About This Book


A support group you can hold in your hands, these intimate stories by cancer patients and their loved ones, medical professionals, clergy and friends, are a must-read for anyone affected by cancer. Writers share all their experiences — from the initial diagnosis, to breaking the news to loved ones, to discussing the effect on home, school, and work. Stories also cover securing a medical team, living through an ever-changing self-image, the embarrassment of losing hair, and discovering a new spirituality. A bonus book — a no-holds-barred memoir by cancer patient Elizabeth Bayer — is bound into this volume, after the full-length Chicken Soup for the Soul book.

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Five tips for empowering yourself in the face of cancer
Inspired by Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Cancer Book by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen and David Tabatsky


Cancer makes us think of uncertainty, pain, mortality and weakness. Instead, those diagnosed with cancer and their loved ones need patience, support, understanding and strength. Life after diagnosis can be lived with encouragement and hope. The contributors to Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Cancer Book share 101 inspiring and provocative stories about how cancer affected them and how they reacted. Here are five tips for cancer patients to empower themselves in the face of cancer.

1. Accept that it sucks. Emmarie Truman had a malignant brain tumor. The 16-year-old spent part of the school year undergoing treatments, but also started to embrace other parts of her life. Emmarie tried out for the softball team and made it. She went to school bald instead of hiding her scar under a hat. After receiving a button that said "Cancer Sucks," Emmarie realized that was the best way look at it. "Cancer does suck," she says "and the sooner you accept that, the sooner you can realize that no matter how much it sucks you have to deal with it, and that you might as well deal with it with a smile."

2. Do what's best for you. As a medical researcher, Jonathan Rowe's knowledge of the health science field helped him navigate his treatment for testicular cancer. He also recognized situations where what best was for him was different from the medical norm. For example, he wanted to stay in the hospital overnight after his removal surgery, but the doctors did not think it was necessary. Then, a nurse tried to help him walk before he was ready. Later, doctors wanted to do unneeded outpatient procedures because he had good insurance. He said no. After all of these situations, Jonathan learned to take an active role in the decisions concerning his health. "Under times of great stress, the health care system has a tendency to push toward what is protocol," Jonathan cautions. "In fact, it is during those times that we need most to be treated as individuals."

3. Find additional challenges. After being diagnosed with and surviving two separate cancers as a teenager, Sean Swarner's outlook on tough situations changed. In remission, Sean believed in dedicating his time to living life to the fullest. Things that seemed difficult before cancer now seemed worth the risk of embarrassment or failure. Sean was no longer shy about asking girls out. Even though he only had one lung he took on physical challenges, such as the Hawaii Ironman and climbing Mount Everest. "My experiences have taught me that one way to go through life is to make mistakes, fall flat on my face and fail, only to get back up, dust myself off and continue forward with the knowledge of why I failed," Sean advises.

4. Live your dreams. Dr. Paul Winick had bonded over their shared love of baseball with John, a 12-year-old patient diagnosed with terminal cancer. John shared with Paul his dream of seeing his favorite team — the Dodgers — win the World Series. And that year the Dodgers made it! Paul vowed to do everything in his power to keep John alive to watch the whole Series, and kept that promise during a late-night emergency blood transfusion. John woke the next morning, eager to watch the final game with Paul that night. Despite fatigue, their shared enthusiasm kept John going and they watched the Dodgers win the championship that night. "John fell asleep with a smile on his face, secure in the knowledge that his team had won," Paul remembers. "His dream had been fulfilled."

5. Have a mantra. Donna Reames Rich divides her brain tumor experience into phases. When she had surgery to remove it she was terrified and she experienced painful physical side effects. Her mantra then was that she was alive. After a year of remission, Donna struggled with memory loss and hypochondria. During trying times, she repeatedly told herself that things would get better at her three-year mark after surgery. Donna gradually did get better. Three years after her surgery, she is not her pre-cancer self, but she is well, thanks to her persistent positivity. "I've gone three whole months without thinking about tumors, or cancer, or chemo, or dying," Donna explains. "I am healthy and whole. I am okay, I say to myself, over and over. I am okay."

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