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September 18 , 2015

Welcome to the Cancer Club: Surviving... one laugh at a time

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Overview

Lucky you! Somebody you know has cancer, and you get to care for them. Think of all the glory you’ll get from doing the driving, household chores, calls to insurance companies, runs to the pharmacy, extra laundry loads – maybe even with bodily fluid stains, and that’s just the first month!
Maybe you’re the one with cancer. No worries (other than the whole cancer thing), you can read this book too. Make notes in the margins and hand it over to whoever you want to take care of you. Wait, on second thought, make them buy their own copy. I’ve got bills to pay too, OK? But from here on out, we’ll pretend I’m talking to that caregiver.
All kidding aside – don’t worry; there will be plenty of kidding in this book – cancer sucks, and not just for the person with the disease. It sucks for those who are helping that person get through it.
While there are lots of books out there that tell the triumphant stories of celebrities who overcome the disease and become champion athletes (see Lance Armstrong) or who return to their careers as chart-topping recording artists (see Sheryl Crow, and see Lance Armstrong disappear), and those whose battles inspire others to unite (see Susan G. Komen), I’ve never read a book that talks about cancer from the perspective of the caregiver, let alone a how-to guide. Then again, I don’t read much, but my wife does, and she’s never read a book like that either. So I guess that’s proof.
We toss around words like Hero and Warrior a little too easily these days, and unless you’re a Navy Seal hunting 7 foot Saudis in Pakistan, the labels probably don’t apply. But in your case, they do. You do your job anonymously but compassionately, humbly but lovingly, quietly but devotedly. Somebody should thank you.
Don’t look at me. It wasn’t my hair you held back while I dry heaved or scraped from the shower floor after it fell out. It wasn’t my soup you reheated four times over the two hours it took me to choke it down, and it wasn’t my daily radiation treatments you drove to for 3 weeks straight. Nope, thanking you isn’t my job.
Making you laugh? Well, that’s another story…

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This year there will be more than 1,660,290 new cancer cases in the U.S. Behind that sad statistic are many stories with both similarities and variations. Cancer’s shadow looms large, even for survivors. Fears often linger. Will the cancer come back? Will I experience limitations and side effects for the rest of my life? Are my loved ones…

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