Customer Reviews: Perseverance: True Voices of Cancer Survivors
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on August 24, 2009
Every once in a while we run across little gems that are so special that they change our lives forever. Carolyn Rubenstein's Perseverance is one of those rare and special jewels. I can't remember the last time I have felt so passionate about a book. The stories are bright, funny, inspirational and most of all full of life. I love each and every person I met in Perseverance. Their stories dance off the pages daring you to walk in their shoes, go through what they went through, and find the joy in life. Put down your coffee and pick up this book. You will never be the same
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on January 4, 2010
How would you cope if you were diagnosed with cancer as a child or teenager? A cancer diagnosis is daunting for anyone, but how much harder can it be for a young person? This book contains the stories of 20 young people who have battled with cancer. Sadly, they have not all won their battles and for some the battles continue.

Each of the twenty contributors tells the story of their diagnosis, of their subsequent trials and tribulations and the unique challenges that they each have faced. They share, too, their triumphs and their motivations.

`Cancer, or having cancer, doesn't define you, but it does let you know who you are and what you're capable of. And you soon realize that you are capable of so many great things.' Without exception, each of these young people has overcome great odds in order to achieve important goals. And that is one of the key messages for those of us reading their stories: to make each moment count. Or, as one of the contributors wrote: `Life is brief without guarantees. Procrastination may lead to regret; the only day you have to enjoy is today.'

There is sadness in these stories: cancer treatment is frequently invasive and painful, has its own rules and protocols and is not always successful. Friendships are made and broken, family members suffer. No-one wants cancer in their lives. And yet, these young people have managed to persevere and to live lives that may be constrained by cancer but are not defined by it.

`Make every day a good day, every moment a good moment.' These are indeed words to live by.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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VINE VOICEon May 17, 2011
Incredible, inspiring and courageous. I would not know how else to describe this book, but recommend it for anyone who has had cancer, knows someone who has or just anybody. I survived a type of cancer, and can say it is life changing but I was in my 30s. Being so young has to a challenge I did not experience. Thank you to Carolyn and all the young people who shared there story and continue to be strong every day.
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on August 24, 2009
Carolyn has done an extraordinary job in capturing the essence of life and determination in each of the 20 individuals. The individual stories are such that every reader can find a thread either in her / his experience or a friend's or relative's experience with cancer. At this age, cancer does not come from the result of earlier life choices but rather comes without warning or discretion. From the stories, you can tell that Carolyn has shown personal interest and desire to channel the feelings of the cancer survivor to the reader. As you open the book and scan the first pages, you'll find that one of the individuals did not live to see the book come to reality, but Carolyn has ensured that his story lives on for others to draw inspiration.
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on August 24, 2009
Sometimes when we go through a difficult experience, we are not focusing on how difficult it is-- we focus on getting through it. This book really takes you through the emotions one experiences throughout their battle- before, during, and after. This book would not be possible without Carolyn-she is truly amazing, simply put.
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This is a collection of the stories of 20 young people who have battled cancer - all types of cancer from leukemia to brain, lymphoma to ovarian. The youngest was diagnosed at the age of 2, the oldest at 20. All but one of them are still alive.

This is a tremendously inspiring book to read, in part because (as Rubenstein points out), each of the people interviewed believes that cancer is has been a highly positive force in their lives. Many spoke about having a fresh appreciation for life or how their religious faith had deepened because of their experience. I was also struck by how many had subsequently made career decisions to go into medicine, psychology or another field working with pediatric cancer patients. "I see it as something that has set me on the path I am now on, a path towards helping others" writes one. "This is a bonus life - there's nothing for me to lose", writes another,

However parts are also difficult read, because the experiences that these kids - and their families - go through are not ones that you would wish on anyone. Again and again they talk about the isolation of cancer, with friends not knowing how to react to them and not being able to attend school or go to parties like other teens. Invasive and painful treatments with hideous side effects like memory loss or blistered throats. Hair loss - "I'd just learned to style it the right way", one girl ruefully comments. Doctors who seem indifferent to the pain that they subject patients to ("Have a nice day" a doctor tells one patient after delivering his diagnosis). And even once the cancer is in remission, many suffer ongoing depression and survivor guilt.

For the most part Carolyn Rubenstein made the decision to let each story be told in the patient's own words, and this allows their unique personalities to come through strongly. Several developed a dark sense of humor as a coping mechanism ("I looked like I had a failed execution by guillotine" one recalls after surgery on her neck). Another becomes addicted to analyzing medical treatments on the TV show Gray's Anatomy.

This book would be extremely appropriate for anyone suffering from cancer or close to someone who is - although I felt its appeal is broader than that. After reading it I got much more concrete ideas of tangible things that I could do to help someone going through an experience like that: connecting them with charities that can support them, keeping in frequent contact, supplying them with plenty of good books (particularly autobiographies of people who had persevered through hardship). Most importantly, it gives you hope that good things lie ahead at the end of this journey.

The book concludes with a list of American charities that you may choose to donate to or become involved with as well as a list of resources for families in the US affected by cancer.

The author incidentally is only 24 and sounds pretty remarkable herself.

This review is based on a copy provided for reviewing purposes, but the opinions above are genuine and based on having read the book.
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I had first read PERSEVERANCE by author Carolyn Rubenstein about 2 years ago when I was preparing for an interview with her. It wasn't until I read it again earlier this year that I realized I had yet to post a review on Amazon. Because of the message and the way it made me feel, I wanted to make sure I did it this time.

Perseverance speaks to all of us exactly where we might be in life. Carolyn talks with young people who are able to share their experiences of living with cancer and its possibilities as well as realizing their own possibilities. It's a book that reminds us that no matter what we are going through or where we are in our lives, we can use the power of our faith and that ability to move forward that is inside of us to do remarkable things.

Carolyn learned this years before even beginning the book, and I think what she has done in giving us these powerful testimonies is a way for us to realize that we might not have it as bad as we might believe. Though all of the stories of fighters of cancer don't end the way we would like, they are still reminders of making the most of each day and not allowing one facet of our lives to define who we are.

Another thing that Carolyn does is incorporates quotes of inspiration and action that should remind the reader that just as difficulties and challenges are nothing new neither is hope. We can't give up when things seem to be at their worst. That is the time we fight harder, knowing that we are not in this by ourselves.

Written in the individual voices of the survivors we get to know in the book PERSEVERANCE does the job of speaking to the heart of all of us and letting us know that each day brings the ability to make a difference.
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on August 26, 2009
Purserverance is a truly remarkable book. It is full of wonderful first hand stories of amazing young men and women and their triumph over cancer. It moved me to tears and I will remember it forever and it only makes my support for further cancer research and preventative medical care that much stronger. These young people have amazing spirits, attitudes, and endurance to reach into their inner strength and become strong survivors. They are truly an inspiration to everyone, but especially to family members who go through the experience with them, to have captured their story forever on paper has a huge impact and will help people to never forget the experience and feelings. I encourage everyone to read this book and support Carolyn's efforts to provide scholarships for these very remarkable and deserving young men and women. You will not be sorry you read this book.
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on August 26, 2009
In Perseverance, Carolyn Rubenstein does a phenomenal job of bringing into the reader's life a perspective we all could benefit greatly from. Whether you are down and out and need some inspiration or not, Perseverance delivers an enhanced meaning of life as you previously knew it. The detailed accounts of each cancer survivor have a unique way of bonding you to an individual you've never met. With cancer a disease as widespread as it is, connecting with Perseverance is unavoidable. I recommend if you're considering this book for purchase you do not's a must-read, in every sense. Thank you, Carolyn, for dedicating so much to making these 20 stories and the heroes who lived them part of my life forever.
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on October 2, 2009
This book is one of the most inspirational collection of writings I have ever read. Each individual's story brought out a range of emotions in me, from laughter to tears, and joy to sorrow. Not all of the stories have a "happy" ending, but what the reader takes away from them is a sense of strength, courage, and wisdom. "Perseverance" is the perfect title for this book; it completely encompasses the true meaning and idea focused on by the author. Each and every story touched my heart, and inspired me to try and live my life with a more positive and open attitude. Please read this book.
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