From losing a husband to losing a routine, issue 11’s bookshelf features tales from supporters and warriors alike that can help you make sense of a new identity.
“You Are Enough” by Charlene Wheeless
“I changed my life to save my life,” says author Charlene Wheeless. In her previous life, Wheeless worked as a C-suite executive chief communications officer for a global infrastructure company and was a self-proclaimed “classic Type A workaholic personality.” However, much of that came to a halt upon receiving her surprising breast cancer diagnosis. Wheeless’ cancer experience and the lessons she learned in her struggles with post-treatment recovery are detailed in her new book, “You Are Enough!: Reclaiming Your Career and Your Life with Purpose, Passion, and Unapologetic Authenticity.”
Diagnosed in February 2017, Wheeless said one of the most difficult parts of her treatment was being asked to step back from work by her oncologist.
“The thing that blew me away the most is she said, ‘You can’t work during your treatment. I’ve seen your lifestyle. I’ve seen how stressed out you are. The stress will impact your recovery,’” Wheeless recalls.
But after nearly eight months away, Wheeless returned to her fast-paced work environment. She soon learned she just couldn’t “do it” like she had in the past. Then the complications began. Some were psychological. “I was actually quite depressed. That threw me for a loop,” Wheeless remembers. “I would look in the mirror and I looked into my eyes and I just didn’t seem familiar to myself.”
But she also faced profound physical complications, too. After enduring numerous surgeries, Wheeless felt like she was losing the post-cancer battle. “It all just kind of came to a head and I just said, ‘I’ve got to choose me. This is just not going to work,’” Wheeless says.
She soon left her job, opening herself up to what she now believes is her real purpose in life—to help people heal. “Being a lifelong communicator, I thought, maybe this was it,” Wheeless says. “For me, this was my new voice, to speak authentically and say what needs to be said so that maybe people won’t feel so alone who were in my situation.” The idea to write a book came to her immediately.
“The [words] came pouring out of me,” she recalls. Two months later, it was complete. “I really focused on the book and on being authentic and telling the truth in the hopes that somebody else who reads it—maybe somebody who’s not as strong as I am—will read it and say, ‘I’m not alone.’”
Now, Wheeless hopes that other cancer warriors and thrivers can find hope and comfort in her discussions about the unseen parts of illness and recovery. “My hope is that by reading my story, people will give themselves room to not be okay and understand that it isn’t an indictment on them or their life.”
“You Are Enough!: Reclaiming Your Career and Your Life with Purpose, Passion, and Unapologetic Authenticity” is available now wherever books are sold.
“Cancer with Hope: Facing Illness, Embracing Life, and Finding Purpose” by Mike Armstrong
In the corporate world, Mike Armstrong was something of a game changer. As a successful CEO and business leader for household names like DirecTV, AT&T and Comcast, Armstrong helped revolutionize the technology and broadcast industries. But in private, he struggled greatly, with separate diagnoses of leukemia and prostate cancer. Later, after a near-fatal bout of sepsis and the crippling side effects of an autoimmune disease, Armstrong found a new purpose in life born out of the disruptions of his health. In “Cancer with Hope,” Armstrong shares his own story as well as those of other patients and doctors who offer experiences filled with advice and inspiration for warriors and thrivers alike.
“Cancer with Hope: Facing Illness, Embracing Life, and Finding Purpose” (Johns Hopkins University Press) is available wherever books are sold.
“The Cancer Misfit: A Guide to Navigating Life After Treatment” by Saskia Lightstar
As any thriver will admit, cancer treatment is often as regimented and organized as any medical treatment can get. But after months spent with a dedicated care team and carefully chosen medical treatment, most thrivers are left to fend for themselves in the post-treatment world of remission. Saskia Lightstar felt the same after surviving breast cancer. Inspired by her own experience, Lightstar wrote the humorous and frank “The Cancer Misfit” for those unsure of what comes next. Even issue 10 cover star Lauren Mahon enjoyed it, writing, “Saskia’s book is a one-stop-shop of practical and spiritual goodness to help get you on track with accepting the new you and living life enlightened.”
“The Cancer Misfit: A Guide to Navigating Life After Treatment” is available wherever books are sold.