did I aspire to be that. Perfect doctors? Just as unrealistic and, I might add, unfair.” While McDonough stresses that no one is perfect in this process, she describes one doctor who came in on a weekend day off to sit with her and explain her diagnosis more fully to ease anxieties. Another point of emphasis is patient autonomy. The author cites the importance of patients involving and informing family members yet making clear their intentions to control decisions about their own health. This, she explains, is one of the most important things for the patient to preserve. One aspect that likely sets this book apart from other similar guides in the genre is McDonough’s experience of catching cancer early. This title may carry the advantage of reaching those readers who were fortunate enough to receive an early diagnosis but still endured the fears and unknowns of procedures like lumpectomies and radiation. But the author presents all cancer patients with an important message: you are a warrior and survivor, regardless of how early you were diagnosed or the duration and complexity of your treatment.
A personal, conversational, and positive perspective on handling the ups and downs of cancer treatment and survival.