Title: Roads to Meaning and Resilience With Cancer: Forty Stories of Coping, Finding Meaning, and Building Resilience While Living with Incurable Lung Cancer
Author: Morhaf Al Achkar
Genre: Nonfiction / Healthcare and Wellness
Dr. Morhaf Al Achkar, a family physician and lung cancer patient, has provided us a thorough, thoughtful resource for coping with lung cancer, the number one cancer killer in the United States. This book offers guidance for those diagnosed with the disease and those supporting someone who has the disease. By interviewing thirty-nine people diagnosed with lung cancer and also including his own reflections, Dr. Al Achkar gives insights into how to broaden our perspective in order to live with the disease rather than narrowly focusing on the reality of eventually dying from it.
It’s a daunting task that Dr. Al Achkar seems to set out to accomplish: to entice patients, caregivers, and loved ones to deconstruct their perceptions and assumptions about disease and look for meaning and purpose in life regardless of suffering from sickness. He is up to the task. As well as being an MD, he holds a PhD in inquiry methodology in the social sciences, which means he knows how to ask good questions. Consequently, his book succeeds in giving us interviews that lead to frank discussions of the struggles patients endure, but also lead to glimmers of hope and even snippets of humor.
Dr. Al Achkar’s skill as an interviewer is evident, as he asks thought-provoking questions that call for open-ended responses. Therefore, his subjects seem to dig deep into their difficult experiences and give raw, unrehearsed answers. The variety of philosophies about their situations, or decision to have no philosophy, demonstrates that being diagnosed with an illness does not make everyone in that group alike. They are the same unique individuals they have always been.
There is no glazing over reality here. Instead, Roads to Meaning and Resilience With Cancer helps us face facts and deal with them as mindfully as possible. The writing is easy to follow with no confusing medical terminology. Brief explanations of the biology of the disease are easy to understand. Rather than medical science, the focus is on the lives of patients. Excerpts from the thirty-nine interviews are categorized into easily accessible sections of the book.
For those who would like more scientific or extensive information, a plethora of footnotes are provided for further exploration. For example, Dr. Al Achkar alludes to new methods that are on the horizon, which some readers may want to investigate in the other resources noted.
Although this book deals with lung cancer, the discussions about meaning, purpose, resilience, coping, and more are important topics. Indeed, they are thoughtful discussions for anyone to consider. This book offers insights for all of us, healthy or not, who seek to better understand ourselves.
In Roads to Meaning and Resilience With Cancer, Dr. Morhaf Al Achkar gives us the gift of insight into the life experiences of people who have been diagnosed with incurable lung cancer. With this insight, we can better understand the struggles of those suffering from disease. Whether you’ve been diagnosed with cancer or not, this book will help you better understand yourself. That understanding opens the dialog for connecting with others. As Dr. Al Achkar discovered in his interviews, that connection is the most important source of meaning and purpose in our lives.
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