8 Steps to Getting Real with Cancer is a practical, compassionate step-by-step guide that addresses the critical first weeks of diagnosis and treatment when patients feel powerless and suddenly have to navigate an avalanche of information, decisions, and soul-searing questions. The book is divided into 8 Steps that coincide with those questions, such as:
What do I believe about cancer and myself as a cancer patient?
How shall I interact with others?
How do I work with medical providers and select treatment?
Where is God in all of this?
How do I feel about possibly dying?
What am I afraid of?
How do I deal with the stress?
Do I dare hope for a future?
Using specific examples, McDonough employs an easy-to-read three-fold format: myths versus truths statements, "how to" applications, and survivors attitudes. Additionally, she debunks "easy platitudes" that impose unfair expectations on patients. Although her own story involves breast cancer, the principles apply to any type of cancer.
Breast cancer survivor Marianne McDonough remembers the exact time and date she learned she had invasive ductal carcinoma: "On Monday, March 12, 2012, at 9:00 a.m....my world collapsed into a sinkhole." Now, the journalist provides hope and inspiration for newly-diagnosed cancer patients based on her own experiences.
When first diagnosed, McDonough realized she had to be as authentic as possible about issues such as her relationships with family, friends and medical providers—and even her thoughts about dying. It's what she calls "getting real," a gut-level evaluation of her own belief system she categorized into eight helpful topics for the book. From "getting real with yourself" to "getting real with the treatment process," the author debunks common cancer myths and offers practical applications for patient self-empowerment. Each section is followed by a "survivor attitude" that highlights how she believes God is involved in a patient's life.
In a compassionate, conversational manner, the author begins with typical misconceptions to avoid: Cancer is a death sentence; patients should always follow advice; emotional and spiritual expressions are a sign of weakness. "Getting real" with medical practitioners focuses on an important issue: It's not necessary to be the perfect patient. Patients can empower themselves by planning out questions before medical visits, disagreeing appropriately with medical advice and avoiding total dependence on others.
She also discusses a patient's support system, tossing out the preconceived idea that others don't want to hear about medical issues or don't want to help. And "getting real with God" has particular meaning to McDonough as she focuses on mortality and ways to grow spiritually. She invites patients to find strength in their own spirituality as they prepare for treatment and survivorship.
While the author’s emphasis on Biblical scripture may not be for everyone, many breast cancer patients in the early stages of treatment and those who love them will find McDonough's thoughtful and practical advice a reassuring look at the breast cancer journey.
“In this debut guide to thriving through a cancer diagnosis and the healing process, the author gives intimate, friendly, and firm advice about handling family, medical providers, fear, and decision-making.
Cancer can shock and rattle even the strongest of families, and McDonough is no stranger to the changes that take place immediately after the diagnosis is delivered. In her guide, the author reaches out to readers grappling with their own struggles and offers focus points in the form of myths and truths. Her advice is holistic, presenting strategies of faith and perspective to reconcile what really happens emotionally to the person coping with the diagnosis and what is expected, externally, from friends, family, and medical providers…”—Kirkus Reviews