“Help Me Live – 20 Things People with Cancer Want You to Know,” A Book Review & Giveaway!

Since my cancer diagnosis, I have read countless articles and lists covering things one should say or not say to someone with cancer. There is also plenty of advice out there addressing what you should or should not do.

Some of these things I agree with and some I do not.

What ever happened to good old common sense?

It’s not like those of us who have or had cancer want everyone else tip-toeing around being afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing. We really aren’t all that sensitive. We are still the same people we were before cancer came calling.

But then again…

I’ve also read articles and lists written by people who have or had cancer recounting some of the thoughtless, insensitive and even cruel remarks that have been directed at them. I have heard a couple of gems myself, but that’s another post.

Sometimes it does make one wonder…

Most people want to offer comfort and support to those they care about who’ve been punched touched by cancer. Most people want to say and do something meaningful and helpful.

It’s also true that many people do feel at least a little uncomfortable (understandably so) figuring out that balance between saying/asking enough and saying/asking too much. Sometimes it is hard to know what to do or what not do.

Often this uncertainty results in avoiding the person with cancer altogether and that’s a shame.

Most people could use a little friendly advice. Help Me Live: 20 things people with cancer want you to know by Lori Hope is just that, a little friendly advice. In fact, I would say it’s a must read.

Help Me Live is the perfect resource for those who are feeling unsure of what to say or do. Lori shares personal stories of her own, as well as stories from others, that illustrate some common faux pas. She also shares heartwarming stories exemplifying tender acts of love, caring and compassion. She does both with a blend of honesty, wit and plenty of humor.

Lori was diagnosed herself with lung cancer in 2002. She understands what receiving a cancer diagnosis feels like and had this to say about her own diagnosis in chapter 13, “I Am Still Me; Treat Me Kindly, Not Differently.”

“When I heard, ‘You have cancer,’ everything changed in a heartbeat…I could no longer think of myself as a writer, producer, consultant, mother or wife. Lori Hope, Cancer Gal:  that was me…I could no longer look in the mirror and even imagine the woman I had been before. But even though I could neither see nor be the old me, I did not want to be treated differently.”

When her initial treatment ended, Lori took on the mission of interviewing survivors of diverse ages, backgrounds and diagnoses. She also interviewed experts in psychology, social work and communication, as well as those in the field of conventional medicine. She developed a survey for survivors asking them what they most wanted others to know. The results of that survey ultimately became the first edition of Help Me Live in 2005.

Help Me Live – 20 things people with cancer want you to know is an updated compilation of those survey results (I took the survey myself) together with information garnered from interviews of people living with cancer, medical professionals, care givers and many others as well. Numerous personal stories are woven throughout Lori’s book reminding us that cancer is indeed a very personally unique experience for each patient deeply impacting the life of not only the cancer patient, but also the lives of all who care about them.

Part I of Help Me Live is divided into twenty-one chapters, each one addressing one of the topics taken directly from the survivor survey. Not surprisingly, one of my favorites is chapter 8, “I Need to Feel Hope, But Telling Me to Think Positively Can Make Me Feel Worse.”

Amen to that!

Two more of my favorites are chapter 1, “It’s Okay to Say or Do the ‘Wrong’ Thing” and chapter 17, “I Don’t Know Why I Got Cancer, and Hearing Your Theory May Add Grave Insult to Injury.”

Part II is called, “A Quick Guide to Cancerquette.” It contains most of the survivor survey, excerpts from other books and articles, opinions and advice from various individuals and organizations and more. I particularly like chapter 31, “How to Listen.” Part II ends with a chapter for survivors on coping and keeping hope alive while living with cancer’s uncertainty.

Help Me Live is for anyone who has been touched by cancer and unfortunately, that is most of us. Help Me Live will help anyone communicate more lovingly and effectively about cancer related issues. It will give the reader a better understanding of what a person with cancer is going through and help them to respond or reach out more compassionately to that person.

Help Me Live is for any survivor of cancer as well because it validates the individuality of each person’s cancer experience, and with validation comes empowerment.

Perhaps the most important message of all the reader can take from Help Me Live is this – just be there and never underestimate the power of love, compassion, forgiveness and of course, hope.

That’s a pretty good message for all of us don’t you think?

If you would like to win a free copy of Help Me Live – 20 things people with cancer want you to know, simply leave a comment below by Tuesday, June 12. To double your chances, leave a comment on my Facebook page as well.The winner will be announced shortly there after.

Remember you can win the book for yourself or win it to give away, so be sure to enter my giveaway! 

About the author:

Lori Hope is a journalist, Emmy-winning documentary filmmaker and motivational speaker. She works tirelessly as an advocate for all who are facing the challenges of living with cancer of any kind. She has served on the board of the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation, has volunteered her time for The Lung Cancer Alliance and the National Lung Cancer Partnership and has spoken numerous times before the American Cancer Society, as well as many other groups. Lori has also appeared on the Today Show.

Unfortunately, Lori’s lung cancer recurred in 2011  and she was recently diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. Despite her own personal health challenges, Lori continues to work diligently on behalf of others offering guidance, strength and hope to all those living with cancer, as well as to those who care about them. I’m proud to call Lori my friend.

Lori has a website at lorihope.com where you can learn more. Please check it out.

Have you read Lori’s book?

Have you ever felt uncertain about what you should say to someone with a serious illness?

What piece of advice would you give to anyone who is unsure about what to say to someone with cancer?

What was something someone did for you during a time of need that you really appreciated?




31 thoughts to ““Help Me Live – 20 Things People with Cancer Want You to Know,” A Book Review & Giveaway!”

  1. I say the best thing to say to someone if you are unsure is to take their lead they may just need to feel you there and don’t want to talk about it. Sometimes it just gets to overwhelming. But just to feel the physical closeness and knowing you care enough to be there is more than enough!

  2. As someone who has been a caregiver for my cousin on and off since 1987 and who has encountered friends with cancer who have passed (my cousin is now battling Stage IV Metastic Breast Cancer)~I have never treated them differently, spoke in a “different” voice. We laugh alot and I cannot tell you how much my cousin and friends appreciated having “normal” conversations. I would love to start a “cancer chain” and pass this book around to other friends so they don’t feel so uncomfortable. I would ask that leave 1 or 2 sentences on how the book changed their perception and not “being afraid” of saying the wrong thing. It’s one thing for me to tell them just to be themselves but if they read it, that may hold for truth for them. Thank you!

    1. Angela, It’s wonderful that you have continued to be a caregiver for your cousin for so long. You make such a good point that it’s not necessary to treat people with cancer a whole lot differently than you did before their diagnosis. Perhaps a bit more compassion and understanding is called for, but they are the same people. Thanks for sharing your insights.

    1. Sara, I know what you mean. And yes, showing compassion is always a good thing to strive for – from any vantage point. Thanks for commenting.

  3. Sometimes or most times all i want and need is companionship. Lunch, shopping, continuing to dream, which for me is hope. I almost feel as though people r waiting to hear ive died. Slowly but fast to me, people have walked away.

    1. Dawn, I’m really sorry to hear that so many people have walked away from you. That’s really a shame. Thanks for sharing what you value, Dawn. Companionship doesn’t seem like too much to ask for. I hope you have a few friends that have stuck by you. My best.

  4. My neighbor said to me the other day “That cancer thing….you’re better now, right?”. I know he meant well & I understand what he meant, but geez! I just smiled & nodded….sometimes it’s the best thing to do! At least he asked how I was….and that’s more important than what words he used.

    1. Maureen, I know exactly what you mean. I’ve heard similar remarks myself. I agree, the most important thing is that this person cared enough to ask how you were doing. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  5. This book was on of the most helpful books I read after I was diagnosed. It made me think about how I intereacted with other people with cancer, and gave me insights into how I would react to people now that I was the cancer patient.

    The book is thoroughly researched and wonderfully written. She’s frank and funny and hopeful. You’re right, Nancy. This is a must read, for anyone touched by cancer.

    1. Katherine, I’m glad to get your “review” of this book. I love how well researched it is too. And Lori Hope has an amazing sense of humor doesn’t she? I agree, it’s a must read. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  6. Comments that disturb me are the “You are my hero.” ones. I am not a hero I am just trying to live. Luckily I have a great support group!

    1. Meg, Lori talks about the “hero thing” in the book. I agree with you completely on that one. Thanks for sharing. And I’m glad you have a great support group too! That helps so much.

  7. The avoidance is a terrible shame – a sad way to end a relationship. Lori’s positive perspective sounds very promising. I love the idea of describing what helps rather than what hurts; acknowledgement and compassion are powerful supports while navigating cancer.

    1. Catherine, Avoiding someone with cancer simply because you’re unsure about what to say or do is terribly sad isn’t it? I agree, acknowledgement and compassion are two pretty great “tools” to utilize when supporting someone with cancer, or any life challenge really. Thanks for you comments.

    1. Beth, Thank you. I’m glad you liked my review. Your advice is just about perfect. When in doubt, telling someone you care will always work.

  8. Nice review. I might actually read this one. I have too many ‘free’ cancer books. They aren’t free if you had to have cancer to get it.

  9. What a tremendous resource for patients as well as their loved ones. It really is a learning curve for everyone. When I first found out I had cancer, I didn’t even know how to respond! Add to the mix, I now needed to tell a spouse, a child, a parent, friends…all of whom had to process this news. Patience, kindness, laughter and understanding all go a long way as we all try to figure out what to say 🙂

    1. Cara, Great point about the learning curve – so true! There is much for all involved to process isn’t there? You’re so right, patience, kindness, laughter and understanding always go a long way. Thanks for your comments.

  10. As you know, Nancy, this is a topic near and dear to my heart. I love to speak about what to say to a cancer patient to any groups who will listen. I’d dearly love to win a copy of this important book by my beloved blogging friend Lori.

    I have felt uncertain about what to say to someone with a serious illness, but since I’ve had cancer, I’m more comfortable approaching the person.
    I advise those who are uncertain to say to the patient that they are sorry and then just listen. After that they can offer specific suggestions for how to help out.

    I appreciated a friend watching our three boys for us while my husband and I took a needed weekend retreat. I’ll never forget that gesture of kindness. There are many others, too, such as a friend driving me across the Bay Bridge in rush hour traffic so I could get a second opinion. She said I shouldn’t be alone. What a gem she is.

    Thanks for reviewing this wonderful resource. xx

    1. Jan, I do know this is a topic near and dear to your heart, Jan. Since my diagnosis, I’m more comfortable approaching someone with a serious illness or health issue of any kind too. Listening is so important and its value is so under-estimated as something one can do to offer support. Non-judgmental listening is worth an awful lot isn’t it? Your friend taking your three boys for a weekend was a lovely gesture indeed. And your “driver” friend, is a real gem for sure. Her words about you not being alone were perfect. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Is there a chapter telling the well-wishers that I don’t care about their “debilitating” 2-day cold or their sore knee?

    I’m cruel but my Stage IV Metastatic diagnosis is only a week old.

    1. Sheila, You aren’t cruel. Your feelings are perfectly understandable. I’m sorry about your mets diagnosis and I can’t imagine all you are dealing with right now, but I do care. Thinking of you as you process and proceed. Thanks so much for commenting.

    2. Sheila, there is much about this in the book. And I am about to blog about something related so I hope you’ll check out my CarePages blog at http://www.carepages.com/blogs/helpshurtsheals/posts

      Like Nancy, I agree that you are not at all cruel. What is cruel and even more so, tragic, is that people don’t more often stop to think before speaking, to don a filter, to find a place from which to speak such as LOVE or COMPASSION rather than EGO or FEAR.

      I am sending much love. Like you, I was recently staged at 4. It takes time. I have one friend who, truly, asked me on the eve of chemo night before last whether i considered that I might be doing myself more harm than good by getting chemo. I felt like she was trying to bury me in her belief system, not help me live. Sigh.

      “Human beings!” as my husband often says. Guess we have to laugh whenever possible, and realize that there is support out there in like-minded souls.

      Much love to you,

  12. I’ve learned so much.. I was taken away from my bio mom as a Baby. The RN that kept me well I found her Dead when I was 13. Taking care of her illiterate husband was so hard on me. He was an abusing alcoholic, abuser!! When I was 16 one Christmas Eve, I met my husband to be.. He saw some of the Hell I lived in! He helped me! When I was 19 & Pregnant he helped me locate my Bio mom. We got there in time to find her Dying from Breast Cancer. She didn’t share if I had a dad or family. I didn’t share she’d be a grandmother! It was a short, emotional, bittersweet Sad visit. Jump to 2010. Now its me with Triple Negative Breast Cancer!! My husband lost his job prior! So we’re doing it the poor way. Through it I had a Team! A primary Care DR., A Surgeon, radiologist, oncologist Etc.. My surgeon did my first surgery. Then closed her practice to be a senator. My radiologist and primary care doctor ALL moved away. So I had to find new doctors in my misery..! Why is an Emend pill $100.00 Each! So much I could NOT afford! I feel tortured and left to Die! I have a great caring husband that begged me to live! He saw my Dying mom’s Face in mine!! I do have married daughters! I do have young grand children. But when I lost my beautiful trademark Angel/Barbie hair. People NO longer recognised me or talked to me! Or people would go on to me How Beautiful my Hair was.. Go on and on.. I didn’t have one single hair left on my body. I looked and felt like walking Dead. No hiding all of that!! Sad more so being so poor! Even cars we owned weren’t fit for all of the long drives to other cities.. So my Dear Daughter took me! She’d make each day a treat!! She’d Drive me past the New Dodge Challengers I’d Dream I’d own if I lived! She’d also get me a 49 cent ice cream cone! Even when food hurt & burned. She’d make a fuss she wanted a cone. She never wanted a cone! But made sure I’d get nutrition! People would say some of the weirdest things to me! At work a older man told me he’d love me bald and breast less. But wanted a last touch! He was a widower!! People would say all the time how good I look. When I felt so Awful. I’d like to somehow educate that after treatment ends.. the pain, fatigue and side effects don’t end. Nor do the bills. I’ve had people come forward and offered me.. gifts, favors, wishes coming true.. hearing we have Zero income! But then many never followed through. What I loved and needed the most were gas cards and food cards. I can say for one year of heavy treatments I couldn’t clean my home. We’d be away from 6-12 hours each day of Chemo and appointments! For Chemo and treatments were so brutal and disabling. To date we’re living on zero income! I couldn’t find help my way. Where I lived. But I was always asked for donations to help people like me! Or I was once asked to be a mentor to.. Me!! Its a hopeless and helpless feeling. I know how it is to say honestly with a smile. We’re living on Love & A prayer. This life feeling like I was tortured and left to die isn’t easy or is the new normal easy. But I’m still here to live to love another day. Sharing my story. Hoping for Quality of Life after Cancer without recurrence, Cancer Prevention and for a Cancer Cure! I want NO one to experience what I went through..Its about time for a Cure. For all that held a door and smiled at me, sent a card or anything it meant the world to me! I wish in return for your kindness all life’s best blessings!

    1. Angela, I’m sorry for all you’ve gone through and been forced to deal with. It’s an awful lot. Thank you for sharing your story so honestly.

  13. I would greatly benefit and enjoy reading “Help Me Live—20 things People with Cancer Want You to Know.” I am dealing with Stage 111C Inflammatory Breast cancer. I am fearful of what is to become of this situation, My cousin Christina Ramirez age 57 died from Inflammatory Breast cancer on April 2014. Christina got cancer and was taken away from us so fast and aggressively. She only dealt with it for months. I am trying My best to stay strong & positive in hopes of a good healing outcome…With the Grace of God and good doctors helping Me I believe I can make it out to be well again. This cancer treatment and everything that goes with this fight has not been easy, to say the least.

    Much Love Always, Janet Juarez

    1. Janet, Thank you for commenting on this older post, however, this particular giveaway is over. This book is a helpful read if you should get a chance to read it. I wish you all the best.

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