“While we had developed an extraordinary relationship, we had never been extraordinary people. We were just two flawed humans, who eventually discovered what it was to put the other first.” – Mary Potter Kenyon, Chemo-Therapist, How Cancer Saved a Marriage.
Isn’t that what it’s all about? Discovering how to put the other first? Two flawed people committing their lives to each other and then hopping into life full-force, sometimes completely missing the planks in our own eyes while trying to dig the sawdust out of our mate’s. Anyone can have an ordinary-survival-mode type of marriage. It is only when we successfully grasp the idea of putting the other first that our relationship becomes extraordinary.
This 167-page book is a beautifully woven story of the move from ordinary to extraordinary.
I knew bits and pieces of Mary’s story before picking up this book. I knew that she watched her mother die too young of cancer. I knew that she herself has struggled with many physical ailments. I knew she buried her precious grandson Jacob at the tender age of eight. And I knew that she lost her husband.
I don’t intend to ruin the book by sharing David’s death (in fact I think she shares that pretty early on.) I share it because it shaped the way I read this book and I think may be the reason that I had to keep kleenex close by as I read. David didn’t die of cancer. In fact, he lived cancer free for 5 years before complications after a heart attack took him from Mary.
But as I read their struggle and their beautiful story of finding a renewed love in the midst of the ugliness of oral cancer, I kept thinking, “Why was he taken from her? Why, after they made it through so much, did their time get cut short?” But I know that God’s ways are not man’s ways, and sometimes you have to trust him even when your this-world-focused mind thinks he might have made a mistake.
Never having been intimately involved in a cancer journey, I don’t know if I can give a completely accurate assessment of how this book can be helpful to someone going down that road. But I can say Mary does not shy away from showing a true picture of what goes on behind closed doors in a home where cancer lives, and if my family was forced to go through similar circumstances, I would want someone like Mary to be real with me.
She was not only forthright with daily life during that time period, but also with physical intimacy. A couple times I thought “TMI, Mary. TMI.” 😉 But then again, wouldn’t I want to know how cancer can affect the libido, if cancer were to hit home?
One of the things I most appreciated in this book was the little instances of God’s provision and how Mary recognized them as such. Over and over, this financially strapped family of 10 (yes 10, that’s not a typo) was blessed in some small way (and sometimes big way) that allowed them to get through something they were not capable of getting through on their own.
Lastly, I found my breath caught in my throat as I read Mary’s struggle with prayer.
“I couldn’t even pray. What would I pray for?…I felt awful not being able to do something as simple as praying…”
Having just studied Romans chapter eight where Paul speaks of the Spirit interceding for us in our weakness, I thought, “this is a picture of that.” Mary felt inadequate for not being able to pray, but I am confident that in her weakness, the Spirit was doing what she couldn’t.
So there you have it. I could say more. Or maybe I should have said less 😉 But this is an excellent book. It’s a cancer story. It’s a love story. It’s a struggling-to-get-by story. But what I saw weaved through every piece is that overwhelmingly it is a God story. One well worth getting comfortable in your favorite chair and reading over a cup of coffee (probably with a box of kleenex).
This book will be available for purchase on April 8, but I have a signed copy to give away before you can buy it. Just leave a comment, and you’ll be in the drawing. It can be as short as “hey, I’d like that book.” In the past, not a lot of people have signed up for my book giveaways, so your odds of winning are probably very good 🙂
If you are not yet convinced to read this book, check out the trailer on youtube.
If you don’t win it, you can head on over to Amazon and pre-order it.