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  • Writer's pictureThe After Cancer

20 books written by cancer patients and caregivers


Pile of books written by cancer patients and caregivers.

We compiled a list of 20 books that offer personal accounts, reflections, and insights into the experiences of cancer patients and caregivers, providing different perspectives on the challenges and triumphs associated with the disease.


  1. "The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying" by Nina Riggs: Riggs confronts her terminal breast cancer diagnosis with grace and humor, exploring life's beauty and the inevitable reality of mortality.

  2. "When Breath Becomes Air" by Paul Kalanithi: A neurosurgeon's poignant memoir reflecting on life, love, and the pursuit of meaning after being diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.

  3. "The Cancer Journals" by Audre Lorde: Lorde's powerful collection of essays and poetry delves into her experiences as a black lesbian feminist dealing with breast cancer and the intersectionality of her identity.

  4. "The Middle Place" by Kelly Corrigan: Corrigan's memoir shares her poignant journey as she balances her own breast cancer diagnosis while caring for her aging father with cancer.

  5. "Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I've Loved" by Kate Bowler: Bowler's memoir challenges the notion that everything happens for a reason as she grapples with her stage IV colon cancer diagnosis and explores faith, mortality, and life's uncertainties.

  6. "The Year of Magical Thinking" by Joan Didion: Didion's raw and honest memoir recounts the year following her husband's death and her daughter's critical illness, delving into the complexities of grief and loss.

  7. "Cancer Schmancer" by Fran Drescher: Drescher's memoir chronicles her battle with uterine cancer, providing insights into her journey of empowerment, advocacy, and the importance of early detection.

  8. "Bald is Better with Earrings: A Survivor's Guide to Getting Through Breast Cancer" by Andrea Hutton: Hutton shares her personal experiences and practical advice as she navigates the challenges of breast cancer treatment, from diagnosis to recovery.

  9. "Dying to Be Me: My Journey from Cancer, to Near Death, to True Healing" by Anita Moorjani: Moorjani's transformative memoir recounts her near-death experience during a coma caused by stage IV lymphoma and the profound insights and healing she gained.

  10. "The Unwinding of the Miracle: A Memoir of Life, Death, and Everything That Comes After" by Julie Yip-Williams: Yip-Williams reflects on her experiences as a blind child in Vietnam, her battle with colon cancer, and her journey towards acceptance and embracing the beauty of life.

  11. "Cancer Made Me a Shallower Person: A Memoir in Comics" by Miriam Engelberg: Engelberg's graphic memoir humorously captures her experiences as a breast cancer patient, offering a unique perspective on the challenges and absurdities of the disease.

  12. "The Last Lecture" by Randy Pausch: Pausch's inspiring memoir shares his life lessons and reflections after being diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer, encouraging readers to make the most of their time and pursue their dreams.

  13. "My Sister's Keeper" by Jodi Picoult: A thought-provoking novel exploring the ethical and emotional complexities of a family's decision-making as they grapple with their daughter's cancer diagnosis and the implications of organ donation.

  14. “A Cancer Patient’s Wife“ by Maren Higbee: When Maggie’s beloved husband, Luke, is diagnosed with cancer, she uses empathy and humor to navigate her fear and sorrow and help him survive.

  15. "The Case for Hope" by Jennifer Dickenson: In 2011, Jennifer Dickenson was a busy lawyer when she was diagnosed with grade 4 brain cancer and given scant hope for survival. But she started looking for hope anyway and discovered the magnificent ways in which we can heal through the mind, body, and spirit.

  16. “Hope Triumphs ALL” by Emily Yatsko Sandusky: In this compilation of experiences, reflections, and journal entries, Sandusky shares her 24 years of cancer survivorship from her point of view. She went through leukemia four times and tries to make sense of it all when looking back on her life.

  17. “Eye Won” by Jess Van Zeil: As Jess's dreams were beginning to come true, life dealt her a severe blow in the form of Conjunctival Ocular Melanoma. With her sassy blend of honesty and humor, Jess reveals what it takes to thrive in the face of adversity.

  18. “The Only One: A Memoir of Hope” by Wendy Moses: At the age of twelve, Wendy Moses had been diagnosed with three life-threatening diseases. Her story is one of fear, dishonesty, and solitude, but most of all of hope. A hope that maybe just one life will be changed by her experiences.

  19. “Hi...I'm Chuck!: A miraculous journey surviving stage four cancer with its lessons, growth and healing" by Chuck Keels: In 2015, a team of doctors diagnosed Keeps with stage four cancer and gave him only three months to live. This story documents his miraculous journey, his fight to survive, and a test of his faith.

  20. “Faith Like Skin: A journey of learning to display faith through the challenges of cancer, death, & broken relationships” by Hannah Dekker Keels: When faced with life's greatest trials, Hannah responded in a way that forever changed her life, her faith, and how others would view her. This book is an amazing tool for anyone facing challenges that feel like dead-ends.

 

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