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Whispers in the Windstorm: A Journal of God's Blessed Assurance During My Year With Breast Cancer Paperback – May 28, 2016
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True to her lived reality, the book is not solely about her medical journey, but provides glimpses into her family life, marriage, career, mission work, and (most importantly for Danylko) faith... Though some readers may not agree with all of Danylko's viewpoints or decisions, this book provides a moving and often heart-wrenching glimpse into what it's like to experience cancer. -- Publisher's Weekly
While reading this inspiring journal, I immediately thought of all the people who could benefit from reading this, including women with cancer, caregivers, loved ones, and medical professionals... Being faced with a possibly fatal illness... allows Kathryn to remind us that we need to focus on what is truly important, and that is our faith and our loved ones. Her message of not focusing on materialistic things really shines through her journey. -- Reader Views
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Now, on to the review. Though this is primarily an account of Danylko’s journey from breast cancer diagnosis through healing, expect to be transported through some pleasant side trips. Danylko’s masterful word-paintings evoke not only images, but smells, sounds, dread and relief. With careful attention to physical detail and emotional frankness, Danylko draws us with her into the mammogram and pre-op rooms. The sense of immediate companionship will be enormously comforting for a woman dealing with her own breast cancer diagnosis. Even journal entries for the darkest months contain vivid descriptions of small pleasures: meals with family and friends; the smell of maple sap being boiled down to syrup.
Danylko emerges victorious from her bout with breast cancer, but there is a wound that remains: a heart broken by the suffering she has witnessed in her travels to places like Africa and post-earthquake Haiti. “…You can never again truly fit in because you have left your heart behind…because you know that while you spend money on some frivolous thing, others are going without food.”
If Danylko’s prescriptions for acceptable levels of indulgence lack perspective -- premium grade coffee is okay, but nail polish is not--one can forgive her, because she is honest about her own continuing struggle to establish equilibrium. She admits to being unsettled about decades spent in a corporate career whose aim seems to bear little relation to alleviating the suffering of the neediest. That is the situation in which many, if not most, in the West find ourselves – if we’re blessed to have paying jobs at all.
To establish balance, one must return to the most enduring message of the book, reflected in its title: "Whispers in the Windstorm." Whether one faces a life-threatening health crisis, or the ongoing challenge of living sanely, generously, and graciously in a world whose wealth is so unevenly distributed, there is this promise: the habit of listening and submitting to the quiet leading of the Spirit of God in your own heart will lead to the miraculous unfolding of transformation.
Thankfully for us, God and Kathryn’s friends encouraged her to journal through her cancer experience, or we wouldn’t have this story. Her writing is superb. It’s delightful prose in so many places and a magically descriptive painting at others. She has a rich and fulfilling life and a way with words for telling it. Family, faith, friends, and her honest soul-searching carry us along on the roller-coaster challenges of her battle with breast cancer.
Kathryn examines her cancer with a high-powered scrutiny, but in spite of being diagnosed with a fast growing and dangerous form of it, a week after her diagnosis she travels on a mission trip to Haiti. Missionary work has been in her blood longer than cancer ever has. Her travels to the poorer places of human existence serve as a beacon of light and hope to the power of people who serve the less fortunate.
I’m a colon cancer survivor and didn’t think someone’s breast cancer experience would resonate with me. But the book is so much more than that. It’s the journey of faith that Kathryn takes us on that makes this book such a powerful read. Her faith and trust in God is challenged by her cancer, as anyone’s would be, but it’s how she works through the challenge that is so inspiring.
Unlike many of us, myself included, Kathryn lives her faith. Even if you don’t share the same interpretation of the bible, her search for the path that God wants her to be on is inspiring to anyone who wants to walk where God leads them. I’ve learned that the road is never a straight line to God’s intended goals for us, but along the way we can find His glory in the people, places and things that we encounter on that journey. Kathryn’s walk with God echoes that at every turn and every junction.
Thank you Kathryn for your beautiful story.
As Danylko recounts her days, the reader learns how her faith has informed her choices in raising her children, engaging in the world, and in reaching out to help others. But faith does not guarantee an easy life - Danylko shares her fears, the pain and challenges of the treatment, and the difficult choices facing her and other cancer patients, where the consequences of each choice may mean life or death.
This book is based on Danylko’s journal entries, but they have been edited to read much more like a story – and this makes it very readable. The book is full of beautiful details: the smell of her daughter’s home baked treats, the peacefulness of family walks through the snowy woods, the love projected from a group suddenly surrounding Danylko with prayer, and those moments when she knows in her heart that God is providing a message directly to her. While cancer is a primary character in Danylko’s life, it does not define it.
The only criticism I would have for the book is that Danylko has very strong views on practicing faith, raising a family and prayer that not all readers may agree with. That said, it is also this quality that helps readers understand her choices through the book.
Having lost many family members to cancer, I appreciated the honesty of this memoir and its emphasis on the strength and gifts possible when you allow yourself to rely on friends, family and most importantly, God. I would certainly recommend this to anyone who facing a similar journey or who is supporting someone through cancer.