4 out of 4 stars
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“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.” -- Khalil Gibran
Cancer Was Not a Gift & It Didn’t Make Me a Better Person by Nancy Stordahl is a “cancer memoir” that tackles two parallel lines going in alternating chapters. The first axis touches on the author’s mother suffering from metastatic breast cancer, her journey of diagnosis and treatment, and the frailty she suffered from near the end.
The other axis deals with the author herself being diagnosed with hereditary breast cancer. Stordahl does a stellar job in portraying the emotional turmoil and the realistic fears of having to get subjected to chemotherapy, as well as the psychological and the physical changes that accompany the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.
How does cancer affect the family? Is it just a pebble in the road, or a game-changer? What does it mean for a woman to lose her breasts? Answers to these questions and much more are to be come upon after reading the book.
With a straightforward, clear, and candid writing style, the author depicts the details of her journey with this malicious disease. Striking is the honesty of her recollection and the lack of sugarcoating of facts. “When you are recovering from surgery, you no longer take for granted the simple bodily functions such as rising out of bed, putting one foot in front of the other, brushing your hair or teeth, emptying your bladder or even breathing. Such simple motions you normally do every day with little notice or appreciation now suddenly feel like the most valuable skills in the world.”
I particularly loved the author’s sincere relationship with her mother and how intricately woven her mother was in her life. I also appreciated the messages of survivorship and hope that shone amidst the pain and raw emotions. I honestly cannot think of anything I disliked about this book.
An individual or a family dealing with cancer will surely appreciate this memoir. It would also appeal to people looking for practical ways to deal with the emotional havoc that accompanies the diagnosis of cancer, and the journey of surgery and chemotherapy. Moreover, caregivers are bound to find in it a connecting point to relate to their loved ones. Furthermore, I recommend this book to readers seeking an authentic and heartfelt account of how to deal with grief and loss. The editing is pristine, which rendered reading it such an indulgence. Considering all the aforementioned, it pleases me to rate Cancer Was Not a Gift & It Didn’t Make Me a Better Person by Nancy Stordahl 4 out of 4 stars.
On a final note, Stordahl’s words brought tears to my eyes on more than one instance and illuminated several previously unlit chambers in my heart and mind, “It’s often the simple things you miss the most about your loved ones when they are gone. It doesn’t even have to be something tangible. It might be their scent. It might be a particular mannerism. It might be a certain expression. It might be their laugh. It might be the way their presence filled up a room. Or it might be the way they said goodbye.”
Cancer Was Not a Gift & It Didn't Make Me a Better Person
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