I began reading "This Time's A Charm" by Donald A. Wilhem soon after receiving my signed copy from the author. I was not sure what to expect ...hope, inspiration, or a one of a kind turbulent ride? What I did find was a journey of incredible detail through the eyes of a four time cancer survivor. I laughed many times, and cringed a time or two. But by the book's end I understood more than I ever imagined about living life with lymphoma. Don's back cover humor completely says it all: " WARNING- STEEP BLUFF, 450 Foot Drop To Lake Michigan. Return climb is extremely exhausting. DO NOT RUN. DO NOT THROW ROCKS."
First let me say this is not your average hope and inspiration book. Reading Don's story I felt as if I were indeed surviving boot camp... grateful for the experience, thankful for the insight and very aware by the time I was through reading every survivor's dance (with the beast) affects each of us differently. Simply put, we have our own battles to wage and scars to carry.
I have to be honest with you as I read through Don's 115 page story I found his story telling to be a very raw, uncut and uncensored account of his battle with lymphoma . Don is explicit, as he is sometimes brash in the writing of his experiences. Don encourages the reader to "go all in". Don does not apologize nor does he taken any prisoners. He simply tells it like it is! In his closing arguments Don quotes someone by saying, " There's two types of people; survivors and die-ers". Though Don does admit this summation is a bit callous he says his view point here is to encourage the reader to get livin.
Don credits his (PMA) Positive Mental Attitude as he calls it with saving his life. As a breast cancer survivor, I did indeed relate to a few of Don's own cancer experiences. I understood his meaning of the " gold standard of treatment" since I have faced the same "lovely bright red chemo called Adrimaycin" as Don refers to it in his book. I also understood some of the anger Don expresses very vividly as I tried to put myself in his shoes with his doctors and his road to remission. Don's words are quite startling, to say the least, shaking his reader up. I could not help but feel as if I had hitched a ride on the cancer express along with Don. Through each pain staking mile Don allows his reader to feel the sting of his anguish, the humorous affects of Ativan (this I can relate to as well) and the pain of his fourth blow... hearing the word "cancer" and "recurrence" in the same sentence.
As his story moves forward Don speaks of falling into the "victim's role" as he faced many challenges from his first chemo, the loss of his first marriage, to overcoming drug use. His pain, grief, anger and depression were apparent as he described each and every step of his journey. I found my heart breaking as I came along with Don through his very open and personal journey. As a woman of faith I was taken back by how Don did not rely on faith at all, but on his own know how, as a self-made man. In the final pages of Don's story he speaks of his desire for others going through this same battle to "know that cancer was not a death sentence. They needed to hear my story, told from the patient's perspective, loaded with emotions that most books don't reveal."
As Don brings his last chapter to a close, he goes through eleven steps he not only lives by but also advice he has given to others along the way. Don closes with this final appeal, " It's not whether you get knocked down, but whether you get back up."
As I mentioned before, Don is a four time lymphoma cancer survivor. This is a major feat in and of itself, having battled the beast four times in five years. Fellow survivors can relate to the fears, the sadness and the humor we gain along the road. Surviving both the ups and downs of cancer's journey is a life changing experience. Don has done so not once, but four times, coming through the experience with his own tale to tell. In closing Don speaks of his new love and sweet wife (Amy), the life he is living now (with the added bonus of a snowmobile and a boat) and how often others encouraged him to write a book. After all Don says,"This Time's A Charm! Does it really matter how many times it takes to beat something like cancer? "
This Time’s a Charm
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