The Unlikely Gift of Breast Cancer


Non-Fiction - Memoir
271 Pages
Reviewed on 02/09/2019
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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

The Unlikely Gift of Breast Cancer is a memoir penned by author Diane M. Simard, one which chronicles a real life experience with the disease of the book’s title. Simard confesses an incredible amount of raw personal experience in this emotive and inspirational tale of being at a mid-life stage and suddenly awakening to the reality of mortality and the meaning of life. From the journey of reflection over her first five decades on the planet to the process of treatment for cancer and what happened after it was complete, readers will be drawn into the varied emotions of Simard and those around her as she realizes many things about what she terms ‘her true self’.

The book certainly lives up to its title as author Diane M. Simard explores the numerous silver linings that surviving the debilitating and emotionally draining ordeal of stage three breast cancer had for her. As a powerful woman who has had many interesting and influential careers, Simard’s true realizations about success, motivation and inspiration come as she undergoes the cancer treatment process and considers what it might mean if her life is now cut unexpectedly short. The book is well balanced, highly emotive but also not so much that it becomes unreadable, and the inspirational qualities of her story are told in real terms which make them very engaging and almost practical to read about. Overall, The Unlikely Gift of Breast Cancer is certainly an unlikely gift of a read, and certain to inspire anyone who journeys through it.

Mamta Madhavan

The Unlikely Gift of Breast Cancer by Diane M. Simard chronicles the author's experience of battling Stage III breast cancer and how it ended up disrupting her organized and orderly life. The memoir takes readers into the heartrending moments suffered by her during her treatment protocol. She shares with readers her fatigue, nausea, and emotions that made her take stock of life and slow down. This informative memoir will reach out to many women and help them realize how breast cancer can shatter the myth that they know themselves very well until they actually discover themselves. It is a story of grit, determination, courage, mental strength, hope, survival, and recovery.

Diane M. Simard speaks about how COPE (Center for Oncology Psychology) became a critical part of her recovery. COPE was founded by her and its goal is to increase access to mental health and social services to anyone who is a caregiver to someone experiencing cancer. The community partnerships allows students who are under supervision from licensed psychologists to work with actual cancer patients, survivors, and caregivers, and other care centers. COPE also serves as a hub for clinical research and program evaluation on the psychological, social, and emotional impacts of cancer. The book is unapologetically honest and straightforward and the author shares all the details of how she battled the ugly disease that turned her world upside down and came out a winner. Her handling of the disease and her life will inspire many women who are struggling to deal with cancer.

Edith Wairimu

The Unlikely Gift of Breast Cancer is Diane M. Simard’s candid memoir that narrates her experience with breast cancer. Born in Nebraska, Simard grew up to be a successful journalist, executive and investor. As she neared her fifties, tragedy struck. She found out through an unnerving phone call that she had Stage III breast cancer. What followed were myriad emotions that ranged from shock to anger, sadness, and learning to be open about her illness. The Unlikely Gift of Breast Cancer is her honest and encouraging account of her journey. She opens up about different aspects of the process and what she felt along the way. Like other survivors, she admits that the whole experience with cancer never goes away. It changes who you are and your outlook on life.

In The Unlikely Gift of Breast Cancer, Diane M. Simard openly narrates what she felt and what she had to go through every step of the way. The emotions contained in the memoir are revealing and they provide a glimpse into what the author has faced throughout. Included is Simard's background where her childhood is covered. It reveals how her character developed through those formative years. Simard does not paint a romantic picture of her journey towards healing; she maintains a raw approach. She also includes her bad moments when she felt discouraged or angry. The Unlikely Gift of Breast Cancer by Diane M. Simard is a moving memoir that anyone who has been affected by cancer should consider reading. It is sincere and it is told with a touch of humor.