Stories can fulfill a great many human needs, but perhaps their greatest purpose is to bring us comfort during times of uncertainty and loss. October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so we’d like to give particular attention to two fantastic works we’ve reviewed recently that are notable for the care and insight they bring to the topic of battling cancer. The first, Shaken Not Stirred: A Chemo Cocktail by Joules Evans, is one woman’s detailed account of the obstacles that cancer placed in her path – and her journey to overcome them. The second, The Change Agent: From 30,000 Feet by Bruce Barcomb, offers advice for working through grief, life lessons, and personal anecdotes from the author, who lost his mother to cancer in 2012.
Shaken Not Stirred: A Chemo Cocktail by Joules Evans
Fewer sentences can deliver such horror as this one: “You have cancer.” After waking up one morning and feeling a lump on her chest, Joules Evans makes an appointment for a mammogram (at forty-two, it was her first – she strongly advises all women to make them part of your annual routine now!). What follows is Joules’ story of what happens when cancer enters a person’s life – in an instant, everything is turned on its head. As prevalent as cancer is in today’s world, we live our lives believing that it won’t ever happen to us. And then your diagnosis comes, and it just doesn’t make sense. Perhaps you had assumed that you would always be there to provide for your children, but cancer has a way of reminding us how fleeting life can be. In the face of such a terrifying foe, many would be tempted to turn tail and hide, or cower in the closet until the end comes for them. But Joules’ responses was something else entirely: she chose to greet cancer with humor and strength, cracking jokes and keeping her family positive throughout all the surgery and chemotherapy. In the end, Shaken Not Stirred proves that there’s no cure like optimism.
This is a book you’ll want to buy in bulk. Maybe you know someone who is currently battling cancer. Or, maybe you’re facing down the enemy yourself. Shaken Not Stirred shows how a family is affected by cancer, with quotes and thoughts from Joules’ friends and family members. The only way to win is if you have allies fighting alongside you; this isn’t a war you can win alone. Despite the subject material – or, more likely, in spite of – this book is laugh-out-loud funny. Joules talks about her many chemotherapy treatments, and how it’s no coincidence that superheroes also have a tendency to drink radioactive cocktails. Cancer doesn’t change who you are – it only makes you stronger.
To purchase a copy of Shaken Not Stirred, click here to find it on Amazon.
The Change Agent: From 30,000 Feet by Bruce Barcomb
The Change Agent: From 30,000 Feet by Bruce Barcomb is about the journey of self-discovery and actualization that comes from adapting negative thinking to more positive outlooks. With many examples from his own life experiences of loss, such as his sister’s brutal murder and his mom’s death after battling cancer, Barcomb describes helpful methods for dealing with the grief and anger that come from loss and trauma. Peppered throughout with spiritual and historical quotes along with parallels to popular movies, the book remains compelling, relatable, and moving throughout its entirety.
Though at many times somewhat repetitive, large portions of the book are unique accounts of the author’s personal struggles and insights into the ways he was able to overcome and move past them. When a serial killer murdered his sister while he was still a teenager, Barcomb’s life was greatly affected with sadness and nightmares for many years after. The riveting story of events surrounding this horrible tragedy that involves several young women’s deaths leads finally to closure for the families of the victims, and to the author’s ability to move forward in his life. The book also discusses universal life experiences such as the different forms of love, the trials of adolescence, the value of positive thinking, and even the author’s take on the meaning of life. Spirituality is often mentioned, mostly from a Christian perspective, but also encompassing a wide range of religious and spiritual viewpoints. Delving into psychology and the usefulness of group therapy, the book is a well-rounded account of positive change in the human mind and the need to do what one can to constantly be improving their thoughts and their lives.
To purchase a copy of the book, click here to find it on Amazon.