Book Review Time

I know I already mentioned this book in my last post, but now that I'm done with the book I realize it needs it's own post. If you have a loved one fighting cancer, or if you feel touched by Keri's story you need to read this book. It's incredibly inspirational and it puts life into perspective, even for those of us without a breast cancer diagnosis. It's difficult to read about the reality of cancer but the positive influence of this book outweighs the negative.
Here are the four women who wrote the book. Like I said before they are so full of personality and their stories are so powerful, you'll feel like you know each girl first-hand. They are a regular Sex and the City group of friends!
Jana was a RN diagnosed with stage II breast cancer when she was engaged to be married at 27 years old. She went through a mastectomy and chemo all before her wedding. Just 1.5 years later her cancer returned and spread to her bones. She underwent more treatment and although the book doesn't tell us this, the website does: she passed away in December 2006 at the age of 35. Her positive outlook on life is astounding and inspirational and her motto was, "Life is Good."

Patti is the 'Carrie from SATC' of the book. She was diagnosed at age 24 with stage I cancer and fought it with aggressive treatment just like Jana. Two years later her cancer returned and she passed away at the age of 29 in March 2003. The other three girls devoted an entire chapter to Patti's death, as it happened before the book was completed. Let's just say that I was shedding some MAJOR tears while reading this part. Patti was one of the funniest of the girls and her nickname was 'Tigger' because she literally bounced through life.

Kim was diagnosed at age 30 with stage I breast cancer. She found her lump because Patti was her sorority sister and Kim began monthly BSEs because of Patti's story. She had a young son at the time of her diagnosis which made her recovery a little more challenging. She is the most 'open' about the details of her experience and I love her sense of humor.

Jen was 27 years old and pregnant with her first child when she found her lump. She underwent chemo and a mastectomy during her pregnancy and her baby was completely unaffected by the treatments. She went on to have another baby even when the doctors weren't sure if she'd ever ovulate again----which goes to prove that fertility after cancer CAN happen!

I know these stories are a bit heavy at times but some of the quotes from the book really hit home. I thought I'd share a few of my favorites from the book along with some fabulous breast cancer attire. I think Keri needs a few of these shirts and I should probably get one to wear during our marathon, right? :)

1. The girls' breast surgeon wrote a foreword in the book. Here is the best quote I've heard in a long time:

"Sharing in the journeys of my breast cancer patients has taught me many priceless lessons. Among these, two lessons stand out. I have learned that a diagnosis of breast cancer will not define you. How you handle the diagnosis will define your character. Also, breast cancer is not meant to change your life. It will merely amplify the life you already have."



2. All four of the girls wrote this section after reflecting on Patti's death:

" After losing a dear friend and coauthor, we vowed to remember Patti's greatest lesson: 'Live life to the fullest and receive each day as a gift.' As a result of breast cancer, every one of us--Jana, Jen, and Kim--chose to live each day in gratitude; we chose to enjoy sunsets more often, to eat desserts first, or simply to say 'I love you' more often."
3. Jen wrote in the chapter called "Life Is Still Good!":

"One of my favorite quotes is 'That man is a success who has lived well, laughed often, and loved much' by Robert Louis Stevenson. After I was diagnosed, I purchased a sign with this quote. It reminds me to take care of myself, to love as deeply as I can, and to enjoy every moment. Cancer also taught me to let loose a little. I was a person who believed the motto 'Save your pennies for a rainy day.' Now I take more chances-we began to travel more."

[I think I'm going to take this one to heart and lighten up a little! Let loose of the purse strings just a bit and enjoy life more.]


[I think this should be my marathon shirt, don't you?]

4. Kim wrote in the same chapter:

"Prior to breast cancer, I was running the rat race, trying to be a super-mom, super-employee, super-aunt--trying to be just plain super. Looking back, I realize I wasn't having much fun. I was so focused on my Palm Pilot that I forgot to enjoy life. Now I try to enjoy every minute. It's about making choices. Who cares if the house is a little dusty?

Before cancer, I had my life planned out--my five-year plan; my ten-year plan; my retirement plan. I had my entire life planned. Breast cancer taught me that, as John Lennon said, 'Life is what happens while we're making other plans.' We're not always in control."

[Wow. This hits home, too. As a mega-planner maybe I need to just relax and enjoy the moment NOW. Stop worrying about the next 5-10 years and just be. What a precious message.]
5. Then there is this fabulous poem at the end of the book. It's pretty long so I left out a few parts, but it's definitely frame-worthy. As in, should be hung on a wall somewhere.

"Today, I'm going to celebrate what an unbelievable life I have had so far: the accomplishments, the many blessings, and yes, even the hardships because they have served to make me stronger.

Today, I'll give a sincere compliment to someone who seems down. I'll tell a child how special he is, and I'll tell someone I love just how deeply I care for them and how much they mean to me.

Today is the day I quit worrying about what I don't have and start being grateful for all the wonderful things God has already given me. " --Gregory Lousignont

[Yep, this is it. This is what I needed to read. Who cares if we don't have some of the material things in this world that we want. We have been blessed and I need to remember that more often.]
So that is my book review. I realize it's ridiculously long and I apologize for that. I hope you made it through and feel just a little bit inspired by this book's message.
Today is Keri's second round of chemo. Let's all keep her in our prayers and realize that life is a gift that should be cherished. And with that, enjoy your weekend!!

8 comments:

  1. Julia, thanks for sharing. I think many women will benefit from reading this book, so I'm looking forward to it & getting my kleenex ready. I just put the book on reserve at the library (yes, I'm a library nerd!) #4 definitely hit home for me as well. I spend so much time fretting about what I'm going to be doing in 2-5 years, I should just enjoy this time.

    Wishing Keri well!!!

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  2. Ummm...shouldn't you be working?!

    J/K!! ;)

    Sooo...I'm totally tearing up. Second time this morning I'm crying from a blog post. (Lauren's was the first one) Those quotes really hit home...too close for comfort, ya know? Today will be my first venture over to the library, and guess what book I'll be looking for... ;)

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  3. Thank you so much for sharing your review of this book. I'm definitely going to go out and get it. A co-worker of mine also died from a reoccurence of BC (in her bones), so that story really hit me. And I totally think that you should get "My Best Friend's Gonna Kick Ass" on a t-shirt. I love it!!!

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  5. What a powerful read. Thank you for sharing.

    And, FWIW, my MIL had Hodgkins and went through chemo, radiation, the whole bit.

    RIGHT after, she became pregnant with her 4th and final child (Josh's youngest sister) who she affectionately calls "her miracle baby". It is possible.

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  6. Thanks for the book review. It is on my "to read" list! YAY!

    Also, I adore the "Hope for Hooters" shirt. Too cute. I could imagine Keri rocking that one.

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  7. This sounds like a wonderful book. I don't think I'm ready to read it now, but maybe someday.

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  8. J-

    Love the shirts. You definitely need the "my best friends going to kick ass!" I'll even buy it for you! I know in time I will read this book but just not sure if I can yet since 2 of the girls cancer returned...but I love the quotes and the reality to live life! That's what I am doing! Taking advantage of every great day!

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