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“Dancing with Breast Cancer: A Memoir in Poems” by Janay Cosner – A Review & Giveaway!

Did you know April is National Poetry Month? Yep. It is. Last year I shared a few poems that you, my dear readers, had written. One year I tackled writing a few of my own and shared this one with you. I always intend trying to write more, but…To mark National Poetry Month this year, I am pleased to introduce you to a book written by a lovely woman who chronicled her breast cancer experience through poetry. Impressive, right?

The book is titled, Dancing with Breast Cancer:  A Memoir in Poems by Janay Cosner. Reborn Phoenix Press, Naples, FL, 2017. 98 pages. The book is divided into four parts:  Diagnosis and Surgery, Chemotherapy, Radiation and The New Normal. Each section contains 18-25 poems about that topic.

I am not gonna lie, when I was first thinking about reviewing this book, I was pretty sure I’d decide, no.


I thought this was going to be another one of those “let’s put a happy face” on breast cancer books because of that word “dancing” in the title, I suppose.

(Remember the doctor who danced before her mastectomy?)

But I was wrong.

Dancing with Breast Cancer is raw, honest and deeply emotional. I very much related to the poems, and I think you will too. Cosner bares her soul, giving the reader a glimpse into the pain, trauma, uncertainty, drudgery, panic and fear (to name a few things) that most breast cancer patients experience.

And that as you, my dear readers, know all too well, is no pink party and sure as heck, no dance.

So why this title? 

Because Cosner is a lover of dance and prided herself on always being first on the dance floor. Following her diagnosis, she became too weak to dance on a dance floor. Cancer was suddenly her new partner, and her new dance became one with words–poetry.

As Cosner shares in the books introduction:

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I was shocked, panicked, angry, depressed and overwhelmed. A pen and paper were a great comfort to me in the middle of the night, at doctors’ appointments and in many stressful situations. Writing about my experiences let me process my emotions and led to insights that helped me surmount difficult obstacles.

Each poem is a snapshot of my experience thus far:  some are pretty, some gritty, some ugly, some humorous, but all are sprinkled with attitude.

This book is for all the women I’ve never met who have or had breast cancer. I cried, unzipped myself and spilled my guts to write this book.

Poetry helped Cosner process her emotions. Boy, do I relate. A pen and a journal helped me process mine.

The best way to give you a glimpse into what Dancing with Breast Cancer is like is, of course, to share some poems from the book. So, I picked a few of my favorites.

Enjoy them, and then be sure to enter my giveaway!



I am going on vacation to the sick world.

No lounge chairs or pink drinks with umbrellas,

no pulsating Caribbean drums, no perfect white beaches,

just gray doctors’ offices full of health magazines and steel chairs.

My days full of biopsies, x-rays, PET scans, thumping MRIs, pink, yellow, green pills.

I bond with patients:

What are you in for?

What stage?

How many treatments to go?

You look great.

No longer the daring bikini-clad blonde,

I am terrified, twirling off balance on tiptoes.

I want to go home.


I’m Not Proud of Myself

I am a tsunami,

kick dents in wastebaskets,

throw a bag of cheese at a truck,

scream at nurses,

cancel my surgery,

fire my chemo doctor.

I want to say I’m sorry.

My anger is misplaced.

Having cancer is like driving a bus without steering,

and my feet can’t reach the brakes.


You’ll Be Fine

What will people tell me today?

My Aunt Bessie, a belly dancer, had breast cancer.

So sorry! Let me tell you about my gall bladder.

Don’t worry! You are still desirable, such a pretty face.

My mom looked forward to chemo. She wanted to lose weight!

Don’t fret about your husband. I’ll take care of him.

What did you do to deserve this?

You don’t look sick.

You did want a break. Now everyone will take care of you.

Have a good attitude.

I have an attitude.


So that’s a sampling.

There are numerous cancer memoirs out there, but cancer poetry books are a rare find.

This one’s a gem.

I highly recommend it.

If you’d like to enter my giveaway for a chance to win a FREE, autographed copy of Dancing with Breast Cancer, leave a comment below by 5 pm CT on Monday, April 30th sharing why you want to read this book, and you’re entered! US mailing address required. The winner will be announced shortly thereafter. More chances to win via Facebook and Instagram. You’ll need to like and follow to be entered.

And the winner is – Lisa! Congrats, Lisa and thank you to all who participated. 

About the author:

Janay Cosner is a fun-loving poet. She is a former English teacher and the author of eight Formula Writing curriculum guides for grades K–12. Even though breast cancer ran in her family, she was shocked and overwhelmed when she was diagnosed. Janay would love to hear your story, and she is available for speaking engagements. Please contact her at


Dancing with Breast Cancer by Janay Cosner, A Review & Giveaway!


Listen to Cosner reading her poem, “Bald,” via YouTube.



Would you like to be entered in this giveaway and if so, why?

Have you written a poem you’d like to share? If yes, feel free to share it.

Click here or on the image below to purchase.


Dancing with Breast Cancer: A memoir in Poems by Janay Cosner, A Review & Giveaway!


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Sunday 18th of April 2021

I would love to enter this contest. I have breast cancer and have so many different feelings in a given day. The way this disease changes women's life is like no other. I've always enjoyed reading and writing poetry, but this time around I'm too afraid to put pen to paper for fear what may come out. Breast Cancer is not pretty. I don't care how pink they try to make it....

Beth L. Gainer

Tuesday 29th of May 2018

Hi Nancy,

The sample of poems are great! As you know, I love poetry. This book sounds wonderful.

Janet Juarez

Thursday 26th of April 2018

Thank you for letting Me enter this giveaway, Janay & Nancy, I always like reading your blog, Nancy, and Now I so appreciate, Janay's Poetry sample. I am like a sponge ready & willing to absorb such great writing. And this writing benefits Me in so many ways. Since I have lost My eldest Son, Stephen, from colon cancer, 9 years ago, at the early age of 28, I have always been willing to help myself through this grief. Then I was diagnosed with Stage 111C Inflammatory bc, 02-05-14. So Now I really need all the help I can get. Thank you both again, I just love you both so much for writing.


Friday 27th of April 2018

Janet, Thank you for you kind words. I'm sorry your son was stolen by cancer, and I'm sorry about your diagnosis. I appreciate your ongoing readership, support and participation in my giveaways. You're entered. Good luck.

Lisa Valentine

Thursday 26th of April 2018

Thank you for bringing Janay Cosner's poetry to our attention. Please enter me in the giveaway. I am always interested in reading genuine and substantial writing from other women who have breast cancer as part of their life experience. (It's the same reason I continue to enjoy your blog Nancy.) Writing was helping me shape my life and my true feelings long before cancer came along, but it certainly helped me through those toughest months of surgeries and treatment too. Thanks Janay and Nancy.


Thursday 26th of April 2018

Lisa, It's so good to hear from you. I know how much you appreciate poetry; you've written some wonderful poems yourself. I feel the same way you do about writing. It's such an important tool through which we can learn from and better understand others and, of course, better understand ourselves. Thank you for participating, Lisa.

Michele Wheeler

Wednesday 25th of April 2018

Hi there. I have breast cancer, and have lately realized I need to change the way I’m navigating it. I have been ignoring my experience, trying to avoid or ignore it. I’m starting to look around me a little more. I think these poems would help me with that.

But Aldo, I’m writing a memoir now, and I think writing a review will help me think critically about prose, what it means and how to allow yourself to fully experience a thing. Even if it’s icky.


Thursday 26th of April 2018

Michele, Poetry can help with just about anything, I'd say. It's terrific you're writing a memoir. It's quite an undertaking, isn't it? Thank you for entering the giveaway. Good luck! And good luck with the memoir writing too.

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