The best books that go beyond the diagnosis: how relationships are affected by cancer

Who am I?

Being diagnosed with an incurable cancer and told I may only live 5-years forced me to become an expert in the misconceptions of how to behave and what to say to cancer patients. It’s all bunk! What I know: (1) Don’t tell me “Call if you need anything.” I’m the one who’s sick, you need to call me. (2) Please don’t patronize me; I live in reality, not the land of rainbows, unicorns, and miracles. (3) It’s okay not to know what to say; I’m as blown away as you are. What patients need is honesty, present and available support, and laughter – a lot of it.

I wrote...

Voices of Cancer: What We Really Want, What We Really Need

By Lynda Wolters,

Book cover of Voices of Cancer: What We Really Want, What We Really Need

What is my book about?

Exploring the unsayable thoughts, needs, and desires of people diagnosed with cancer, this book features real-life experiences and what people with cancer endure every day. The Voices of Cancer is a rich and enlightening, deeply moving book that is fraught with information on cancer.

The Voices of Cancer captures the inner worlds of people afflicted by the disease and provides insights that will inspire the right attitude of mind in both cancer patients and those close to them. A fantastic resource for both patients and non-patients, The Voices of Cancer is a book for anyone who wants to know what it is like to live with cancer and how to endure, in spite of the odds.

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The books I picked & why

Henry's Sisters

By Cathy Lamb,

Book cover of Henry's Sisters

Why did I love this book?

Can I please give this book an extra star? I cried, I laughed, and wow, did I smile while reading Henry’s Sisters.

Henry is a special needs person, glue of the family, and the youngest child. The sisters are a famous photographer and professional one-night stander, Isabelle, her angry, food addicted, kindergarten teaching twin, Cecilia, and Janie, an OCD best-selling crime novelist who invents twisted ways to kill her characters. The cast is rounded out by stripper mom, and Amelia Earhart (grandma has dementia).

Rife for disaster with sharp wit and heartache, the family is busy navigating their tortuous past when Henry is diagnosed with terminal cancer. The dialogue shifts leaving the reader begging for Henry to live and applauding his choice to die. This book is how cancer affects a family.

By Cathy Lamb,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Henry's Sisters as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An emergency homecoming forces three sisters to deal with issues they’d rather ignore in this touching novel by the author of All About Evie.

Ever since the Bommarito sisters were little girls, their mother, River, has written them a letter on pink paper when she has something especially important to impart. This time, the message is urgent—River requires open-heart surgery, and Isabelle and her sisters are needed at home to run the family bakery and care for their brother and ailing grandmother.

Isabelle has worked hard to leave Trillium River, Oregon, behind as she travels the globe taking award-winning photographs.…

Book cover of From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding Home

Why did I love this book?

Ms. Locke traverses the myriad of emotions dealing with grief following the loss of her husband to cancer in this non-fiction book. Ms. Locke, a budding actress, takes the reader along with her and her young daughter as she travels back to Sicily, her husband’s birthplace, to spend time with and learn from his family.

From Scratch is about beginnings, life after cancer, life after loss, life all over again. Ms. Locke tells a wonderful story that will captivate the reader while allowing them to feel her pain and anguish. Ms. Locke easily expresses herself as a wife, a mother, and an unaccepted daughter-in-law during her husband’s illness. She is honest and forthright–no one gets a pass. Ms. Locke flawlessly depicts the ravages of cancer. From Scratch is well-worth the read.

By Tembi Locke,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked From Scratch as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Soon to be a limited Netflix series starring Zoe Saldana!

This Reese Witherspoon Book Club Pick and New York Times bestseller is "a captivating story of love lost and found" (Kirkus Reviews) set in the lush Sicilian countryside, where one woman discovers the healing powers of food, family, and unexpected grace in her darkest hours.

It was love at first sight when actress Tembi met professional chef, Saro, on a street in Florence. There was just one problem: Saro's traditional Sicilian family did not approve of his marrying a black American woman. However, the couple, heartbroken but undeterred, forged on.…

In Five Years

By Rebecca Serle,

Book cover of In Five Years

Why did I love this book?

In full disclosure, I don’t normally pick up mid-20-year-old protagonist books; I’m in my 50’s. I don’t normally relate. In this case, however, I related. It was a good book, solid, entertaining and recommendable.

And here’s where it gets weird – not the book, the fact that the author wrote my life, sort of. When the young protagonist finds her friend dying from cancer, she cracks, and the emotions, thoughts, experiences are so relatable; hauntingly so, I felt as if she were a friend of mine going through my cancer story. This book takes a time travel twist, but don’t let it throw you, it’s worth the read.

By Rebecca Serle,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked In Five Years as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


'Full of twists and turns, this is a heart-breaking yet uplifting story about love and friendship, and is one of this year's must-reads' Heat magazine *****

Dannie Kohan has held true to her meticulously crafted 5-year plan since she understood the concept. On the day that she nails the most important interview of her career and gets engaged to the perfect man, she's well on her way to fulfilling her life goals.

But that night Dannie falls asleep and dreams of a night five years in the future where…


By Julie Cantrell,

Book cover of Perennials

Why did I love this book?

What a wonderful, moral-rich, non-preachy, feel-good, tapped several of the big societal issues (adultery, death, divorce, pride, bullying, regret, work vs. family; you get the point), without ever once making me squirm with too many religious overtones, or want to run off to confess my improprieties. As a flower child at heart, I loved the continual nuances of people and growth compared to good soil and water, seasons, and blooms. This book was beautifully done.

When the matriarch of a loving family is diagnosed with cancer and determined to live out her days without treatment, there are twists and turns of reality that make this book a must-read. I too, nearly chose the path of non-treatment and this book resonates.

Well done, Julie Cantrell!

By Julie Cantrell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Perennials as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From New York Times bestselling author Julie Cantrell comes a story of family and the Southern roots that call us home.

"If Julie Cantrell isn't on your reading list, she should be." -Lisa Wingate

Years ago, Lovey chose to leave her family and the South far behind. But now that she's returned, she's realizing things at home were not always what they seemed.

Eva Sutherland-known to all as Lovey-grew up safe and secure in Oxford, Mississippi, surrounded by a rich literary history and her mother's stunning flower gardens. But a shed fire, and the injuries it caused, changed everything. Her…

Book cover of The Fault in Our Stars

Why did I love this book?

A timeless, iconic story of teens Hazel and Augustus, both fighting cancers. The book is a devastatingly real depiction of anyone diagnosed who has yet to fulfill their dreams; especially, youngsters. The tone is raw and honest, hard-hitting, and clever. The reality hits the survivor’s guilt chord head-on when the one who wasn’t supposed to succumb first, does. Anyone who has been diagnosed will know this feeling when they ‘outlive’ one of their co-fighters.

Hazel and Augustus easily show the world by their innocent ideals, how difficult, mature, and brave a person must be to stand by a terminally ill loved one. Read this book, you will not regret it and it will change you. And, your cancer-afflicted friends and family will thank you.

By John Green,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked The Fault in Our Stars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The beloved, #1 global bestseller by John Green, author of The Anthropocene Reviewed and Turtles All the Way Down

"John Green is one of the best writers alive." -E. Lockhart, #1 bestselling author of We Were Liars

"The greatest romance story of this decade." -Entertainment Weekly

#1 New York Times Bestseller * #1 Wall Street Journal Bestseller * #1 USA Today Bestseller * #1 International Bestseller

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters…

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