Friday, April 5, 2013

When Defeat Is Not An Option (A Review of 'To The End & Back: Lessons Learned Through Surviving Cancer')


I never really believed in plain coincidences and time and time again, life finds ways of further reinforcing this tendency of mine.  

Very recently, someone dear to me was diagnosed with cancer and then less than a week after I received this news, a blogger friend of mine asked me if I would be open to reading his newly released ebook about his journey through cancer, and let him know what I thought about it.  I was really struck by the timing of it all and found it undeniably providential.  So before anything else, I want to say, THANK YOU, Aaron Afford.

Aaron's book is entitled "To The End & Back: Lessons Learned Through Surviving Cancer".  You might think that this is a book that details the author's physical experiences of his diagnosis (acute lymphoblastic leukemia) and that you don't want to feel any more grim and depressed about life.  On the contrary, this book doesn't really delve much into the disease itself and its challenges, but rather on the gifts brought on by the diagnosis.  As such, this is a book that echoes with so much inspiration and positivity that the wisdom shared can be applied to any life challenge. Aaron could not have been more spot on when he said that receiving a cancer diagnosis should be taken not as a 'death sentence' but rather a 'battle' to be fought.  

To The End & Back: Lessons Learned Through Surviving Cancer
I found the tone of the entire book to be undeniably upbeat, highly relatable and most of all written in a tone as if you have a close friend holding your hand each step of the journey.  Oddly, if you read this book, you may just find yourself asking, "Does this guy really have cancer??", mainly because of how positive his message is, and how you feel that the book is about you and not him.  

And this is actually one of the author's strongest messages in his book --- that in challenging times (such as one's battle with cancer), you need to look outward.  You need to find reasons to fight and that the desire to give back and look beyond yourself is actually more healing than one can ever imagine.  He explained in detail what he called his 4 P's (Peace, Perspective, Passion and Purpose) which essentially served as not only stages, but tools in themselves that can pull anyone through their personal dark tunnels.  

To anyone who is going through a serious illness, or anyone who thinks it's time to give up on life whether literally or that you've simply given up on finding the joys and endless sources of wonder in your daily journey, I recommend reading this book.  You will be inspired to focus on gratitude and strengthen that gratitude muscle once more.  Over and over, Aaron Afford challenged himself to ask and see what's 'more' and he always found an answer and a reason to continue the fight.  This guy's not giving up and we can all find some inspiration in his strength and amazing perseverance.  I suppose surviving adversity does this; it makes you appreciate little victories that are no less significant or powerful, and as you take one step at a time and see those little triumphs, you also feel more empowered. 

Life is ALWAYS worth living, no matter your challenges.  If you don't believe me, take it from Aaron.  He knows, and he definitely has the wisdom worth heeding.  

If you want a copy of his book, please click here.