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It's Not About the Hair: And Other Certainties of Life and Cancer Paperback – August 19, 2008

5 out of 5 stars 53 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Jarvis is an ordained minister with a bawdy sense of humor, and a breast cancer survivor who believes in telling it like it is. She's probably not everyone's cup of tea, especially if you believe certain topics are meant only for a doctor's office and/or the bedroom. Still, don't pass this book by without giving it a go-if you have breast cancer, it might be exactly what you need. A chaplain at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, Jarvis cares deeply about others, and for all her fast talk, she's a listener. The accounts of other people's struggles are among the most moving in the book. She is also guided by a spiritual sensibility that transcends organized religion. But most of all, she's walked the walk. Diagnosed with breast cancer at the same time as her mother was, she underwent a mastectomy, chemotherapy and an implant with courage and, yes, a sense of humor that signals a deep appreciation of life. The title comes from patients whose first question after being diagnosed with breast cancer often is, will I lose my hair? And Jarvis, because she is truly wise and compassionate, understands what they are really asking: will I lose my life? (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"No matter what your belief system, Jarvis is a breath of fresh air in the congested world of health memoirs." --Library Journal, September 2007

"You don't need to have experienced cancer to appreciate this book--not by a long shot." -Reader's Digest, July 2008 --Reader's Digest

"It's Not About the Hair, And Other Certainties of Life & Cancer chronicles {Jarvis'} journey through a masectomy, chemotherapy and remission with the signature wit and sarcasm beloved by her patients." --Seattle Magazine, October 2008
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 258 pages
  • Publisher: Sasquatch Books; Reprint edition (August 19, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 157061573X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1570615733
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #216,010 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By K. Paul on August 19, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I just finished reading an advance copy of "It's Not About the Hair" and I'm blown away. There is so much wisdom and truth packed between the covers of this book! Debra takes us from her biopsy to surgery, chemo and beyond, with love, honesty and courage--plus she is funny, funny, funny.

This book is much more than the garden-variety cancer memoir, because Debra is an oncology chaplain at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, where her job is to listen to, care for, and counsel cancer patients every day. When she was diagnosed with breast cancer, her friends said "Why you?" but Debra said, "Why not me?" and walked into the experience with her eyes and her heart wide open. In the book, she lets us into her unique relationship with God, which is by turns moving, inspiring and even irreverant. Debra spots God in surprising places. As I read, I pictured God saying, "You go, girl!"

Throughout her story Debra weaves thought-provoking insights about her patients and her co-workers, her caregivers and her marriage. She taught me how to better befriend anyone with a life-threatening illness. If you have cancer, have had cancer, love someone who has cancer, or if you are a caregiver, you'll discover a real gem in "It's Not About the Hair." Buy this book.
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Format: Hardcover
I doubt that I could write a better review than Kathryn Byrd's; it captures very well why Debra Jarvis' book is so powerful. Debra's down-to-earth style, while very engaging, has depth and nuance. She hits the target in such a way that we can understand the complexity of her experience - the simultaneous pain and humor - and almost experience it with her. She talks about issues that most people - and books - don't even mention, such as the issues around cancer and sexuality, and does so in a way that real people can relate to.

Best of all, it's a page-turner! No, really! We want to know what happens next, and how is she going to handle it! And the minute we start to sigh with the enormity of what she is going through, she makes us laugh, and see how it's possible to find balance and humor and meaning in the most challenging situations.

This is a wonderful book. Get it! Send copies to friends!
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Format: Hardcover
Witty, wise and thoroughly engaging, Debra Jarvis tackles the weighty topics of illness, identity, spirituality and death, and yet manages to leave the reader light and uplifted. This is an authentic and (clearly) uncensored account of life with illness, and as a cancer survivor, I found something powerfully familiar on every page. Thank you, Debra, for showing the world that there is plenty of humor, and even hilarity, to be found in the cancer experience! "It's Not About the Hair" turns our collective fear of cancer and death on its head, and redefines what it means for our life stories to have a happy ending.
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Format: Hardcover
just want to read an inspiring, enlightening book, you must read this new memoir by Debra Jarvis. She takes an uncomfortable, scary subject out of the shadows and deals with cancer--both at work and in her own life--in a frank, matter of fact, honest way. She shows that cancer need not be a "hush hush" topic for people living with it, or for their loved ones. The book will make you laugh and cry and feel like Debra is your friend. And while Debra is a religious person, you'll never feel like her take on spirituality is heavy-handed or being forced on you (for example, she calls her God "Mr. Martha Miyagi"--read the book to find out why).

An extraordinary book written by an extraordinary woman. You should read it.
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Format: Hardcover
You won't find any religious or feel-good platitudes in Debra Jarvis' It's Not About the Hair. Yet, it is an intensely inspirational book. As a chaplain at The Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, the author faces her own cancer diagnosis and treatment with candor, and humor. Sparked with deep insight this moving and often hilarious account of her journey is a rich read! Jarvis shares stories of her ministry to cancer patients who in turn minister to her. Sometimes silly, sometimes sad this book explores the life-changing diagnosis of cancer. (No skipping to the hysterically funny sub-heading :" Like a Virgin" in chapter 10.)
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Format: Hardcover
Loved the book, love the author even more. Be prepared to feel every emotion there is while laughing so hard your gut seizes up! This is the kind of book that you start to read then don't put down until you realize you've read all the way through to the Acknowledgments section. 5 stars!

It's Not About the Hair: And Other Certainties of Life and Cancer
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As an oncology nurse, I appreciated Ms. Jarvis' candid yet humorous rendering of her experiences. Her wit is evident on each page, even in the more telling personal episodes with her patients and during her own battle with cancer.

There are no major theological breakthroughs here (those seeking deeper spiritual answers may need to look elsewhere), but that was not the intent of her book. Instead, she brings the reader through a devistating chapter in her life, describing her struggles and her often unique point of view. (I will never again think of cleaning the toilet in quite the same way.) The profound impact of cancer is not diminished, and yet she never fails to find something to laugh about.

This book is a must-read for anyone who cares for patients with cancer, or those who are facing it themselves.
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