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Everything Changes - The Insider's Guide to Cancer in your 20s and 30s

Posted Mar 27 2009 10:55am

As a young patient you can feel like your experience of cancer and what comes after it is different or wrong. It has been my exceptional good fortune to get to know Kairol Rosenthal through blogging and I jumped at the chance to read her book, Everything Changes. You should too. If you know anyone with cancer under 40 you must get this book for them. I only wish it had come out a couple of years ago so I could have skipped all that therapy. Kairol covered the country interviewing young adults (ages 20-39 when diagnosed) and just having conversations with them. Not one is alike and they all have important things to tell us.

Everything Changes: The Insider's Guide to Cancer in your 20s and 30s covers all of the things about cancer you don't want to talk about when you're young and sick; money, God, dating, self advocacy, sex and more. Each chapter is the result of Rosenthal's interviews of young people who have or have had cancer. I've never met the people in this book but I know them.

People like survivor Jill Woods who sums up why some of us don't do the walkathons:
"With all the races, rallies and walks people assume you want to be celebrated for having cancer. No! The last thing I want is people cheering me on because I had a disease that I didn't want, was miserable getting through and wish I never had. That should not be my moment of fame"
Or Geoff, a survivor of angiosarcoma who was told he had six months to live thirteen years ago:
"Maybe the cure needs to suffer a bit so we can address the cause. There was so much rage over three thousand people dying on September 11, which was a great tragedy, don't get me wrong. But seventy thousand young people a year get diagnosed with cancer. Where's the outcry? Where's the "We are gonna get whatever's doing this"?"
Each chapter is full of resources for different situations. From fertility to coming out, financial resources to end of life issues it's all covered, honestly and frankly.

For me the most important thing I read was from Tracy, a breast cancer survivor:
"Some people think that after an experience like cancer if you are not smiling and doing cartwheels every day, then you're just sitting around and feeling sorry for yourself. I am grateful to be alive, but I have good days and bad days just like I did before cancer. I came home to my house, which has pink ribbon symbols everywhere, and it just made me feel like I was in a sisterhood or a sorority that I didn't ask to be in, and I feel like I don't belong because I don't act like I'm supposed to."
I couldn't have said it better myself, no matter how many times I've tried.

Read this book for yourself and then, pass it on to your partner or your parents. Help them understand what's going on and why this is different than when your grandfather had cancer. Then buy a copy for your minister, library and oncologist. As we are learning that cancer is more than one disease maybe we need to understand that the response to it is more than one thing as well. Everything Changes helps us understand.

You can download the first chapter at Kairol's blog. You can buy the book through my Amazon link in the sidebar. The book is also available at Borders, Powells, Barnes & Noble.

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