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Surviving Cancer, Healing People

Living at the Old Mission, San Juan Bautista is an intelligent creature who is a cat, Sula. Not just any cat, but a cancer survivor cat on a mission to provide comfort and solace to anyone in need. She takes instructions from her boss, God, about providing comfort to His people. She leads a busy life that involves attending daily mass, visiting gift shops to meet her friends, receiving children who come to visit the church, and walking the stations of the cross. This routine was disturbed when she was diagnosed with cancer. With the support of her friends and God’s mercy, she defeated cancer. Unfortunately, her ears had to be removed, but she is thankful for her life and health.

This sweet life story written by Sula is a loving read. It was a unique story of love, friendship, kindness, support, and God’s unconditional love for us. In addition to being Sula’s memoir, Surviving Cancer, Healing People by Sula also describes life at Old Mission San Juan Bautista and all churches in general. It provides a concise knowledge of Catholic practices from daily Mass to Christmas or Easter routines. It also teaches a beautiful lesson that lies at the core of every religion: kindness and support. I enjoyed the 200-year history of the church and the special arrangements for animals. If you go to church, remember that Sula does not like it when people ask about her ears.

There is practically nothing about this book that I do not like. It is beautifully written in a simple and entertaining style. I enjoyed Sula’s cute pictures with her friends and in various places. The letters from Sula’s friends and how she changed their lives were enjoyable to read.

Surviving Cancer, Healing People: One Cat’s Story is a heartwarming memoir of one special cat. Readers will learn about the Catholic faith and get a unique perspective on their practices and beliefs. Cat lovers, children, Christians, and everyone who likes a feel-good story will enjoy this short book.

Pages: 111 | ASIN : B06XFSJ3TX

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I Decided To Be That Voice

Author Interview
Katie Weber Author Interview

Living in the Gray is your personal story about surviving cancer and what life now looks like for you day to day. Why was this an important book for you to write?

The importance of this book for me was twofold: 1) I wanted to provide something for others, so they know they’re not alone; and 2) It gave me somewhere to express, in an authentic voice, everything I’m dealing with. I love to read so when everything went down, I was just looking for something by a younger-ish person that I could relate to. Everything I could find was written by someone older who had already lived most of their life, or who was really optimistic about “pulling through” and “never giving up”. Those are important messages, but I wanted something more real. When I didn’t find that, I decided to be that voice.

Speaking of voice, one thing I love about writing is that it allows me to say whatever I want to say and in whatever way I want to say it. As I discuss in this book, I have facial paralysis, which greatly affects my speech, and I think surgery did something to my vocal chords, so my speech is very slow and hard to understand. Part of my persona before was adding (often snide) comments to a conversation, and talking a lot (too much?). Since I can’t do that anymore, writing creates an outlet for me to exercise that part of myself. Writing this book gave me the chance to say some of the things I’m already thinking about.

What were some ideas that were important for you to share in this book?

Mainly that I think it’s okay to be sad or angry, but that there CAN be some good things in all that sadness. Some days, it’s enough. Some days, it’s not. I also think so many people look at cancer survival as inspiring or as making you a better person, so it can make you feel bad when you’re not the 1% that comes out unscathed or when you just want to be sad and upset about all of the things cancer takes away. I spend so much time beating myself up, like “You should be grateful, there are people without access to clean water!” and it’s like, yes, sure, but suffering is suffering is suffering.

Another important idea for me is this idea of choice. Choice is a very big deal in the cancer community, because cancer takes away so much of your agency. There are so many choices I can’t make, but I CAN choose what to think or how to say something to another person. I don’t always make the BEST choice (just ask my husband), but it’s nice to know that I do have control over that. So much of life is out of our control, it’s important to recognize what we DO own and what we CAN change.

What is a common misconception you feel people have about living with cancer?

I think a lot of people think of it as this sort of “one and done” thing. Like, you get cancer. You go through surgery/treatment. You die, they get rid of it, or you go into remission. You’re done. But it doesn’t always work like that. It’s not always cut and dry, and what’s acute for some people can be chronic for others.

The other thing I think people think and talk about the most is the physical stuff: the hair loss, the nausea, the exhaustion. I never quite know how to answer the question “So, how do you feel?” Well, what do you mean? Cause physically, I feel fine. But mentally, not so much. I don’t think enough is said about the mental effects of cancer.

What do you hope is one thing readers take away from your story?

Life can be messy, but it can also be beautiful. You’ve just got to know where to look and be willing to pivot.

Author Links: Amazon | GoodReads | Website

When Katie Weber was 23, she was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor. After surgery and treatment, she seemed good to go—until a relapse at 28 sent her life into a spin and forced her to forge a new identity and give up many of her dreams.

This is a cancer memoir, because it’s about and written by a young woman who gets cancer, but it’s so much more than that. In many ways, cancer causes us to ask all of the same questions about life any of us ask, but at a much faster rate. Questions about meaning and existence that just don’t seem to have clear answers. Katie especially lives in the gray right now, but really, we all do.

In Living in the Gray by Katie Weber, we learn that the gray is something we all need to be comfortable with, because uncertainty is the only thing we can ever be certain of.

Living in the Gray

Living in the Grey by Katie Weber is an emotionally-resonant memoir that follows Katie Weber. She has everything going for her, a great upbringing and an excellent education, she is young and healthy, but all of that is shattered when she is diagnosed with cancer at 23. After a heroic battle and being cancer-free for five years, she starts putting the pieces of her life back together. But then she relapses. With her identity and dreams shattered, Katie allows readers to follow her emotional journey, struggles, and fight for life.

Katie Weber shares her experiences in a candid and unfiltered way that feels raw, emotional, approachable, and uplifting. We learn about her challenges, but we also see how she manages to move forward.

Reading about Katie’s life after battling cancer and now in remission is an eye-opening read. There are many things that the author tells readers that I would never have thought about. Things people with cancer face, ask themselves, and fear. I was especially moved by seeing how much it affects your emotions and will to live. I wasn’t aware that the author suffered from double vision, inability to stand on her own, having bad hearing, and terrible memory. Her home has been modified to help her get around with little assistance from her husband. These are the day-to-day things that people with cancer face. They seem prosaic, but all these small things add up to something that feels daunting, and I appreciated how those challenges are shared and explored in this memoir.

Throughout the author’s book, she mentions that it is hard not to sound upset with everything she is dealing with and she should be grateful to be alive, but if I were in her shoes, I would feel the exact same way. I give praise to Katie for finding an outlet through writing. I also enjoyed the pieces of her blog she shares with readers. Katie also brings to light how the pandemic affected her because she was out of contact with the world and felt even more lonely.

Living in the Grey is an insightful, touching, and encouraging memoir that I highly recommend to readers who might be battling cancer or anyone who wants to learn more about the fight and see firsthand what those with cancer face. Katie Weber shares her personal experience, and readers get an up close look into her life and thoughts.

Pages: 68 | ISBN: 1639883851

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Live Each Moment Meaningfully

Rana Bitar Author Interview

The Long Tale Of Tears And Smile is more than just a memoir, it is the story of all those that came into your life.

I appreciated the candid nature with which you told your story. What was the hardest thing for you to write about?

The hardest thing for me to write about in the book was my brother’s death.

What is one piece of advice someone gave you that changed your life?

What changed my life is my interpretation of Robert Frost’s lines:

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.”

What do you hope is one thing readers take away from your story?

I hope that the reader will gain a new perspective on their health and lives and the value of living each moment meaningfully and to its fullest.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

The Long Tale Of Tears And Smiles explores an immigrant oncologist’s journey of triumphs and struggles, from growing up in Syria, to the tragic death of her brother, to her experiences as a young immigrant medical student and trainee in the USA. Walk through her anguish witnessing the civil war in Syria and its devastation; see her become a practitioner, watching the field of oncology evolves throughout the years.

This narrative-driven case study interweaves the stories of the patients Bitar has cared for with her own life stories; it reflects on how her patients’ lives and the stories of their survival or death inspired and changed her life starting and raising a family. Each patient’s approach to illness and end-of-life is as unique as they are, and each person’s journey contains unexpected lessons.

In the space between life and death, Bitar’s profession thrives; and in that space, she can search for the meaning of her existence.

I Believe in Giving Hard Truths

David Poh Huat Soh Author Interview

Nature’s Gift of the Soursop Leaves is a short reference guide explaining what the soursop plant is, and what its uses are. Was writing this book therapeutic for you?

Writing this book is a challenge to me as
a. it is the first book to be written in the world
b. have to consider how reader will feel

It gives me more motivation and prompted me to write my second book two months later

Has writing and publishing a book changed the way you see yourself?

Yes, it makes me more committed to talk to people and help them.

Who has been the biggest supporter of your writing?

My wife and my late sister as she was a firm believer of the leaves. Sad that her caregiver failed to prepare.

Would you share something about yourself that your readers don’t know?

I am still doing financial but because of COVID I guess I was called to write the book.

I am very passionate in my writing as I believe in giving hard truths and experience.

Author Links: Website

The author writes from his heart based on real life experience which he wants to reach out to help people.

The Long Tale of Tears and Smiles

Ranar Bitar’s The Long Tale of Tears and Smiles is as heartwarming as it is heartbreaking. It follows the author’s life from childhood to the present. As an oncologist and writer, she manages to do what many people struggle with – interweaving the scientific with artistic.

She talks of her early childhood vividly and beautifully, almost as a child would, effectively transporting us to that time of her life. Having grown up in Syria and moving to the US to practice medicine in her early twenties, her story is a unique one – one that explores both the “American dream” and the true meaning of home. In the book, we see her embrace multiple facets of her identity – the Syrian, the American, the physician, and the writer. Ultimately, it is hard not to empathize with her.

The true focus of this book isn’t Rana – it’s her patients. These are the people that pull us in like a magnet. They carry heavy burdens, many struggling with gut-wrenching cancer diagnoses, some even terminal. It is hard to read how they live and sometimes die. It forces readers to confront their own mortality and that of loved ones and their complex feelings about that.

Throughout the book, we see how Rana’s different patients have coped with illness over the years and what she has learned and given to them. We read of those who used talking or humor to fill awkward silences, those who sat still in the thick of silence, those who buried themselves in work and distractions, those who broke down in tears, and those who tried to bargain with death. To say it was unsettling is an understatement – it is like staring into an abyss that you have been trying to ignore your whole life.

However, the author does an excellent job of not making this story all about sadness and suffering. Instead, she challenges readers to defy death – to look it in the eye and refuse to give it our today. She challenges readers to live each day fully and to embrace the fact that the temporary nature of our lives is what makes them precious. By interweaving her personal story of love and loss with that of her patients, she brings us in and makes us feel like we are not alone, even in death.

The Long Tale of Tears and Smiles is a beautifully-written memoir book that will tug at the heartstrings like no other. So much so that it can make you cry of both anguish and joy.

Pages: 353 | ASIN : B09BG58KCY

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Nature Gifts of the Soursop Leaves

Nature’s Gift of the Soursop Leaves (Graviola Leaves) is a short testimony and a tribute. The author, David Soh Poh Huat, lost his sister Susan Soh Sung Choo to cancer in 2020. The informative book is meant to support all those suffering from cancer. The author lists out the benefits of consuming Soursop Leaves that are said to cure cancer and many other life-threatening chronic diseases. This flower and fruit-bearing plant is native to the tropics of America and the Caribbean and is consumed worldwide for its healing properties.

David Soh Poh Huat has written this enlightening book to spread awareness about the soursop leaves. It talks about preparing the soursop leaves, then moves on to the quality of soursop leaves that one should consume and where to buy them from. It further covers a list of benefits and finally moves on to various opinions, reviews and facts both supporting and opposing the use of soursop leaves. The author writes in a straightforward and concise manner, accompanied by visuals wherever necessary, which makes following the recipe a breeze. It is meant as an expert source to help readers understand how to source and consume soursop leaves and the potential side effects.

This informative book serves as an introduction to soursop leaves and their possible uses. Throughout the book, the author cautions the reader to talk with their doctors before they consume anything with this plant. Readers who want to know more about this interesting plant and its healing properties against cancer, side effects of chemotherapy, and several other chronic diseases should definitely pick this one up. The author cautions the readers to read up on the benefits, and side effects of soursop leave further as this isn’t a medically proven text, rather the author’s individual and learned experience.

Nature’s Gift of the Soursop Leaves is a nice introduction to the soursop plant and its potential uses. It is not a detailed reference book but does provide research information to get readers started on knowing more about this amazing plant. This would be a great resource for those that enjoy learning about different plants.

Pages: 37 | ASIN : B09BHKWX6F

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NO ONE walks alone!

Author Interview
Nina Norstrom Author Interview

Not a Blueprint: It’s the Shoeprints That Matters is a very personal story for you. How hard was it to put this story out in the world for people to read?

Firstly, you must know that I grew up in a house full of secrets. Whatever went on in the family, we were taught to keep it in the home. So, as an adult and a single parent, I was compelled to live a secretive and private life. I made a practice to rarely reveal what was happening in our lives. Even back then, those that knew of me had very little knowledge about me.

Secondly, for many decades, my journey with toxic relationships was deep seated, raw, and buried inside me. What you have to realize, I kept it all in a diary. Never realizing I was exactly telling a story about our life that would one day become an opened book to others. Unknowingly, this writing was a healing medium that many may have called writing therapy.

Initially, during the editing phases, all I could do was cry, cry, and cry while trying to relive those painful and hurtful events. There was an instance, I recall when the editor and I had bumped heads; since I could not break through those raw emotions to express my thoughts clearly and precisely. It was extremely bad that the publisher had to intervene. After the conversation with her, she had me to take four days off to recover from that ordeal.

Finally, once we’d gotten back to the writing, I still couldn’t break through those unsettling emotions. It was then I came up with a conclusion to take the portion out. Therefore, I wrote in its chapter titled, Finding Peace and Comfort.

I appreciated the candid nature with which you told your story. What was the hardest thing for you to write about?

Truly, there were many challenging moments. The pain was just overly great and hurtful, I wanted to scream in an octave range; to the top of my lungs. But, I’ll share with you these crucial ones . . .

The challenges surfaced when writing about the guilt and steps taken into being someone’s mistress. Knowingly, the pain I had ‘cause another with the interference I’d made in their lives. And how horribly I’d abused myself by giving up my self-worth; self-dignity; and all those other self-dimensions one possesses. Through it all, I’ve come to realize we can be our worst abuser.

The most sharpening and piercing piece was writing the horrible news about my child. Being that parent and having to watch one so young go through a grown folk’s disease ─ can be the most devastating experience ever endured. It even breaks my heart (now) to write it here. You know, life can be so unfair? Yes, then again, whoever said life was fair?

You have to remember, I was reared in a Christian environment. So, once I let go of my religious and spiritual beliefs, there I was holding on to that poison of unforgiveness. It took decades to find my way through the darkness that kept me in a fixed space with an inability to move forward.

Finally, those years of experiencing losses took its toll traumatically, and overpowered me mentally. I had become a basket case. Surprisingly, I didn’t see that until it was on paper! To become housed living inside a world of trauma was not only terrorizing, but horrifying. Perhaps, that may be difficult for one to understand what it’s like − unless he or she has walked that journey.

What do you hope is one thing readers take away from your story?

Unfortunately, that’s a tough question, I can’t clearly say there is one thing but many . . .

It’s story speaks about the good, the bad, and the ugly stuff life throws at us. Not only that, it was raw and canned. Thinking about relationships, there’s no way to prevent an engagement with them. Every integral piece is a vital part of living, period.

Ultimately, it’s message will reveal the importance that life brings many challenges; with each there are lessons learned along the way. And with each relationship, one can learn to recognize whether it has a toxic or non-toxic impact. Flipping through those pages, it illuminates the beauty of love, compassion, courage, determination, and strength.

As an end result, I can only hope readers reach an enlightening height from the lessons learned while walking on the journey. And realize that the engagement of toxicity affects everyone in one form or another. But, know when walking, NO ONE walks alone!

What is a common misconception you feel people have about toxic relationships?

In many cases, it could be that some feel they’re making the wrong choices or poor decisions when it comes to unhealthy relationships. However, they fail to realize you don’t chose a toxic person, they chose you.

In another instance, some are failing to realize the dangerous effects their interactions play out. But first they must understand what is a toxic relationship? “A toxic relationship occurs when two or more people interact in a way that is detrimental to their life.” Or, “Anything that is poisonous and capable of causing sickness or death.” In either case, all one has to do is think about how deadly COVID-19 has impacted our lives, daily. With that in mind, it’s evidence that a toxic relationship becomes nothing to play.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | TikTok | Website

Allowing us to learn lessons, let go of toxicity, and gain insight, relationship can play a powerful role in our lives. They are formed with people, alcohol, animals, battlefields, diseases, drugs, environments, and even our emotions. Whether toxic or nontoxic, relationships are an integral component of daily living. Author Nina Norstrom lost her child to a disease, but that wasn’t the only toxic relationship she endured. In this book, she explores the effects that her relationships with grief, pain, trauma, and forgiveness have had on her life. This tale exposes a mother’s struggle to escape her world of toxicity, her journey out of the clutches of diseased relationships, and the shoe prints the experiences have left on her family’s history. This story in its raw form projects a remarkable voice to the heroic fight, courage, and bravery gained when striking back to wipe out toxic relationships. Its message reveals that life brings many challenges and that each challenge provides lessons to be learned. This book is not intended to be a blueprint for dealing with diseased relationships. It’s about the shoe prints: those symbols of life’s journey that are left by our experiences. “Not a Blueprint: It’s the Shoe Prints that Matter” is an insightful and inspiring personal story of one family’s journey through toxic relationships.
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