In her corollary book to the previously released 8 Steps to Getting Real with Cancer, cancer survivor Marianne C. McDonough again focuses on the myths and fears associated with cancer diagnosis and treatment and how to overcome them. Using her own experience and those of other survivors, McDonough urges newly diagnosed patients to reject the cultural myths related to the disease and create new mindsets and positive choices—from gaining a better understanding of the initial diagnosis to treatment strategies and planning a post-treatment future.
The author highlights the range of misunderstandings related to cancer, including the assumption that cancer is too difficult and complicated for a layperson to understand and the idea that a cancer diagnosis is usually a death sentence. The author then focuses on readers’ abilities to empower themselves by debunking these and other myths and to recognize their own truths along their cancer journey.
To help accomplish this goal, the book also serves as a self-reflection journal. After each myth, readers are offered space to articulate new thinking and affirmative choices. Statements such as “What did I do to deserve cancer?” or “I’m better off keeping my thoughts to myself and do what I’m told” are jumping off points for readers to confront detrimental beliefs. While the book prompts readers to consider the qualities they would like in a doctor, and other practical medical issues, it is not meant to be a clinical guide to cancer diagnosis and treatment.
Because this is a journal, of sorts, some might wish for more white space to write in their answers to each prompt; the writing space is very limited. The book also offers a section on faith and mortality that’s not based on a specific religion, but may be unwelcome for some readers.
Nonetheless, McDonough’s compassionate and thoughtful focus on how patients can positively reflect on their cancer journey may serve as a helpful, empowering guide for many individuals.