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Dear God, They Say It's Cancer: A Companion Guide for Women on the Breast Cancer Journey Paperback – October 10, 2006


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Thompson became a breast cancer statistic after a routine mammogram revealed a suspicious spot; doctors confirmed it was cancer. This author, founder of Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry at Rick Warren's Saddleback Church, experienced the emotional highs and lows, pain and fatigue, and spiritual crisis and victory that come with breast cancer. She shares her story, plus much more, in a book she envisions as "a safe place to document an epic time in your life." Much of her experience is recorded in letters to God, but she also includes the words of others. "Mentoring Moment" sections offer help and advice about the gritty aspects of breast cancer. Most touching is paraphrased Scripture offered as "God's Love Letter to You." Thompson provides both space and encouragement to journal, and her appendices provide valuable resources such as Web sites and recommended reading, as well as space for recording questions, doctor's appointments, medications, contact information and many other details often lost in the trauma and emotion. Thompson's book is a must for any Christian woman facing breast cancer. It's honest, beautiful and cathartic. (Sept. 26)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Introduction

Sharing Sister to Sister

THE LORD WILL FULFILL HIS PURPOSE FOR ME; YOUR LOVE, O LORD, ENDURES FOREVER -- DO NOT ABANDON THE WORKS OF YOUR HANDS.

-- Psalm 138:8

IF ONLY MY WORDS WERE WRITTEN IN A BOOK -- BETTER YET, CHISELED IN STONE!

-- Job 19:23-24 MSG

I'LL WRITE THE BOOK ON YOUR RIGHTEOUSNESS, TALK UP YOUR SALVATION THE LIVELONG DAY, NEVER RUN OUT OF GOOD THINGS TO WRITE OR SAY.

-- Psalm 71:15 MSG

Surviving for a Purpose

"Hi, my name is Janet Thompson. I am a breast cancer survivor."

Doesn't that sound like a recovery-meeting introduction? Many words associated with breast cancer trouble me. The worst offender is the word survivor. Survivor has become a household term from reality TV programs in which only the toughest, smartest, bravest, and most popular contestants survive the elements and win. To me, this is an unappealing concept. In heaven, the Lord says, the first will be last and the last will be first...and the sick will be well.

The branding breast cancer survivor created an internal struggle for me. My surviving insinuated others didn't -- that made me sad. Having to survive in order to live -- that made me mad. Maybe I wouldn't survive -- that made me apprehensive. Stating I "survived" implies a hard struggle -- that scared me. Survivor just didn't seem to fit me. I cringed every time someone used the word, especially when everyone felt the need to tell me stories of women who died from breast cancer, then ending with the one who survived. It was like fingernails on a chalkboard.

As I was settling in to write this book, the following press-release e-mail flashed across my computer screen: HOWARD SIGNS SADDLEBACK LEADER. Howard Publishing signed Saddleback Church (Lake Forest, CA) women's leader Janet Thompson for a book that encourages women battling breast cancer. Thompson, a breast cancer survivor, has an extensive national speaking ministry. There it was for the entire world to see -- I am a "breast cancer survivor." Like it or not, it is a fact; so I had better get used to it. I would love to tell you that happened and I now freely use the word survivor. Not the case. I continuously seek a new term to describe the ordeal because I'm more than just a "survivor"; I'm also a "winner"! You see, there is a spiritual battle going on around us -- a battle for our souls, our hearts, and our minds -- and God does not want us merely to survive this battle. He assures us that with His help we will be victorious. Wounded but not defeated. Not just surviving, implying we barely made it, but energized by running the race, staying the course, and fighting the good fight. Somehow, some way, we will be better women because of this experience.

I don't feel I just survived; rather, I believe God had a purpose and a plan in my breast cancer. He wanted my heart to break for every woman going through this. He intended for me to write this book and speak freely so others also might find purpose in their breast cancer.

It took me month s to write the first words of this book. I wanted so badly for you to have it in your hands, but every time I thought about putting my journey into words, it seemed too painful. Finally, I cried out to God to release what was holding me back and discovered that freeing power came when I wrote through the pain and despite the pain. Tears and sadness consumed me as I penned the first pages to you. But I broke through the wall as I poured out my thoughts and heart to the Lord and to you, and before long I wasn't crying anymore...well, most of the time.

This book is for you, my breast cancer sister. While I may not know you by name, I know you by heart. I understand your feelings and pain, and I want to walk beside you as only a friend who has been there can. Dear God, They Say It's Cancer is the book I longed for during my own breast cancer journey. Its purpose is to be a mentoring tool, a comfort, a companion, a journal, a record keeper, a devotional, and a source of information for you. It provides a place for you to take notes and store some of the pieces of paper you receive at doctors appointments along with treasured keepsakes. I trust it also will be an oasis of solace and comfort from the Lord's Word. My prayer is to mentor you from others' and my experiences and to wrap you in God's love.

Writing to you today, in early November, I have not yet reached my one-year surgery anniversary. This time last year, I was in limbo between finding out the biopsy was positive and waiting for the surgery date. There is no way to know in those countdown days how your life is about to change. You live in a continual state of shock. The world keeps going around, but yours has stopped. You desperately want to relive the day before you felt the lump or had the mammogram or the doctor said he thought he felt something in your breast. You pray, "Lord, could You just turn back the clock so I can replay those days and have them turn out differently?"

However, the minutes and days keep ticking by, the surgery date looms on your calendar, and you wonder what to do. Do I live life as normal? How do I prepare? It doesn't really hurt or look that bad. Do I really need to do this? Maybe it will just go away. I'll wake up relieved that it was just a bad dream.

Awakened from your thoughts by calls from the doctor's office, you are not sure which way to turn. Should you check out more information on the Web? Read more books? Talk to people? Who should you tell? How will they react? How and when do you tell your children? What about your job? What about your hair? What about your husband? You feel your life spinning out of control, filled with overwhelming decisions and public conversations about parts of your body you thought good girls kept private. Now everyone wants to take pictures, poke, and look at your breasts. Overnight, you have gone from modest to what feels like an exhibitionist!

My purpose in writing Dear God, They Say It's Cancer is to help you and me be more than women who do or do not "survive" breast cancer, but, instead, women who seek and find God's purpose in it. God never wastes a hurt. Nothing happens by accident in a believer's life. For each of us, God's plan and purpose will be different. I know my purpose is to share my God-given passion to raise the awareness of prevention and early detection of breast cancer, as well as help those on the breast cancer journey live a quality life in the secure arms of the Lord.

Where to Begin?

Dear God, They Say It's Cancer will be relevant wherever you are in your breast cancer or faith journey. This is your book to use in whatever way serves you best. There is no right or wrong way. The book starts at the beginning of your breast cancer journey and progresses through decisions, treatments, emotions, things to remember, things to forget, and tools to assist. Along the way it explores a gambit of feelings and circumstances we all share on this journey.

If newly diagnosed, you can start right from the beginning and journal as you go along, or you might choose to go to the topic touching your life that day. For those of you in the middle or maybe even several years past your breast cancer treatment, let this book be the means to work through any lingering feelings of grief, sorrow, hurt, and brokenness, as well as to remember joys and blessing. Each chapter has the following subsections:

The Topic Title -- A quote from the Lord and/or a breast cancer sister.

Dear God -- My letter to God. A window into my breast cancer story.

A Sister Shares -- A fellow breast cancer sister shares her story.

Mentoring Moment -- Lessons learned, helpful tips, encouragement.

God's Love Letter to You -- Paraphrased scriptures to personalize.

Let's Pray -- Praying through a scripture or praying with me.

Your Letter to God -- Each chapter ends with encouraging prompts to help you journal your own breast cancer story.

Journaling

The journal section, "Your Letter to God," is one of my favorite parts of this book. It is an opportunity to record a major event in your life. If this is your first experience journaling, what a great time to start! Healing often happens when we talk about it -- or write about it. Please don't be afraid or apprehensive. Journaling is simply writing down and documenting your feelings. Think of it as writing a letter to God. Not everyone understands how you feel, but God always understands, and He is eager to hear from you. No matter what faith you are or are not, you matter to God. God will fill the pages, nudging you toward helpful things to put down on paper. Maybe He will help you remember a good time to laugh about or a different way of looking at a person who said something hurtful with out even knowing it. I suggest you pray before journaling and then let your pen flow freely. Some days you will write pages; other days you won't feel like writing more than a sentence. Here's what three breast cancer sisters said about journaling:

Once you start writing, it all comes back to you. I could go on and on! This book is exactly what all of us survivors need to document this miserable journey and to remember God's faithfulness and lessons learned.

-- Darlene Gee

I kept a journal of my feelings and the things for which I was grateful.

-- Nancy Tuttle

Every day I wrote something -- how I was feeling, things family and friends helped with , especially God's special blessings. It is important to journal because you can go back and read how faithful God was and still is!

-- Linda Taylor

One of my visions for Dear God, They Say It's Cancer is that it be a safe place to document an epic time in your life. Take this book with you to doctor appointments, tests, scans, mammograms, radiation, chemotherapy, the hospital, and wherever the twists and turns of your cancer journey take you. with your book in hand, you can...

  • Take not... --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Howard Books; 1 edition (October 10, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1582295751
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582295756
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #412,484 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I have a wonderful husband and four married children who have blessed us currently with eleven beautiful grandchildren. I say currently, because we are a fast growing family. I founded the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry at Saddleback Church in 1996 and train other churches to start mentoring ministries. I wrote resources to help churches start mentoring ministries in their church: Woman to Woman Mentoring How to Start, Grow, and Maintain a Mentoring Ministry (LifeWay.

The seven studies in the Face-to-Face Bible study series are written to do on your own, two friends or mentor and mentee to do together, or as group study. Each study has a Leader's Guide.

The Team That Jesus Built is a practical, how-to book for building a women's ministry team or to enhancing a current team.

My writing, speaking, and editing ministry is About His Work Ministries.

I have had two recurrences since my first breast cancer diagnosis in 2002 when I had the opportunity to write the book I longed to have, Dear God, They Say It's Cancer: A Companion Guide for Women on the Breast Cancer Journey (Howard Books/Simon & Schuster).

There are now two more Dear God, books: Dear God, Why Can't I Have a Baby? and Dear God, He's Home! A Woman's Guide to Her Stay-at-Home Man (New Hope Publishers, March 2013.

After living in Southern California my entire life, we moved to the mountains of Idaho and love the slower pace! But the Lord continues to keep me About His Work!

Customer Reviews

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I recommend this book as a basic breast cancer reference book.
K. Jacque
This book offers practical advice, encouragement, and hope for anyone with a life-threatening illness.
Truth Pursuer
I I like the book so much that I have given two kindle copies already to a couple of women.
Mrs. F. Michelle Simmons

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The tension in the room is almost palpable. The scenario from hospital to hospital is almost generic: Several women are seated around a room, each sporting an ill-fitting gown that inevitably exposes parts of her body to total strangers. There is a duet of women holding a loud and senseless conversation in one corner while others shuffle through outdated magazines, staring at pages without really seeing them. The entrance and exit of women from the room is like so much startling punctuation.

"You can undress in here. Take a gown and leave your street clothes in this locker. You can take your pocketbook with you."

"You can get dressed and go home now."

"The doctor will be down in a few minutes to talk to you."

Janet Thompson, founder of the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry, one of those "unfortunates" who had to wait for the doctor, tells about her unnerving experience in her book, "Dear God, they say it's Cancer: A Companion Guide for Women on the Breast Cancer Journey." Though no stranger to adversity, Janet was totally shocked by this unexpected diagnosis of breast cancer and, as she relates, "a cancer diagnosis affects the whole family, and their world starts to whirl with yours." Through her tears, trials and tribulation she decided that her breast cancer was a gift from God, an opportunity to share with others and to help them along in their journey through breast cancer.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By P. Barnhart on October 31, 2006
Format: Paperback
I recently got my first book and couldn't put it down....I prompltly gave it to my neighbor that has cancer and quickly ordered several more so I would have them on hand to pass on. This book is for anyone going through the pain and disappointment of any kind of cancer....finally a help for anyone to know they are not alone. It is very thorough and well put together. I highly recommend it for healing and better health!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Truth Pursuer on January 5, 2007
Format: Paperback
Janet Thompson bravely soldiered through this deeply personal experience and now openly shares her journey with others who need to know what to expect and how to get through a season of life they neither invited nor wanted. This book offers practical advice, encouragement, and hope for anyone with a life-threatening illness.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Cheryl Martin on October 23, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is the book I wished for when I went through breast cancer treatment four years ago. It's a guide for the physical and, more important, spiritual aspects of breast cancer.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By C. Edgar on August 5, 2007
Format: Paperback
Thank you, Mrs. Thompson, for this book. It is exactly the tool a woman needs when facing breast cancer. I am a 35 year old mother of three, with a wonderful husband and family. I wasn't supposed to have breast cancer. But I do. This book has been such a comfort and a source of information to me. I shared it with my mother, who read it during my first surgery, and it brought a sense of peace to her as well. I now own multiple copies, and offer them as gifts to other women I encounter on this same journey. I wish they gave you this book in the doctor's office when they gave you the diagnosis. It has been the most valuable source of information and comfort after my Bible.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By K. Jacque on September 12, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I came across this book about midway through my radiation treatment. With other people thinking, "Well, she got through surgeries and chemotherapy; this radiation treatment doesn't seem to be all that difficult for her", the spiritual support was just what I needed.

This book is one I have purchased and sent to a friend between her diagnosis and treatment; she says it has been very helpful, especially the page format of wide margins for your own notes and list and appointment pages.

I recommend this book as a basic breast cancer reference book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By I CAN on February 1, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
While trying to locate reading material dealing with women and breast cancer I came across this title on Amazon.com, I was trying to deal with my husband having cancer and 3 months later being told I had breast cancer. This book is a a must read for any woman dealing with breast cancer or cancer of any kind... I wish I had found it earlier, when I was first diagnoised.. Between this book and Grace for Each Hour, I can only say, it will help you understand, it will make a connection for you. Janet Thompson thank you for writing this book...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By K. Bruins on November 30, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book has been very helpful in the information and experiences other women have gone through in their breast cancer journey. One must remember that every woman is different and reacts to these experiences differently, but overall, it has been very helpful in knowing what to expect in the future, while connecting with what has already been experienced and knowing someone understands.
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