Guys, it’s been a minute since I’ve done a book review. Pretty sure the last time I sat down and wrote one was highschool circa 1985. If I remember correctly it was a Stephen King book which I’m sure absolutely terrified me. I haven’t read any of his book since.
So bear with me as I try to articulate how much I loved The Bright Side Running Club. I’m sure there’s a proper book review format somewhere but what I’m going to give you today is how the book made me feel. Because in my book world that is all I need to know to decide if I like a book or not.
“They” tell you not to Google your medical diagnosis. Easy to say, harder to do when you are full of “what if’s” and “why’s” and “now what’s”. When I found myself at home, recovering from brain surgery, unable to do much other than watch tv and work on my rehab, I googled. For me it was helpful to educate myself. I kept it short, tried not to go down the rabbit hole, and then when there was nothing left to google I started buying books. Lots and lots of books. Add this to the stack of books I received from friends as a “thinking of you” gift and I had a literal library of everything you would need after receiving a cancer diagnosis. How Not To Die, Radical Remission, Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips, It’s Not About the Hair, the list goes on and on. I couldn’t read any of them. A) my brain was still healing, I could only focus for short periods of time and it was hard to process too much information and B) IT WAS TOO MUCH INFORMATION.
Here we are, two years after my diagnosis and I stumble upon The Bright Side Running Club (thank you Jen Delvaux and the Not Today Cancer podcast for the recommendation). THIS is a book that I could have used early in the process. A somewhat fictional story of a woman that unexpectedly (do we ever EXPECT to get a cancer diagnosis??) receives a breast cancer diagnosis and then also surprisingly joins a running club. Spoiler alert: the book is not about the running club;) Getting down to basics its a peek into what life looks like with cancer. A co-worker that might be a bit shady, a husband with a stressful career spending a lot of time away from home, unappreciative clueless kids, and a Mom that has an opinion:) Throw in some eclectic running friends and the drama of a diagnosis and you’ve got yourself an uplifting story of hope and determination that might help you feel less alone during your own cancer journey. For me the bonus was nobody was preaching to me, giving me 5 steps to cure my cancer, or trying to give advice where none was asked for. It was just a lovely story about someone walking the same road as me.
The story is taken from the author’s own breast cancer experience. My diagnosis is lung cancer so there were things I couldn’t relate to (mastectomy and rebuild, hormones, etc) but in the most basic of ways, cancer is cancer. Just hearing the words “you have cancer” automatically thrusts you into a club in which you never asked to belong.
Living with cancer presents some blessings (I know, weird right??) and some definite challenges. What people say to you or don’t say to you, your self-esteem, a transition into a new you as your body’s abilities change, managing relationships – all things that are hard to explain to others that haven’t been through it. Josie smoothly weaves these topics into the story without you hardly realizing it. I have many earmarked pages in the book that basically say ME. TOO.
Here are a few of my favorite quotes from the book, the ones that I really connected with:
“I’m getting used to this now, this need people have to share their cancer stories with me, but you never get the good ones. Never the ones where, say, someone gets cancer and it inspires them to reassess their life and go into politics and bring about everlasting world peace…no, never that.”
“Because that’s how it’s going to be for all of them now isn’t it? Not just me, BC and AC. Before cancer and after. That’s how the timeline of my precious little family will be seen from now on.”
“I’ve been trying to be cheersful, so positive, so determined that I’ll get through this, get the op and treatment done and then be back to normal, but talking to Sian makes me realize that going back to normal afterward may not be so easy. I haven’t really considered the long-term psychological cancer before now.”
“That you musn’t give up hope, or believing that you will be out the other side of this experience and richer for it. Because you will.”