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3 out of 4 stars
Review by CataclysmicKnight
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Shannon was a medical assistant for years and always made sure she was in great shape, so it came as a huge surprise in September of 2013 that she was diagnosed with stage two cervical cancer. After a full hysterectomy the cancer seems to be behaving oddly and it's discovered she now has stage four lung cancer and stomach cancer! When local doctors just cant seem to get things right she ends up at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Finally receiving the treatment she deserves by kind, attentive doctors things start seeming better, but cancer is a roller coaster and "better" rarely lasts long.
Shannon's Story: An Angel's Journey Through Cancer is a very touching story. It's told through a combination of standard narrative and entries from a Giveforward account (a fundraising site that was set up to raise funds for Shannon's cancer treatments). These two go perfectly hand in hand - the Giveforward entries are dated and were posted regularly when there was more information to give, so they're like following along in real time. Some of the entries are even written by Shannon herself, giving the reader a glimpse at her thoughts. The writing by Nicole is great as well, it's clear she was very close to her sister and her parts let us see the emotional toll cancer takes on loved ones. There are also some great photos included throughout the book, from childhood to cancer warrior.
The book really conveys the roller coaster of emotions that cancer causes as well. There are several high moments, some so incredibly full of hope and joy that the cancer seems almost gone, and then others that are so terribly low like discovering that the cancer wasn't gone and had spread even further. I'd seen so many stories show a downward spiral with maybe one good bounce back from the first chemo treatment or right before they die, but Shannon's story is a rollercoaster that would be right at home at Six Flags or any other amusement park!
I absolutely loved how genuine Shannon's story was, but there were a couple things that could have been improved. The book starts off in December of 2013 (a few months after Shannon is initially diagnosed with cancer), then jumps back to explore her childhood, her pre-cancer life and so on. I really would have preferred if it just started with Shannon's childhood, although it certainly isn't a big issue. Also, there are a few grammatical errors and odd punctuation choices, especially toward the beginning of the book. They were never enough to take away from my enjoyment of the book, but they did make me stumble at times.
Shannon's Story: An Angel's Journey Through Cancer is a fantastic memorial that uses numerous different methods to tell Shannon's story, and especially with the inclusion of a few resources at the end it's something I absolutely recommend to those who have a loved one with cancer. It's also a book that anyone suffering from cancer or who has battled cancer (either themselves or alongside a loved one) should give a read. I'm happy to officially rate it 3 out of 4 stars.
Shannon's Story: An Angel's Journey Through Cancer
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