Author: Diana M. Raab
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Reviewed By: Anne Holmes


At age 47, Diana Raab received a diagnosis of DCIS, an early breast cancer and five years later she was diagnosed with another incurable cancer – multiple myeloma. A nurse and award-winning writer, she embraced her cancer experience by journaling, which led to this memoir/self-help book that both recounts her personal voyage and empowers others in their cancer journeys.

Raab\’s forthright and empowering message is powerful, inspirational, insightful, compassionate, wry, concise and complete. This book is a mélange of poetry, reflection, memoir, and journal entries, which combine to create an intensely personal story. But what else would you expect from a memoir written in the form of a journal?

It\’s the author\’s opinion that, like a daily vitamin, journaling heals, detoxifies, and optimizes health. She believes that writing is one of the best ways to deal with one\’s traumas, resolved and unresolved.

As you read Diana\’s story, you recognize that she is a woman who knows what it is like to live fully, in the face of mortality. Of course, all of us are living in the face of mortality, and none of us will get out of this world alive…but not all of us actually recognize or embrace this fact.

This book begins with the routine of Diana\’a annual mammogram, and takes you through her cancer journey, step by step. At the end of each chapter, she asks the reader questions of writing exercise nature, which are designed to help the reader chronicle her own cancer experiences, essentially helping you begin your own cancer journal.

These questions are open ended, and thought provoking. For example, she asks:

  • Who is the first person you told about your breast cancer? How did they react?
  • Discuss your surgical biopsy.
  • What would you say to your cancer if it just walked through the door?
  • Many of those who have had cancer say that it was not a gift but a lesson. How do you feel about this and how has cancer affected your life?
  • What do you like most about being alive? What are your goals, dreams and wishes for the future?

The book includes several appendices, which provide the reader with training on how and why to write for wellness and a discussion of the writing process, healing modalities, a glossary of caner terms and a list of cancer support organizations.

By the time you finish this book you will understand why it is that she truly believes:

  • A cancer diagnosis can be a riveting event which can renew and change you in a unique way
  • Such a diagnosis should be considered a turning point that sets you free to fulfill or examine dreams that can no longer wait
  • Your cancer journey can be a time when you feel infinite strength and are prompted to look within yourself for the secrets to your own happiness
  • The process of journaling facilitates healing
  • Writing has the power to release bottled-up emotions
  • You need to wake up every morning happy to be alive and with joy in your heart

This is a powerful book that I would recommend to anyone with a cancer diagnosis, as well as to that person\’s family and friends. I say this not as a cancer survivor, but as a wife, sister and friend of several special people who have battled cancer and lost. After all, just about everyone fits within that category!

Finally, the author proceeds from this book are being donated to the Mayo Clinic.

NABBW Contributing Author