13 Must-Read Books for Cancer Survivors


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A cancer diagnosis can change someone's life in the blink of an eye. The rollercoaster of emotions that people feel can be nothing short of devastating. However, resources exist that can help you make sense of the many stages of the journey.

Overview: Our Top Picks

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Knowing that you aren't alone and that other people share your experience can offer some hope and peace as you move throughout each stage. Whether you're newly diagnosed or on your road to recovery, these books are absolute must-reads. 

Best Books About Overcoming Cancer

Stories of overcoming cancer can be just what a patient needs to read. These stories show how people have defied the odds and come out on the other side of a cancer diagnosis. If you

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1. Chris Beat Cancer: A Comprehensive Plan for Healing Naturally by Chris Wark

At only 26 years old, Chris Wark was faced with a life-changing diagnosis—stage-three colon cancer. Chris underwent surgery to remove the large tumor and part of his colon but opted to not complete chemotherapy. Instead, he focused on lifestyle and dietary changes that he believes helped him beat cancer.

Chris Beat Cancer outlines his journey and what he did to take back his health. While the book offers some insight into his personal journey, it also weaves in hope and inspiration for those who may be struggling with the grief that comes with a cancer diagnosis. 

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2. My Faith Sparkles: Memoir of a Cancer Survivor by Amy Luscher Smith

Nothing is off-limits in this up-close-and-personal look at what it really means to walk through the diagnosis, treatment, and recovery of cancer.

Amy Luscher Smith was diagnosed with breast cancer, and she quickly evaluated how this would fit into her busy life. She learned that cancer is never convenient. Through her story in My Faith Sparkles, readers can understand how cancer changes you and what each stage of the process looks and feels like. 

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3. Me, the Crazy Woman, and Breast Cancer by Stacy D. Shelton 

More than a memoir, Me, the Crazy Woman, and Breast Cancer, in many ways, serves as a roadmap to understanding and validating people who have been impacted by cancer. This is more than a grief book—it allows people a glimpse into the psyche of those who are undergoing treatment, surgery, and the trauma that comes along with life-threatening illnesses.

Stacy Shelton sheds light on what it feels like to not have a single cancer diagnosis, but two. Her fight to regain her health with courage and spirit serves as a compass for those starting their journey. It's a mixture of encouragement and inspiration and a real-life, up-close look at cancer diagnosis.

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4. No Match for Her by Travis Lee Hicks

No Match for Her is told from a father's perspective. Travis Hicks was in the worst shape of his entire life when his daughter was diagnosed with a rare form of blood cancer.

During the most harrowing time his family had ever faced, Hicks took it upon himself to dig deep and focus on regaining his health. That way, he could be more present with his family and help his daughter with her greatest hardship yet.

During this process, Hicks became a long-distance runner and was able to be there for those who needed him most. This is a truly inspiring story about the ripple effect that cancer can have on an entire family. 

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5. How I Beat Cancer by Andrea Thompson 

Andrea Thompson opens up about her road to overcoming cancer. How I Beat Cancer intends to move and inspire anybody facing a new diagnosis.

Andrea discusses new life strategies for changing your mindset even during the most challenging times. Readers find hope and comfort in these uplifting words by someone who has experienced the struggles of cancer and came out on the other side of it. 

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6. I Give Up by Laura Story 

Laura Story shares her journey with cancer in this moving book. She showcases how she relied on her faith to push her forward and surrender to parts of her journey that she couldn't change or control.

Laura takes the stance of giving up control and allowing God to guide her through this challenging time. I Give Up is a book of hope and faith that can be uplifting to religious readers. 

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7. I'm Sorry You Have to Be Here by Lois Bhatt 

Lois was 39 years old when she was diagnosed with cancer. She was a wife and a mother of two small children when the diagnosis totally transformed her and her young family’s life.

I'm Sorry You Have to Be Here showcases the raw devastation of cancer—a disease that doesn’t care whether you’re trying to raise a family and maintain a loving relationship with your spouse. 

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Best Books About Remission and Recovery

Remission and recovery can be very complicated roads. Below is a variety of personal accounts about how people's lives change through the process and what recovery looks like.

8. Radical Remission: Surviving Cancer Against All Odds by Kelly A. Turner, PhD

Kelly Turner explores the research behind radical remission and what it could mean for cancer patients. Her work focuses on how people have recovered without the assistance of modern medicine.

In Radical Remission, she recounts her travels around the world talking to holistic healers and interviewing over 100 radical remission cancer survivors. This book highlights the great unknowns of cancers. 

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9. Tough: Women Who Have Survived Cancer by Marquina Iliev-Piselli  

Tough chronicles 37 women at different stages of their cancer journey. During their most challenging days, these women express hope, humor, and a real-life approach to getting a life-changing diagnosis.

The book is intended to be a good read for patients and their families. Many readers have expressed that it may be a good gift for someone recently diagnosed. 

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10. Love Music Hate Cancer by Mark Telesca 

In Love Music Hate Cancer, Mark discusses the struggles of cancer and how music helped him through it. After two years of remission, he finally felt like he could open up about his struggle and the moments where music helped heal him.

He also touches on how his life has changed since becoming cancer-free. He hopes to offer some encouragement to those who are still struggling through their diagnosis. 

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11. 100 Days Between Life and Death by Lilia Koch 

In 100 Days Between Life and Death, Lilia Koch opens up about how cancer came into her life just as she was getting things sorted out. She also touches on the independence and newfound self she discovered throughout this harrowing experience.

She expresses how her cancer diagnosis and remission taught her to live life with intent and to the absolute fullest. 

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12. Cancer Hates Kisses by Jessica Slivwerski 

When Jessica started her journey with cancer, she worried about how to explain it all to her kids. She decided to create this simple children's book that explains all of the phases of cancer from diagnosis to treatment and recovery.

Cancer Hates Kisses is a great book to explain cancer to children simply. 

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13. Life, Cancer, and God by Paula Black 

Life, Cancer, and God is a wonderful combination of medical explanations, faith, and determination. Paula gets real about the moment she was diagnosed as well as her relationship with God and how it helped her in her recovery.

This story has it all—humor, sadness, and uplifting hope for all those who read it. 

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Books That Inspire Hope 

Books like the ones listed here can help people find the inspiration and hope that they need when it comes to managing all the emotions associated with a cancer diagnosis.

Whether you want to feel less alone or simply want to know that things can get better, each of these stories can offer a bit of light when the world feels incredibly dark. 

If you're looking for more recommendations, check out our picks for the best books on cancer for patients and family and the best children's books about cancer.

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