1. Radical Remission
Dr Kelly Turner (and an update by the same author, Radical Hope)
This is my first recommendation when someone reaches out to me wondering what to do for a friend or family member who has just been diagnosed. I received my copy courtesy of the local acupuncture practitioner who gave my shell-shocked husband her copy just a week after my colonoscopy started everything. The author took a data-driven approach to the most common factors employed by people who survived against the odds – things like supplements or social support – with chapters and stories for each.
This is the book that inspired my stars visualizations and the idea that I could love vs fight my way through cancer. The second book includes new stories for the original nine healing factors, plus a tenth: exercise – so it might be a good option for a patient who enjoys working out.
A summary of this book can be found on one of my first Substack posts.
2. Journey of Souls
If Radical Remission was the book that set an initial path for my journey, this is the book that marked its pivot point. My therapist made this recommendation the day I confessed I couldn’t stop thinking about dying. I am still not sure whether I believe its main premise: that as a soul, we choose a specific life knowing what future it holds, so that we may learn and grow in preparation for our next. But thinking about my life through this lens brought me so much comfort – and since I’ll never really know for sure anyway – I decided it’s awfully convenient to believe it.
Read my original blog post about it here >>.
3. Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life
A recommendation from my therapist, I was wary of this title when I realized it had been written by a Catholic priest. But I quickly started to see myself as he described the phenomenon of first and second halves of life – separated most typically by tragedy. “Only suffering is enough to beat the ego,” writes the author; and after reading this book, I started to think more critically about whether I was being motivated by my ego or my soul (and see how often it was the former).
4. Kitchen Table Wisdom: Stories that Heal
Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D.
My mother recommended this one, and the title sounded a little too Chicken Soup for the Soul to me, so I procrastinated and didn’t read it for quite some time. Written by an oncologist-turned-therapist, it is a series of stories that explores, among other things, why the medical profession doesn’t embrace forms of healing beyond the strictly physical. (Hint: it’s ego.) Full of inspiring stories that made me believe anything is possible; too many of which made me say to my husband, “Wait, listen to THIS” and then read it aloud.
This is the book that inspired this blog post >>.