Lessons from Joan -
Living and Loving with Cancer, A Husband's Story
By Eric Kingson
Published by: Syracuse University Press
ISBN: 0-8156-0838-1 US $13.57
Writing in a compassionate style and from personal experience, Eric Kingson recounts his family's thirty-two month journey with colon cancer. "Lessons from Joan" will benefit the patient, family member, friend and caregiver. Coping skills and support strategies are discussed with quality of life and emotional well being integrated into a very beautiful, yet heart-wrenching cancer journey. Interspersed with advice and observations are actual experiences that his family endures. He offers practical and compassionate information and suggestions.
Eric talks about the physical, emotional, and financial struggles of cancer and how those problems affect his family after diagnosis. He provides excellent suggestions on dealing with these pertinent issues and for managing many of the stages of illness, as well as for the pacing of medical information and the importance of second opinions. He clearly endures a wealth of lessons from his wife's illness that deepen and enrich his advice to others.
The Kingson's journey gives meaning to the disease and proves without doubt that there can be quality of life in the midst of cancer. His story is not only enlightening, but tender and loving as well. Joan and Eric began their cancer journey with hope, and after realizing that Joan will not survive, end the journey in the same way. He reinforces that there is always hope and though it is an often changing force, it is indeed a great one. It is evident that his wife and children are his world. Colon cancer robs him of the love of his life. In spite of his tragic loss, he is able to give hope and encouragement through this book.
The appendix of the book is "Tools for Making the System Work for You and Yours" – forty-eight pages of names, addresses, and everything else needed to navigate the health care system. There is great advice on speaking to physicians, managing insurance issues, and suggestions for gaining access to experimental drugs. He even gives details on locating useful information, treatment options and support.
For those living with or touched by a diagnosis of cancer, "Lessons from Joan" will be a comfort and a help. For anyone seeking understanding in the presence of the mystery of disease, this book will be a flowing river of perception. It will provide laughter, thought, tears, and above all hope. I recommend it wholeheartedly.
Suzanne Lindley is a Stage IV colorectal cancer survivor and the Colon Cancer Alliance's Connections Coordinator.