“Write For Life – Communicating Your Way Through Cancer” – A Book Review & Giveaway!

Generally speaking I don’t do reviews, even book reviews, very often because frankly, I get tired of being a vehicle for free promotion. So unless a book grabs my attention or is about a topic I’m super interested in (and think you will be too), I mostly pass on these “offers”. If I am interested, I usually say sure send me your book; in fact, send me two copies.

I like to offer free stuff to you, dear readers, once in a while and free books are always nice, right?

Even then, I don’t commit to a review post. I just say I’ll read it and take things from there. This seems to work well and weeds out more than a few requests.

Some subjects I am truly passionate about and one of these is writing.

Writing is healing. Sharing is healing too. Put the two together and well… just about anything is possible. It’s why I started blogging and why I keep at it.

This is also why when I was asked to consider reviewing, Write For Life – Communicating Your Way Through Cancer by David Tabatsky, I pretty much knew I’d be saying yes.

Write For Life. The title alone is great, don’t you think?

Sometimes I quite literally feel as if I do write for life. Or live to write. Or something like that, but you get the idea. Writing is a huge deal in my life. I believe it can be in yours too. It can be in everyone’s.

Right off the bat in the foreword of this book I read this:

“Writing for your life is about telling your truth. Trust your feelings; they tell you the truth.”  

I think I’ve written something pretty similar more than a few times.

Truth telling is what it’s all about. Honoring your own truths about cancer or whatever you are dealing with.

Is there any other way? Umm, yeah…

Write For Life – Communicating Your Way Through Cancer is divided into three parts:  Part One Me: It’s All About Me! Part TwoYou:  It’s All About You! (and Me) and Part Three Us:  It’s All About Us (The World at Large).

Each section contains a little story, words of encouragement, general information or questions to get you thinking followed by writing prompts to get you closer to the goal – writing  stuff down!

Admittedly, at first I was skeptical because I was waiting for the part where you are asked to write down how cancer has taught you such and such and how you are now a much better and wiser version of your former self.

That kind of thinking does not work for me. I reject the notion that cancer magically turns you into a better person.

No, the author instead encourages the reader to pay attention to her genuine feelings – whatever they might be. He goes so far as to call one exercise, Blood on the Page and says this:

“If you feel it, write it. If it hurts, say so. Why hold back? This is your life.”

Don’t you love that? I do.

There are also prompts for making practical lists and heaven knows, after a cancer diagnosis, we need some of those too.

Part two focuses on relationships and contains prompts to encourage writing about gratitude (for people not cancer), communicating with family members and doctors and improving active listening skills to name a few.

Part three has tips on how to actually write. The author offers tips on where to write, how to set a scene, the benefit of laughter and there’s also a snippet on editing along with a few suggestions on how to go about actually getting published.

So all in all, the book is a handy tool to get yourself writing more.

My only “complaint” is that at less than 100 pages, it’s almost too brief. I would have liked more exercises, especially in Part One, where the focus is on self-examination. You can get through the entire book pretty quickly, which come to think of it, after a cancer diagnosis is not a bad thing after all.

It’s also worth mentioning that this book is appropriate for anyone whose life has been impacted by cancer – definitely including caregivers, other family members and yes, the medical professionals too.

Finally, the following words from the book are ones I live by every single day when I sit down to write:

“Life changes in an instant. It can happen to any of us. Your story, poem, song or drawing may resonate for someone else in ways you can never imagine. Inside each of us is the potential to heal another through care, compassion and honest communication.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself!

Perhaps we should all Write For Life, or at least read the book!

For a chance to win a FREE copy of Write For Life – Communicating Your Way Through Cancer by David Tabatsky, leave a comment below stating you want to be included in my drawing by noon CT on Tuesday, November 5th.  The winner will be announced shortly thereafter.

Why not enter today?

Do you write (or want to) on a regular basis?      


About the Author

David Tabatsky is a writer, editor, teacher, director and performing artist. He is the author and co-author of numerous books, including Chicken Soup for the Soul’s The Cancer Book: 101 Stories of Courage, Support & Love. Mr. Tabatsky teaches writing workshops at cancer centers throughout the United States.

To learn more about David Tabatsky’s work or to PURCHASE any of his books, visit tabatsky.com or click on the image above. (I’m pretty interested in one of his other books, Beautiful Old Dogs).

43 thoughts to ““Write For Life – Communicating Your Way Through Cancer” – A Book Review & Giveaway!”

  1. Nancy, this book sounds really interesting. Like you, I feel compelled to write. And, like you, I don’t feel cancer has made me a better person, although it has made me a different person in so many ways.

    I think any form of expression — writing, art, music — is so therapeutic. It’s important for anyone, but particularly those affected by cancer, to take advantage of these outlets.

    1. Beth, Your point is excellent. Any form of expression is validating and therapeutic. Thanks for reading and thanks for the writing that YOU do!

  2. I am not a cancer survivor but my mom is and many of my friends. I also lead support groups and think this book would be an asset to healing. I love to write and have a blog regarding grief – the losses we experience throughout the course of our lives and because of a loved one’s death. I also encourage others to write even if it remains private, just to release their stories. Thank you for including me in the drawing! Kathy

    1. Kathy, I will have to check out your blog about grief. I try to address this topic on mine too. “Releasing their stories”, I like the way that sounds. Thank YOU for taking part in this drawing.

  3. Nancy, I would love to be entered into the drawing.

    I have a stack of blank journals that I stare at and wonder how to get started. This book could be the jump start I need to start writing things down. Thanks Nancy!


    1. Barb, A stack of journals staring at you can be intimidating. I have a couple of blank ones myself. Sometimes you just need to start by writing a sentence or two. It’s very validating to write your thoughts down. I love reading them after some time passes. Thanks for reading and participating, Barb.

  4. I journal (off and on) and write poems (when inspiration strikes) to help cope with my feeling about cancer. Some I need to organize and save for family and friends and a few I probably should burn if treatments stop working so no one will ever see them.
    Please enter me in the drawing.

  5. I started writing a journal when I was first diagnosed but then stopped. Maybe this book would get me back on track.

  6. Hi Nancy, I just wanted to say I’m glad to see the concept of writing in a book form. For some it comes easy, but I reckon others may do well with support like this. Writing has been a huge help in my experience, and I know it is the same for other bloggers at FCT. Please don’t include me in the draw – I am already in full gear writing mode 🙂 But the book concept certainly sounds great. I hope it is helpful to whoever may win! ~Catherine

    1. Catherine, You most certainly are in full gear writing mode! I’m very excited for you. Thanks for commenting and for your always incredible show of support for others.

  7. I have 3 published pieces on my experiences as a 4 time breast cancer survivor. The first 2 were very short and were in the “rah rah you go girl” genre. The third was a longer piece published recently on Katydidcancer. Each piece gets progressively more real ( and less rah rah). Cancer for me has been life changing but not always in a good way. I would love this book to help me write more indepth about my journey with cancer. I have a lot of truths that haven’t been written about yet.

    1. Sharon, Our writing evolves doesn’t it? Often times with this evolution comes more truth telling, or maybe it’s more like we are less fearful or less hesitant about doing so. Thanks for entering! You’re in!

  8. I would, indeed, like to be included in your drawing.

    I liked the parts you quoted as well. I wish I wrote more often, but it is getting harder and harder to be at the computer (physically). Sometimes things swirl around in my head for weeks before they take form and I get my fingers moving. Writing is very cathartic, we do write for our lives sometimes. And sometimes getting it written takes the burden off our mind.

    Good review. I think my psychologist would be interested in this too.


    1. Shelli, Gosh, I’m sorry it’s getting so hard for you to sit at your computer to write. I hope you do feel up to continuing because one thing I love about you is how you are not afraid to express your true feelings. Even the title of your blog makes a statement. Yes, writing is so healing and I do agree that sometimes putting difficult thoughts on the page does take the burden off one’s mind. It’s a transfer of sorts. Thanks for reading and commenting. You’re in the drawing!

  9. Nancy, I love your blog, your words and your way of thinking about being a survivor! I have written some blog posts for http://www.1uponcancer.com and I know there is more writing and stories in me to be told about life after cancer. I would love to have a copy of Writing for Life to help me and my clients ( I am a coach and psychotherapist) and any one who living with the challenges of cancer in their life! There is a writer in me waiting to be born! Thanks, for entering me in this giveaway, Nancy!

    1. Bethany, I love what you said about there being more writing and stories inside of you that are waiting to be told. I believe that’s true for every single one of us, cancer or not. There are lots of writers waiting to be born! Too many hesitate to write for lots of reasons… thanks for reading and entering my giveaway.

  10. My Mom, a breast cancer survivor took up writing after she recovered. I wonder if this was some unconscious way to help heal. I like the book that I included in the website URL above, but I think the book that you mentioned would be a fabulous Christmas present for my Mom. Please enter me into your drawing!

  11. Writing has always been an important part of my life, and truly a life-saver in helping me work through difficult, sometimes toxic emotions. Some of those difficult times were when I was an active alcoholic. I had been writing for 30 years before I got a cancer diagnosis, but writing took on new meaning as I wrote about the fears, details, uncharted territory of cancer surgeries and treatment. Writing is very therapeutic and cathartic for me and I appreciate reading what you write as well. I hope the book goes to someone who needs a jumpstart to do some writing. It can make such a difference!Thanks Nancy!

    1. Lisa, I agree with everything you said about writing. It took on a whole new meaning for me, too, after my diagnosis – actually during my mother’s illness and death is when I got “serious” about writing again. Writing does help a person get through the hard stuff; in fact, it helps you get through anything. Thanks for commenting and for the nice compliment. I appreciate your writing as well.

  12. I struggle with journaling but want to do it and find other artistic ways to express my feelings. I know exploring this part of myself will help me heal from cancer.

    1. Pam, You aren’t alone in your struggle to journal. It’s worth the effort though, as is pursuing other artistic ways to express oneself. I hope you you do explore those parts of yourself. Good luck in the drawing. Thanks for commenting.

  13. Thanks to Nancy for bringing my book to a wider audience.
    I sincerely hope it helps…
    And to those wondering how to begin or struggling with too much time already spent at the computer, try writing the old-fashioned way––with a notebook and pen, curled up on the couch with a nice cup of tea.

  14. Would love to win this book, but thankful in any case that you brought it to my attention! Definitely rings true to my own feelings and experiences writing. My sister Christina and I laugh all the time that a word cloud of our blog would probably have the word “truth” huge in the middle. We are compelled to tell it, messy and hard to swallow as it may be, as we wade though this life of dying sister and failed relationship and loving family and unfairness and struggle and beauty and love. It’s all the truth.

    Thanks for the truthful message and story you tell *here*, Nancy!

    1. Jessica, Thanks so much for your comment. I love what you said, “We are compelled to tell it, messy and hard to swallow as it may be,” I don’t like that you have such truths to tell, but since you do… It’s always about sharing one’s truths. Thanks again.

  15. I can’t wait to read all the post! Met Florence Strang at the National Survivorship convention in August and if she recommends something it is worth your time.

  16. This sounds like a wonderful book. I write for the therapeutic value, but don’t do it often enough. Trips to doctors and life’s challenges of living with advanced cancer get in the way. But I do try. And I’m glad others share my enthusiasm for writing. xo

  17. It seems like this book really encourages the reader to be in that moment so they can genuinely experience it and then let that moment go. That would seem to facilitate a much healthier approach rather than stuffing all those feelings inside.

    Thanks for posting this.


    1. Paula, You’re right. This book encourages honest self-expression and that’s so important. Repeatedly stuffing one’s feelings down is unhealthy and in the long run, potentially quite harmful as well. Thanks for reading and participating in my drawing.

  18. I would love to write more than I do, as I very much find it therapeutic and love to know that perhaps it may help others in the future, on their Stage IV Breast Cancer journey. It has been difficult for me to write regularly though, with our daughter home, in and out of school for her ALL (leukemia) treatment and sometimes I struggle not having enough energy or I wonder if I’m too much of a downer or perhaps just too real. I would absolutely love to win this book though! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Summer, Being real is not being a downer. You are entitled to feel how ever you are feeling! Sometimes it is hard to muster up that energy and it’s no wonder in your case; it sounds like you have an awful lot to deal with. Thanks for entering my drawing. You’re in!

  19. Writing fills the void when isolation appears to be my only friend. It’s healing, rewarding and a true lifeline.

    The book sounds wonderful, and I would love to be entered into the drawing!

    Thank you,


  20. I found myself 4 the 1st time in my life truely feelin alone,my daughter was all grown up n moved on with her family&didnt want 2 burden her,on her 3rd baby&baby having problems I didnt end up tellin her till my hair was falling out.BROKE ME SO BAD TO SEE HOW MUCH I HURT HER WHEN I TOLD HER I had stage 3agressive breastcancer,losing my eyelashes eyebrows along with my thick once healthly hair@my waist now not just feeling alone but also starting 2 feel so unpretty after chemo having my breat removed I started 2 feeling my hurt turning 2 anger feeling like I was no longer a real women feelin like anything else u wanna take kinda feeling happy that my husband wasnt gonna be there for me due to he wasnt coming home 4 another 3yrs after my mastomy was done I didnt even want him 2 see me till my reconstuction,not returning his calls for 8mths only sending mess through my mother inlaw,Instead of looking@how Im here another day Ive not only made it through agressive stage 3cancer but through 4treatments of chemo instead of6 cuz I was responding so good 2 the chemo,never looking or feeling my breasts 2 see how much its going dwn just goin on wit my life tryin not 2 dwell on things if they r gettin better if they r just stayin the same then thinking Im all better now after mastectomy,I dont need radiation done after surgery a let it go 4 3mths n said Ive come this far just finish…..thanking GOD 4 MY GRANDBABY WHO WAS TRUELY THERE 4 ME CUZ SHE MOVED IN WIT ME TAKIN MY MIND OFF BEIN SICK JUST KNOWIN I HAVE 2GET UP EVERYDAY 4 HER I HAD NO TIME 2 FEEL SORRY 4 MYSELF N DWELL ON HOW SICK I REALLY WAS.So I thank god exspecially 4 her& that Im gonna be around 2 watch all my grandbabies grow,n I can be here for my babygirl when she needs a shoulder 2 cry on or just some1 2 listen 2 her.n reading all these personal blogs HELPED ALOT!
    Ive never read any of the paperwork the doctors send hm with me they r still sittin in the same hosp bag the doc gave me 2 read
    But 4 some reason I wanta read that book,n I now wanna start writing again Ive put my pen dwn now 4 over 10yrs n Im done hinding my sickness under wigs Im gonna share my health n my 2nd chance@life.

    1. Selana, I’m sorry about all your physical and emotional pain…I’m glad you find the blogs you’ve been reading helpful. I hope you do read the book and start writing down your thoughts. Putting thoughts and feelings on paper can be quite validating and healing. Thanks for sharing. My best to you.

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