More than a million people in the U.S. get cancer each year, according to the American Cancer Society. So it’s no wonder religion publishers across the spectrum are offering books on the topic, aiming to comfort, inspire, and motivate change.
Buddhist house Wisdom Publications releases Zen Cancer Wisdom: Tips for Making Each Day Better by Daju Suzanne Friedman in September. Friedman wrote from her experience as a Chinese medical doctor often working with cancer patients and as a cancer patient herself. She died in March.
“Zen Cancer Wisdom manages the difficult task of talking about the realities of cancer--chemotherapy, changes in appearance, sickness--without being bleak,” says editor Andy Francis. “The book is always uplifting, and Daju Suzanne Friedman had a great sense of humor about living with cancer.” Francis adds, “It’s sometimes said that you are most ready to hear and appreciate Zen teachings when you are near death. Zen Cancer Wisdom makes these teachings relevant to readers, even if they do not have a Zen background.”
Kara Tippetts also writes from experience in The Hardest Peace: Expecting Grace in the Midst of Life’s Hard [correct title] (David C. Cook, Oct.). This mother of four living with breast cancer speaks openly and honestly about life’s tough stuff. “The writing of this book caused me to look at my story and seek the grace to walk this hard path with cancer,” she writes on her website.
For those eager to continue their yoga practice and harness its restorative effects, Healing Arts Press offers Yoga for Cancer: A Guide to Managing Side Effects, Boosting Immunity, and Improving Recovery for Cancer Survivors by Tari Prinster (Nov.). Prinster is a cancer survivor and certified yoga teacher.
Erik Reese writes of his daughter’s cancer and the inspiration she continues to provide, even after her death, in Never Ever Give Up: The Inspiring Story of Jessie and her JoyJars (Zondervan, Sept.). Jessie Reese found a way to cheer up other children suffering from cancer by creating JoyJars—jars full of activities and small gifts for young cancer patients. She personally sent out more than 3,000 while she was ill; over 80,000 have now been distributed to kids worldwide.
Says David Morris, v-p and publisher of trade books for Zondervan, “This 11-year-old girl shows us how to turn a difficult diagnosis into something positive that has become an international movement.” The press (a division of HarperCollins Christian Publishing) sends copies of the book to children’s hospitals nationwide, and has received endorsements from Celine Dion, Bethany Hamilton, Eva Longoria, and Rick and Kay Warren, among others.
“The book is a reminder of how much power we have to overcome difficulties and shift attention to others no matter our circumstances,” says Morris.