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Bookshelf: Surviving Cancer: Our Voices & Choices

A lifelong artist, Marion Behr didn't lose that sensibility when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
BY Marion Behr
PUBLISHED August 27, 2015
Surviving Cancer: Our Voices & Choices
A lifelong artist, Marion Behr didn’t lose that sensibility when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Undergoing radiation therapy, Behr chatted with patients like herself, hearing their experiences with treatment and with everyday life. At the same time, she reflected on the radiation cradles that health care workers molded around the bodies of each patient to help them hold still during treatments, which were then thrown away. Her artist’s mind went to work as she preserved 35 of the used cradles by transforming them into sculptures that reflected the emotions and journeys of her fellow patients.

During an exhibition of the sculptures, Behr was part of a panel that answered questions about the cancer experience, and she found herself amazed at the unique and informative perspectives expressed by both patients and health care experts. She became determined to capture that broad range of insights in a book.

Nearly five years later, Behr has self-published that book. It features essays written by patients, doctors, researchers, social workers and others – including a Nobel laureate, the head of cancer research at Hebrew University, the director of a cancer hospital, and Behr’s daughter, a radiologist. It also features images of the artist’s radiation cradle sculptures.

“Surviving Cancer” is particularly helpful because it is organized to see patients chronologically through the cancer journey, from facing a diagnosis and assembling a medical team to considering treatments and eventually addressing the mind, body and spirit in recovery. There are even sections on navigating cancer in third-world countries, the financial aspects of surviving cancer and research on the horizon.

The book has been awarded the Gold IPPY in the health category for 2015 by Independent Publisher, an organization that defines itself as “the voice of the independent publishing industry.” It has also been awarded the New Apple 2015 Medal in the Specialty Book category; New Apple is an organization that provides support to independent authors.

“Through the process of compiling this book, I could not help but notice how overcoming cancer has given many survivors a mission to do something to help others, whether it takes the shape of creating an organization, speaking to groups of patients, writing a narration, making sculptures to encourage early detection or collaborating to create a book,” Behr wrote in a preface. “All of the contributors hope that those who read this book will benefit from our joint effort.”
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