One of the things I like about reviewing books is that it makes you take a second glance at books you might otherwise have ignored. Certainly, a book about someone suffering from cancer isn’t one that I would normally pick up. Why would I? Cancer affects one in three people; there isn’t one of us who doesn’t know someone who has/had cancer or has died because of it, whether it's a friend, family, or colleague. Sadly, it’s little more than an arm’s length from us.
When I was asked if I would review this book, I confess I did say to myself, oh lord, do I really want to read a book about a man who is dying? After all, my reading is recreational - do I want to be saddened? The book is short, and so I thought I would take that second glance. However, this isn’t a book one ‘reviews’. It’s not a book that you like or dislike.
This courageous dying man has written this book to raise money for a foundation to provide support to terminally-ill cancer sufferers by asking people to friend him on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=525956286) and to pledge $10 to his cause after he dies. His aim is to raise a million in this way, along with proceeds from the sale of this book.
It’s a book about a man – a young man – who describes his first diagnosis of his malignant melanoma, his treatment, its spread, yet more treatment, its effects, and, most poignantly, about what cancer has taught him. He rarely complains. He cries, yes, he cries a lot, but he doesn’t complain. Instead, he tries to find a positive and discovers that cancer has actually taught him a thing or two. It’s taught him to find joy in other people’s happiness, humility, the joy of giving without receiving in return; it’s taught him to recognise other people’s strength and courage, it’s taught him to fight, and rather touchingly, it’s brought him the experience of a new love.
Apart from the utter selflessness of this young man, what bowls you over instantly is his intelligence, his eloquence, his wit, and if you can believe it, his enduring sense of humour. He says cancer has taught him many things, but we would do well to hear those lessons and learn and reap from them before we have to wait for cancer to teach us. He is engaging and inspiring – the testament to that are the Facebook posts (some of which are quoted in the book) and quotes from those who have been fortunate enough to meet Michael.
My – what a long ‘review’ of a short book. I think that just about says it all. So go to Michael’s Facebook page, friend him, pledge your $10 to him. If it’s not viable because of your location, then perhaps you could give to a local cancer cause or hospice.
I said before that this is not a book you like or dislike; it’s one that cannot fail to touch and inspire you.