When Someone You Love Has Cancer – book review

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~ When Someone You Love Has Cancer by Cecil Murphy.

I received a review copy of this book last summer and mentioned the fact in a previous post.  Today I offer a review in lieu of our Book Club which will resume in January.  When Someone You Love Has Cancer is unique is several ways.  First it is oriented not towards the cancer patient but, as the subtitle indicates, towards the Comfort and Encouragement for Caregivers and Loved Ones.  Secondly its format makes the book stand out.  It measures only six and a quarter inches square and features a hardcover laminated, illustrated cover, reminding one more of a young child’s first book.

Above the ISNB number on the back cover are the words “Gift Book”.  Indeed that is how both the physical format and the content have been designed.  This is appropriate.  When I was diagnosed, I received books, stuffed animals, food, and vitamin supplements from friends – small tokens of concern and well-wishing.  Now there is something to give your friend whose world has been stricken by another’s cancer.  The 64 page booklet, broken up by numerous illustrations, quotes, and prayers, is probably about what a person’s time and energy can tackle in a time of crisis.

Cecil Murphy has a background as a minister before becoming a professional writer.  So he had both professional as well as personal experience’s with cancer.  The book is composed of ten “chapters”.  Each section begins with a dialogue between a cancer victim and a friend.  The dialogues ring true and are followed by a short prayer.  The main idea of the chapter is reinforced by script in the corner of the page.  Chapters include Talking About it, “I Just Need a Little Reassurance”, What Can I Do?, and Anxious and Apprehensive. A short appendix is entitled Practical Things You Can Do to Help Those Diagnosed with Cancer.

The advice is usually simple, direct and easy to grasp without belaboring the points.  It is also advice that seems psychologically and therapeutically sound based on my own seventeen years experience working with cancer patients.  One final point is both a strength and a weakness of the book.  The booklet has a strong spiritual, and specifically Christian focus.  Not everyone has this strong a spiritual orientation, although it is probably true that many become more spiritual after diagnosis.  But its reliance on quotations from the Old and New Testaments might tend to exclude those from other religious traditions.

Most of you reading this have gone through the classic stages of dealing with a cancer diagnosis.  Most are grateful for the support and help you received during those first days.  Now you have a small way of giving back the next time you hear of someone with a new cancer diagnosis.

Order from Amazon: When Someone You Love Has Cancer: Comfort and Encouragement for Caregivers and Loved Ones

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About Dennis Pyritz

Dennis W. Pyritz, RN, BA, BSN, has been a cancer nurse since 1987 and a cancer and bone marrow transplant survivor since 2004. In December 2001 he was diagnosed with t-cell prolymphocytic leukemia (T-PLL), a rare aggressive form of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Dennis was treated with the then new monoclonal antibody, alemtuzumab (Campath) as this disease has a median survival of 7.5 months. He achieved a 26 month remission but relapsed in February 2004. He was retreated with Campath and went into a second remission. In August 2004 he underwent an allogeneic peripheral blood stem cell transplant with his brother, Mark, as donor. Dennis has remained in remission since - a near miracle. Throughout his career as cancer nurse and patient, Dennis has had the opportunity to speal to both lay and professional groups. Dennis has spoken on cancer topics and survival issues across the country as well as in the United Kingdom, Norway, Austria, Portugal, Honduras, Panama, Guatemala, Trinidad, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Cyrpus, Israel, and India.

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