This is a list of general titles that I found comforting, helpful and enlightening. There are so many books, CDs and DVDs out there that I’m sure I missed many goods ones. I guess these are just the ones that spoke to my heart and felt healing. Please, though, if you have something I haven’t mentioned here, found it helpful and would like to share, consider leaving it in the comment section for others to use.
And here’s the legalese: The media listed below are for your information only and does not constitute an endorsement. I make no warranty about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to the listed media or the information, products, services, or related graphics contained within the media mentioned below. If there is a website listed along with the books, I also cannot guarantee their reliability. These websites are not under my control; I have no control over the nature, content and availability of those sites. I cannot guarantee the suitability of any product or information found in these links. The inclusion of any link does not imply a recommendation or endorse the views expressed within them.
Pancreatic Cancer – A Patient and His Doctor Balance Hope and Truth, Michael J. Kippe and Dung T. Le, M.D. Very helpful little book offering both the patient’s experiences and the doctor’s comments and expertise, written in alternating chapters.
Patient’s Guide to Pancreatic Cancer, Nita Ahuja and JoAnn Coleman. Very helpful tips on what to ask your doctor, how to put together a healing team for you.
About Pancreatic Cancer by Eileen O’Reilly and Joanne Kelven, R.N. Very clear answers in layman’s language.
COPING WITH CANCER
The Last Lecture, Randy Pausch and Jeffrey Maslow. I guess you might say this is the man who brought pancreatic cancer into mainstream awareness. An MIT professor, Randy Pausch wrote this book about his own journey. It’s really advice about living.
Enjoy Every Sandwich, Lee Lipsenthal, M.D. A doctor’s memoir of his own terminal illness. Told with humor and simplicity, it is a wonderful book written by a man facing his own death. I found reading his about his choices comforting, knowing that it’s a journey we will all be taking. It was nice to have someone show me the path.
Cancer As A Turning Point, Healing Journeys. A two CD set. Wonderful listening to people who really know what they are talking about. I think only available now from Healing Journeys: http://www.healingjourneys.org, though you may find some copies on Amazon or possibly Sounds True.
Intuition, Cancer & Miracles: A Passage of Hope and Healing, Sara Wiseman. Another person dealing with cancer and healing, journey and discovery. Very inspiring, very helpful in its hints. It chronicles what the journey feels like. You may find a pathway for yourself here.
TERMINAL OR CHRONIC ILLNESS
Anatomy of an Illness, Norman Cousins. Illness from a patient’s perspective, one that decided to hole up in a hotel and watch funny movies and eat good food. A very refreshing take on using humor, laughter and persistence to heal the immune system.
The Alchemy of Illness, Kat Duff. I am by nature reflective and have tried to find meaning in what is happening. There is no better book for wise, introspective compassion than this book. If you are interested in the symbolism of illness, this is your book. There is also a cassette tape set that she put out called The Dark Heart of Healing. I am fortunate to have a set, but they are hard to find on the web and expensive, besides the fact that you probably don’t have a cassette player anymore.
My Grandfather’s Blessings and Kitchen Table Wisdom, Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D. If I only had two books to read, it would be these two. Told in stories by an M.D. who is truly a healer, these books will warm you and offer a healing balm. Especially good for calming your spirit. She is a co-founder of Commonweal, an organization that supports and offers classes to people with cancer.
A Life Worth Living, by Robert Martensen MD. A good book to read on how to make medical decisions. He takes you behind the scenes so you can understand how your own doctor may make decisions and how your decisions may affect your quality of life. Another book along these lines which I highly recommend is Being Mortal by Atul Gawande (see next section).
When Breath Becomes Air, Dr. Paul Kalanithi. I have not read this book yet, but it has come with glowing recommendations. A doctor writes about what it means to live and what it means to die as he reflects on his own terminal cancer.
REFLECTIONS ON ILLNESS AND DEATH
Hoping For More, Deanna A. Thompson. A Professor of Religion, Deanna was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer. Her book takes you on her journey not only of treatment, but feeling, questioning, trying to find balance. A fine book to read as someone traveling the same road as you are.
An Arrow Through the Heart, Deborah Daw Heffernan. The author had a massive heart attack at 44. She calls it the monastery of illness, that year it took her to recover. Reflections on near death and how she emerged a different person, more whole and healed of things she didn’t even know were wrong. Illness as healer.
Knitting Heaven and Earth, Susan Gordon Lydon. Beautiful reflections about dealing with tough times. The last third details her journey through breast cancer. She ponders the questions all cancer patients do. And does it beautifully. The metaphor is knitting, so if you’re a knitter, you will especially love this.
My Stroke of Insight, Jill Bolte Taylor. This is about stroke, not cancer. But it is a stroke seen through the eyes of a brain researcher. Has profound insights into our being, our healing and our connection with the universe. A book that may change your perspective on the world. It did for me.
The Yellow World by Albert Espinosa. A memoir of sorts about a young man and his long journey with cancer. Vividly portrays the experience of being in the hospital, cancer treatment, facing death and embracing life. Not a downer at all. Very life affirming.
Crazy, Sexy Cancer, Kris Carr and Sheryl Crow. Young women’s journey with a cancer diagnosis and the treatments she decided on. DVD
The Cost of Hope, Amanda Bennett. A memoir of a marriage during the husband’s terminal illness, and a look at the current health care system.
Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End, Atul Gawande. The first part of this book focuses on how aging happens to us and new methods of caring for the aged. However, the last section (pages 149-259) focuses on how we make the decisions that determine how our last years are lived. If you want to choose your own path and decide for yourself, I highly recommend this book. He’s actually written it for other doctors in an attempt to change death and dying conversations between doctor and patient. But you will learn so much from reading how he has struggled with learning how to ask the right questions and maybe his insights will help you form your own questions. Wish I’d had this book at the beginning.
THE SYMBOLIC, EMOTIONAL AND SPIRITUAL DIMENSIONS OF ILLNESS
The Alchemy of Illness, Kat Duff. Simply the best look at this subject I have found. Full of compassion, wisdom, insight.
Care of the Soul, Thomas Moore. Chapter 8, The Body’s Poetics of Illness is an especially fine reflection on the symbolic nature of illness.
Why People Don’t Heal and How They Can, Carolyn Myss.
Your Can Heal Your Life. Heal Your Body. Change Your Thoughts, Change your Life. and many more, Louise Hay. This has been her focus for her entire career. This is her blog spot about the subject: http://keeperofbalance.blogspot.com/2013/01/louise-hay-list-of-common-illnesses-and.html
The Healing Power of Illness: Understanding What Your Symptoms Are Telling You, Rudiger Dahlke and Thorwald Dethlefsen. Unfortunately, though both have written wonderful books, most are out of print in English (check Amazon just in case). I consider these two the leaders in the field of symbolism and disease. I have also listened to several people who either saw Dr. Dahlke in Germany or were in one of his online classes when he analyzed their illness according to the symbolism he has developed. Without exception, they were astounded and felt he was dead on and took his suggestions for change. Dr. Dahlke has an app available in English from iTunes called Disease As a Symbol and called for some reason on my download, SymSym. He does do online classes sometimes with The Intelligent Optimist (http://theoptimist.com), which is where I took his 6 week class. If you visit the site to find more information, go to the Events and Courses section.
Mind Over Medicine, Lissa Rankin, M.D.
The Biology of Belief, Bruce Lipton, Ph.D.
Healing Into Life and Death, Stephen Levine. Trust me, this book will help a lot.
Your Body Speaks Your Mind, Deb Shapiro. The connection between illness and the emotions that might lead to it.
Cancer/Discovering your Healing Power, Louise Hay. A pioneer in connecting what the mind believes with what the body experiences. A friend gave me this and I was pleasantly surprised; it touched me. Alternative medicine category. CD.
HOW TO COPE
The Scalpel and the Soul, Allan J. Hamilton, M.D. An M.D.’s perspective on medicine, faith, God. Lovely, not religious but spiritual. Subtitled “The Healing Power of Hope.” I think that says it all.
The Kindness Handbook, Sharon Salzberg. How to be in the moment and help to face life and death.
Lessons in Loss and Living, Michele A. Reiss, PhD. The author is a psychotherapist who counsels people going through the shock of diagnosis, living and dying with a disease, grief and loss, family dynamics. May help to make sense of the experience of cancer for both the patient and the family.
Spontaneous Healing; Integrative Oncology, Andrew Weil, MD and others. These are two of his books that deal specifically with healing and cancer. Everything I’ve ever read by him seems thoughtful and well researched.
The Heart of Healing, The Institute of Noetic Sciences with William Poole. Wonderful overview of the scientific side of alternative healing and the new avenues that are being pursued.
Care of the Soul in Medicine, Thomas Moore. Wonderful, reflective book about the medical world. It will explain a lot if you are somewhat confused by the medical establishment. It was a balm to my soul. It helped enormously in understanding why my doctors weren’t always happy with me. And why I wasn’t always happy with them.
Ultimate Healing: The Power of Compassion, Lama Zopa Rinpoche. This was recommended to me by a friend who feels this book helped her successfully weather breast cancer treatment.
A Life Larger Than Pain, Erv Hinds, M.D. An incredible perspective on pain and suffering. All of us suffer from pain at some point. If suffering is great, this book might help.
The Untethered Soul: A Journey Beyond Yourself, Michael Singer. Wish I’d had this at the beginning but I just discovered it. It covers the same ground as other books written to help you find your true self and transcend your destructive emotions, among other things. But this book gives you real ways to do it, physically and energetically. Doing as he suggests has changed the way I deal with my fear, anxiety, doubt, anger, confusion.
Self-Compassion Step by Step, Kristin Neff, PhD., CD. If you are having trouble forgiving yourself – a major step in learning to forgive, or even in facing death – I would recommend this CD. There are 6 CDs, so it’s long and there’s lots of information. But it is given in a very relaxed and accessible style; there are several very nice meditations interspersed throughout. I would use this especially if I was feeling down/too sick to cope; getting cozy in bed, just listening and letting it wash over me.
The Smell of Rain on Dust, Martin Prechtel. This is a book on grief and praise. Prechtel believes that people in western countries have a difficult time tending to their grief and this can create problems. He discusses various rituals used by tribal people to ward off the consequences of ungrieved losses. The best practice is to find ways to transform grief into life promoting beauty and usefulness.
MEDITATION AND PRAYER (see also Websites in this section)
Jon Kabat-Zinn: Guided Mindfulness Meditation Series 1, 2 and 3 . Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness. Mindfulness for Beginners: Reclaiming the Present Moment–and Your Life . Mindfulness Meditation for Pain Relief: Guided Practices for Reclaiming Your Body and Your Life
Andrew Weil: Self-Healing with Guided Imagery . Meditation for Optimum Health: How to Use Mindfulness and Breathing to Heal . Eight Meditations for Optimum Health
Jack Kornfield: Guided Meditations for Difficult Times: A Lamp in the Darkness. Guided Meditations for Self-Healing.
For Tonglen Meditation: there are many but I have a soft spot for anything by Pema Chodren. Good Medicine: How to Turn Pain into Compassion with Tonglen Meditation.
Laughter, Tears, Silence, Pragito Dove. It’s a great starting place but equally useful if you’ve done meditation for a long time. She provides a huge number of ways to meditate, a huge number of things to meditate on. These are just ways to allow meditation a space in your life without setting aside a lot of time, without going to a lot of classes, without technique. If you have never meditated but are interested in trying, this is a great way for the modern person to enter.
Christian Meditation: I have not tried these two books, but they have been recommended to me by a friend. Christian Meditation – Your Daily Practice by Laurence Freeman. Four Doors to Meeting for Worship by William Taber.
Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer Fr. Richard Rohr
PERSPECTIVES ON HEALING
Resonance: Practices for Harmonious Health and Vitality, Joyce Shiteley Hawkes, PhD. Training in states of consciousness that support health and healing.
Being Well (even when you’re sick), Elana Rosenbaum. Mindfulness practices for people with cancer and other serious illnesses.
A Year to Live, Stephen Levine. Subtitled how to live this year as if it were your last. Probably saved my sanity, if not my life. Levine and his wife made a pact that they would live one year as if they were going to die the next. I can’t begin to tell you how wonderful it is. Included are practices, meditations, exercises that allow you the chance to deal with unfinished business and gain a new perspective on your life and how to live it. A group of friends supported me during my first year after diagnosis – we worked on this book together, initially to support me emotionally, but ended up changing us all. Other books of his dealing with death and dying are Healing Into Life and Death, Guided Meditations, Explorations and Healings, and Who Dies. Helping the dying has been his whole adult career and he knows the territory.
The Way of St. John of the Cross, Susan Muto. Subtitled a guide through the dark night of the soul. Which most all of us face with terminal illness. CD
Dark Nights of the Soul, A Guide to Finding Your Way Through Life’s Ordeals, Thomas Moore. I’ll read anything by this man.
Loving What Is, Byron Katie. Can’t think of a better book to bring you to the truth of this moment. This is a healing book for spirit and emotions.
FRAMEWORKS TO HEALING
Radical Remission, Dr. Kelly Turner
Coyote Healing. Coyote Wisdom. Coyote Medicine, all by Dr. Lewis Mehl-Madrona
What Really Matters: 7 lessons for Living from the Stories of the Dying, Dr. Karen Wyatt
Spontaneous Healing, Dr. Andrew Weil
The End of Illness, David B. Agus, M.D. Written by an oncologist, his book may give you a different way to look at cancer (and other illness). His observations and advice are based on his view of the human body as a system. In his view the whole system must be supported, nourished and treated; simply targeting the cancer is not enough. I have done a lot of rethinking about illness and health since reading this book.
Deep Healing, Emmett E. Miller, MD. An exceptional introduction and deep exploration of mind/body medicine.
Facing Death and Finding Hope, Christine Longaker. A guide for caregivers, friends and family of the dying on how to care for them and support them emotionally and spiritually.
Rituals for Living and Dying, David Feinstein and Peg Elliott Mayo. Just what it says, it will provide you with rituals and words you can use to help transitions.
Coming Home, Deborah Duda. A guide to home care for the terminally ill.
On Death and Dying, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. The classic in the field of death and dying. There is an extensive list in the back of the book detailing groups and resources that support those who are grieving.
Being with Dying, Joan Halifax, PhD. She has worked with the dying for 40 years. A lovely, concrete book for facing death. From a Buddhist perspective, also good for those who are agnostic or atheist. I wouldn’t however, rule out this book for anyone. It is excellent.
Anxiety Relief, Martin Rossman, M.D., CD. I have leaned on Dr. Rossman’s for many things over the years. I find his CDs so healing and accessible. He has many other CDs on healing, cancer, stress, etc.
Cutting Through Fear, Lama Tsultrim Allione. Recommended by a friend who found this method helped her cure her illness; it describes the method called Chod in Tibetan Buddhism. Chod involves finding and facing your demons (like cancer) and feeding them to their satisfaction. I find this just a fascinating and exceedingly different point of view that had never occurred to me. I haven’t practiced this yet. Anyone out there who has, I’d love to hear a comment. CD
Emotional Freedom Practices, How to Transform Difficult Emotions into Positive Energy, Judith Orloff, CD.
Even the Sun Will Die, Eckhardt Tolle. This is a recorded interview that took place on 9/11/2001. With all the fear and chaos of that day, Tolle responded without fear, instead with compassion and calm. Cancer can cause that same upset, that same confusion, that same chaos, so his words really resonate. CD
The books of Stephen Levine. A Year to Live. Healing into Life and Death. Guided Meditations – Explorations and Healings. Who Dies?
The Good Death, Ann Neumann. Probably not the book to read if you’re in the midst of dealing with your own death. More an overview and a clear look at how we face death in America. Another view on how to talk about and deal with death.
HOW TO TALK TO CHILDREN ABOUT DEATH AND DYING
What Do We Tell The Children?, Joseph Primo, President of The Alliance for Grieving Children
Lifetimes, David Rice.
The Fall of Freddie the Leaf, Leo Buscaglia
So Much to Think About, The Mr. Rogers Foundation.
Goodbye, Everett Anderson
Lifetimes: The Beautiful Way to Explain Death to Children, Bryan Mellonie
The Invisible String, Patrice Karst
The Next Place, Warren Hanson
Duck, Death and Tulip, Wold Erlbruch
Mama Has Cancer, Chelsea Harper & Brook Irwin (initially this was a book for a breast cancer diagnosis). This is a book designed for very young children – one version for children up to age 3, one version for children 4-6. It has binder type rings and holes so parents can assemble the book at their own pace – you can add images, your own words, most anything you want. It invites interaction with fill in the blanks such as “When Mama told me about the cancer, I wondered ________.” Find more info at http://thestorybookproject.weebly.com
NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCES
Erasing Death, Sam Parnia, M.D. Scientific exploration of near death experiences (NDEs) and the mind-brain connection.
Dying to Be Me, Anita Moorjani. A memoir of one woman’s “death” from cancer, her near death experience and her subsequent complete healing.
Proof of Heaven, Eben Alexander, M.D. A neurosurgeon’s NDE. Interesting seen from such a scientific perspective. His website can be accessed at http://www.eternea.org
The Big Book of NDEs, P.M.H. Atwater. She writes almost exclusively about NDEs. Has many books on the subject. Good place to start.
Life After Death, Deepak Chopra. This isn’t specifically about NDEs but rather about how our beliefs before death may affect our entire death and after death experience. “In the here and now you can shape what happens after you die.” Very interesting and thoughtfully includes many religious traditions.
Touching Heaven, Dr. Chauncey Crandall. This is written by a cardiovascular transplant surgeon and from a strongly Christian perspective.
Love, Medicine and Miracles: Lessons Learned About Self-Healing from a Surgeon’s Experience with Exceptional Patients, Bernie S. Siegel
Getting Well Again, Creighton Simonton, et. al. Also, though Dr. Simonton is deceased, he founded a center which continues. You can reach it at http://www.simontoncenter.com
Guided Meditations for Self-Healing, Jack Kornfield, CD.
Creative Visualization and Creative Visualization Meditations, Shakti Gawain. Basics of visualization, not necessarily directed at illness.
Fighting Cancer From Within: How to Use the Power of Your Mind for Healing, Martin Rossman. He also has several CDs using guided visualization. I found it much easier to listen to CDs at first because I was short of focus during the bad days of the illness and it was much easier to listen than to read.
Staying Well With Guided Imagery, Belleruth Naparstek. She has been writing and recording visualization scripts for a long time. Her website has an enormous amount of information on using imagery for cancer (see Websites in this section), as well as many other conditions. Kaiser Permanente has used her visualizations.
Different CDs and books by Dr. Emmett Miller. His voice is probably the best I’ve ever heard for leading you into deep relaxation and visualization (his website is also listed in Websites, this section).
DIET AND FOOD
Anti Cancer, A New Way of Life, Dr. David Servan-Schreiber. This was my bible during the first year, combined with the food suggestions of Dr. Beliveau.
Foods That Fight Cancer and The Cancer-Fighting Cookbook, Dr. Richard Beliveau. He also has a website: richardbelieau.org
Diet for a Poisoned Planet, David Steinman. If you want to really drill down into what foods are safe and why, this is probably the book.
Norene’s Healthy Kitchen by Noreen Gilletz. Great recipes and hints. Focuses on diabetes, but is absolutely valuable for cancer too.
Cancer Fighting Kitchen by Katz & Edelson. Fabulous recipes
Anti-Cancer Cookbook by Julia Green, M.D. Again, great ideas and recipes.
Strang Cancer Prevention Center Cookbook by Pensiere, Osborne and Oliveria. Interesting because it gives the basic scientific theory behind each recipe – the whys and the hows of how these particular foods affect cancer in your body.
Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook, Isa Changra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. Well, I didn’t become vegan but I sure ate a lot more vegetables. This cookbook is a monster of good ideas and recipes.
Eating on the Wild Side, Jo Robinson. I needed this book. Taking research from the past few years, this book explains which produce to pick for nutritional value, which seeds to plant, how to store and cook so food retains its highest nutritional potential. Few recipes but lots of great information.