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Grace Keeps You Going: Spiritual Wisdom from Cancer Survivors

By Mac N. and Anne Shaw Turnage
WJKP. 2001. 136 pp. Pb. $12.95. ISBN 0-664-22567-5

— reviewed by William V. Arnold, Bryn Mawr, Pa.

Since their own confrontation with cancer in 1973, Mac and Anne Turnage have focused considerable creative faith and energy, to our benefit, on the care of people affected by cancer. Since their first book, More Than You Dare to Ask: The First Year of Living With Cancer, in 1976, they have led countless support groups, formed and led organizations of cancer survivors to provide support and encouragement, and, in the process, modeled pastoral care at its finest.

Now, they have brought together a collection of spiritual wisdom from cancer survivors themselves — a term which includes both cancer patients and their wider network of loved ones.

The beauty of this book is that it can be used as a kind of devotional booklet, a gathering of testimonials to inspire, sustain, encourage, even delight persons who face cancer directly and those who come into the arena of care in a myriad of forms. Rather than a sustained argument by an author (or, in this case, two authors) for a particular kind of care, the Turnages provide the platform from which the survivors themselves speak. From them we learn a variety of sources of hope, admissions of frustration, surprising sources of humor and unexpected expressions of spiritual depth. Each chapter is a collection of sayings or writings around issues, such as: Meeting the Challenge, Managing the Healing Team, Strengthening Spiritual Stamina, Anticipating the End, Tasting the Victory.

A number of uses are possible for this book. It can serve as an excellent orientation for pastors and lay visitors alike — particularly those who have not yet entered into conversation with persons facing cancer. Further, it would be an excellent book to give to cancer patients and their families, who are joined in the battle to survive.

For those who are not involved in care for cancer survivors or in the center of the storm themselves, the book provides an orientation and insight into the workings of the human spirit and the spirit of God. In so doing, the Turnages both provide us with content and also model the importance of hearing directly from those in the midst of the struggle.

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