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“Cancer Was Not a Gift & It Didn’t Make Me a Better Person: A memoir about cancer as I know it”

Cancer Was Not a Gift & It Didn't Make Me a Better Person


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Are you weary of stories portraying cancer as merely a bump in the road, an experience to be grateful for or a chance for personal enlightenment? With raw candor, Nancy Stordahl shares about her breast cancer experience while intertwining memories about what it was like to be a caregiver for her mother who died from metastatic breast cancer. Originating from personal, unrestrained journal entries, this strikingly frank memoir gives readers a glimpse into cancer’s messy realities including the multitude of emotions that arise when a family is catapulted into the world of cancer chaos. This is truth-telling from a not-so-pretty-in-pink perspective, resulting in an honest, realistic portrait of family, cancer and loss that will encourage others facing similar trials to ditch the societal expectations and instead do things their own way.

If you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, or if your loved one has, reading my memoir will help you feel less alone. If you believe everything does not happen for a reason and that no one should feel pressured to “smile her/his way through cancer,” then this is a book you will want to read and share.

Your purchase supports mbc advocacy! 10% of profits will be donated to research and/or to support those living with this disease.

Reviews & mentions!

Review by Alene Nitzky, Ph.D. RN. OCN. Founder of Sunspirit Wellness Services, LLC & Cancer Harbors™

Stordahl’s book should be required reading for health care providers, the ones who maintain a privileged distance from their patients’ lives that are impacted by this disease, those without firsthand experience, who are really only a stroke of fate away from being sucked into the cancer vortex themselves.

Review by Elizabeth MacKenzie, licensed psychologist, via My Eyes Are Up Here.

Nancy has a way of explaining things in a very organized, straight-forward manner without a lot of flowery touches… she also conveys a reassuring level of support and empathy. Nancy’s writing is an excellent example of the dance we all try to do in our experience of loss.

Interviewed and featured on The Anti-Cancer Club. 

Reviewed by Kathi Kolb, licensed physical therapist and fellow blogger at The Accidental Amazon. 

If you’ve ever loved someone with breast cancer, cared for someone with breast cancer, faced the implications of BRCA gene mutations, or had breast cancer yourself, you will find something that resonates with your own experience… Read it, and you will find a friend in the storm.

Reviewed by Dee Sparacio, ovarian cancer survivor, blogger (@ Women of Teal) and respected advocate.

Why would I, an ovarian cancer survivor, want to read a book about breast cancer? What I’ve found over the past ten years is that regardless of the type of cancer, the lives of a person diagnosed with cancer, or who had a loved one diagnosed with cancer, have many things in common… She speaks about her role as caregiver and as patient.  She describes the waiting rooms with “answers to cancer in tidy 4 x 8  pamphlets ” and  how patients are asked to be “more adaptable than machines”. She describes the actions of the doctors and nurses who get it right. And points out the ones who don’t… Her book is not gloomy, rather it is frank. It is a story of a life… I couldn’t put the book down.

Reviewed by Beth Gainer, author and blogger @ Beth L. Gainer – Calling the Shots

The memoir’s narrative prose is so extraordinary, that I could not stop reading this book. The memoir is not the typical breast cancer feel-good-book; instead it is a poignant account of the tragedy that is breast cancer. Stordahl is a refreshing agent for change in breast cancer culture…I highly recommend this memoir.

Reviewed by Claudia Schmidt, blogger @ My Left Breast

Even the title of the memoir is so Nancy, so honest and true, with a healthy dose of raw anger at the whole breast cancer experience. There are a lot of feel-good books about breast cancer out there, but this one will ring true for many in the world of breast cancer who did not find the experience of breast cancer to be rewarding or life affirming…The book is beautifully written and reads like a novel. Once I picked it up, I couldn’t put it down until I finished it.

Reviewed by Gayle Sulik and featured in Breast Cancer Consortium Quarterly

Nancy Stordahl covers a lot of ground in this book, sharing intimate details about her thought processes, medical decisions, personal interactions, and emotional states as she manages the “shit storm” of cancer diagnosis and treatment, all in the aftermath of her mother’s. At times funny and ironic, it’s still not the happy cancer story. But it’s real. And it’s needed.

Reviewed by Ann Silberman, blogger @ Breast Cancer? But Doctor…I Hate Pink!

Cancer causes heartbreak, and pain. This book illustrates these emotions with unflinching honesty. Not that it is all depressing, but the point is that one does not have to pretend to be happy in the face of misery.  Nancy expresses what most of us feel and which society dismisses…The book is well-written, clear and uncompromising.  Her practical style shows through, as does her thoughtfulness…Whether you have cancer, your relative does, or you just want to read about this disease, this book is of interest.  You will learn that we are human, we do not have to love our cancer experiences despite what society says, and that is a message that is worth internalizing.

Reviewed by Teresa Kindred, blogger @ Nanahood, The Second Half of the Motherhood Journey

Nancy’s journey through her mother’s death and then her own diagnosis, surgeries and treatment is a detailed, truthful picture of living with cancer one day at a time. She is completely honest about the ugliness of cancer.

Reviewed by Susan Jobs @ METAvivor

Cancer is scary, and for good reason.  A diagnosis knocks you off your feet, out of your job, sometimes out of life. It is messy, painful, and downright uncomfortable. The treatment is difficult and often leaves lingering side effects. What Stordahl does is speak of the disease with unstinting and refreshing honesty. The book gives you permission to be angry, hurt, sad, all the non-positive emotions often discouraged when someone is diagnosed with breast cancer.