Lessons from Joan: Living and Loving with Cancer, a Husband's Story

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In the thirty-two months following Joan's cancer diagnosis she and her family experienced a journey that changed their lives immeasurably. With unflinching honesty, Eric R. Kingson recounts the ensuing medical treatments, their hopes and fears, their advocacy, and everyday struggles. But at the heart of the book is Joan's warmth and courage. Her observations on life and death, more philosophical than clinical, are honest and abundant. Drawing on her wisdom, Kingson has written a powerful and enriching book. Unexpectedly, it proves to be not so much a memoir as a love story. Lessons from Joan is not intended as a "how-to" book, but within its pages readers will find lessons about how to deal with unexpected life-threatening illnesses, how to identify and assess treatment options, and how to communicate with health care providers and deal with managed care.
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Editorial Reviews

This "book is, by turns, a valentine to Joan, a thank-you note to friends and family, and a how-to manual for families encountering a bewildering health care system in the face of terminal disease. Kingson manages a deft balancing act, crafting a work that is philosophical at times but never dense, inspirational without being overly sentimental, and instructive while much more than merely technical. Lessons from Joan presents a set of thoughtful reflections about struggle, loss and grief in a family turned upside down by the unanticipated illness of a youthful and vibrant wife and mother."
CEO, Hospice & Palliative Care Associates of Central New York
"[O]ffers far more than the usual memoir, however: its most valuable contribution lies in its lessons on how to navigate the medical system, how to obtain results in the face of obstacles, and how families can endure both diagnosis and treatment. This powerful story holds many lessons and much advice for any facing similar struggles, and is a high recommended pick."
"For those living with or touched by a diagnosis of cancer, "Lessons from Joan" will be a comfort and a help. For anyone seeking understanding in the presence of the mystery of disease, this book will be a flowing river of perception. It will provide laughter, thought, tears, and above all hope. I recommend it wholeheartedly."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780815608387
  • Publisher: Syracuse University Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/2005
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 209
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.70 (d)

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2006

    Many Lessons For Everyone

    A book this rich with information, experience and insight profoundly affects different readers in different ways, and for different reasons. What I found most enlightening was how Eric and Joan Kingson knit joyful activities into the fabric of their lives, even once cancer threatened to take life away¿unlike many people, like me, who are so focused on the future they neglect the present. Similarly, I was touched by Eric Kingson¿s candid picture of his and Joan¿s family, friends, careers, and life choices. It¿s clear that the author is not idealizing he is very honest about their difficulties and imperfections. Yet it is also very clear how psychologically strong and happy Eric and Joan were¿what a good marriage, family, set of friends, and community they had built through their dedication. For people like me who originate from less ¿functional¿ family backgrounds, it was eye-opening to learn how a family like this operates: how the Kingsons made choices, how they enjoyed life, and how they faced the unthinkable together with tenderness, humor, and persistence. Another aspect of Lessons From Joan that struck me profoundly relates specifically to Joan¿s death, as well as the unexpected deaths from cancer many years earlier of both Eric and Joan Kingson¿s parents. Since reading Lessons From Joan, I¿ve written letters to my children just in case something should ever happen to me. And months after reading Lessons From Joan, I find myself using Joan¿s last weeks of life as a gauge by which I measure whether my current goals, thoughts and actions make sense in ¿the big picture¿ of my own family¿s life. I also find I have a much deeper appreciation and understanding of the experiences of families affected by cancer, whereas before reading this book, my sympathy was superficial in a self-protective way. Eric Kingson takes the reader through the rollercoaster journey of life with cancer, after which no reader will ever be the same. Although that journey is painful, it is very life-enriching and worth every second of sadness the reader experiences as part of it. Lessons From Joan holds many lessons for everyone, applicable well beyond the typical audience for this type of book. Eric Kingson is an excellent writer, and through his writing, those lessons are cemented into the reader¿s mind and woven into our hearts, where they strengthen the foundation on which we base our own futures, whatever they may be and for however much time we may have.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2006

    Lessons from Joan Provides Valuable Insights

    Lessons from Joan was especially meaningful to me because my sister has stage-4 colon cancer. Not only did the story of Joan's illness & the ways in which her family coped help me, but the book also provides valuable information on dealing with doctors, insurance companies and others involved in treatment. Once again, I was reminded of how important it is to be proactive in your own health care and not to rely completely on medical personnel. Getting copies of your test results, ferreting out new possible treatments, and asking questions are all stressed in the book. The book also made me wonder: just how much are we willing to endure in order to prolong life? There were copies of letters to insurance companies, healthcare providers in the appendix which would be helpful for someone trying to wade their way through the healthcare system. I recommend this book to anyone who is dealing with a life-threatening illness.

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