I recently received a review copy of The Cancer Survivor’s Companion: Cultivating Hope, Healing and Joy in the Ground Beneath Your Feet by Jenny Peterson. St. Lynn’s Press was kind enough to provide the review copy but my opinion is, of course my own.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from the book despite the title. Nevertheless, my family has been touched by cancer as I am sure most families have. Therefore I wanted to see for myself whether this was a book I thought I could share with others. Not everyone has the same cancer journey and I would be reluctant to share something that is too “unrealistic ” or overly upbeat with some folks.
The book is divided into three sections: body, mind and spirit. And while Peterson is careful at all times to caution (particularly in the Body section ) that each person should consult with his or her own team of specialists, she talks about the importance of exercise and different ways to get that exercise in the garden. She is quite realistic about times when a person might not feel like gardening and she suggests small ways to stay involved like watering house plants, or even just walking outside with coffee or tea and being in the garden.
But it’s the Spirit section where Peterson really has some stellar advice. First, she shares that her recovery was not as straightforward as she expected it to be. That information alone should be helpful to other people.
Next, she has all sorts of suggestions for people of every faith tradition for ways to incorporate healing rituals into their lives –from mantras to labyrinths (with instructions on how to make your own ) to constructing a personal “altar “. While it may sound a bit New Age, having a space in the garden to go to for prayer or meditation while you recover is really what it is about. It can be as simple as a chair or as elaborate as a labyrinth.
The “Mind” section has some suggestions for keeping the brain active. It suggests things like garden photography, taking a tour of a nearby garden, or even just doing some garden planning with the help of catalogs, magazines and the computer. She suggests doing some garden plotting as well.
There are realistic suggestions for most people at most stages of treatment, I would think. Near the end of the book, she talks about one of the last moments she had with her Dad, who died of liver cancer. It is a lovely passage, despite the ultimate sadness.
There is also Resource section with lists of books, website sites, tools and other resources.
Overall, this is a lovely, positive book that should be a good resource for those on a cancer journey.