Thursday, September 25, 2014

Book Review: What I Learned from Cancer

Dennis Maione’s What I Learned From Cancer is an engaging, thoughtful, and inspiring book about a topic that usually has next-to-nothing to commend it. Dennis writes from his personal experience, having survived cancer twice already. Dennis was born with Lynch Syndrome (which was news to him), an inherited genetic condition that predisposes him to develop colorectal cancer. As Dennis recounts his story, the reader is quickly drawn into the well-written narrative.

Dennis is a great communicator, and his style of story-telling is evocative and compelling. Whether it is the shock and bewilderment of discovering cancer at an early age, grief as he must inform his children that they also may have the same cancer-friendly gene, or light-hearted humor as he shares stories of dealing with abdominal stitches while at a comedy festival, Dennis has a way of making the reader feel like a part of the story.

What I Learned From Cancer is much more than the autobiographical tale of a cancer survivor. Dennis includes two very important and helpful sections of what his journey with cancer has taught him. The first is entitled (appropriately enough) “What I Learned from Cancer”, as Dennis highlights some key topics that will be extremely helpful to cancer patients, their families, and their friends: About Doctors, About Community, About Advocacy (this is a fascinating part of Dennis’ journey, and is worth the price of admission all by itself), About Dying, and A Tale of Two Doctors: A Message to Health Care Providers.
Yup. Wendy took this one.

The final section of What I Learned From Cancer is “Conversations with a Doctor”, and is a helpful and practical study of how cancer occurs, the impact of genetics, and how to prevent cancer through lifestyle choices. These are extremely helpful chapters, and by utilizing a conversational approach, immensely readable.

Throughout this book, what shines through is a profound sense of gratitude, a deep appreciation for the power of community, the role of faith and humor, and Dennis' desire to equip, educate, and encourage. Written with candor, disarming transparency, and personal warmth, What I Learned from Cancer is a fascinating true story.

Highly recommended. Five stars (out of five).

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