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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Book Review: Mourning Has Broken by Jan Hasak



A note from Anne: Usually the books I review are Christian Fiction. However, when I attended an authors’ event at Lyon Books in Chico, I met a Christian woman who had written an account of her bouts with breast cancer. Jan Hasak impressed me. A retired patent attorney from a biotech firm, she now spends her time as a patient-advocate, an author, a blogger, and a speaker. Come back again tomorrow and you'll be able to read an interview with Jan.

A small lump in her breast changed Jan Hasak's life forever at age 43. She was diagnosed with cancer positive for the estrogen receptor (ER) and progesterone receptor (PR). This alone sounded totally new to me—I didn’t know different types of breast cancer existed, probably because I have studiously ignored the word "cancer." There’s this teensy part of me that fears if I say the word, I might catch the disease.

Jan introduced me to the world of breast cancer survivors. You might think it would be depressing, but Jan handles the subject with aplomb and humor. She takes us through surgery, radiation, chemo, and the nightmares of insurance. Even though she had to have had the same doubts and disappointments anyone going through this deadly disease must have, she maintained her faith and did her best to share her conviction that we serve a loving God throughout. Her love of the Lord shines through the pages.

I can’t help but admire the way she laid her soul out for the scrutiny of the readers, leaving herself wide open to the criticism and opposition that comes to those who profess faith in spite of the worst circumstances. It puts me in mind of all those people who lay their lives out for the Lord—Jan has done much the same in this world of scoffers.

This woman did so much research on breast cancer you would think she planned to go into medicine in addition to her law degree. The technical information she spouted boggled my mind, but she spouted with plain English—in other words, understandable even to me.

Jan also contracted lymphedema—a rare but serious side effect of surgery on the lymph glands she allowed the doctor to biopsy after removal of the cancerous lump. Once lymphedema develops, it is a permanent condition. Her left arm will never be normal again. This arm will not tolerate further needle punctures, requires meticulous skin care, and must avoid further trauma. She has to wear a full-length compression sleeve to minimize swelling, give her arm daily special exercises and massages, and in general treat it with kid gloves constantly.

If you have breast cancer or know someone who does, this book could be literally a life saver for them. In fact, if you have someone dear to you who has it, this will give you an inside track on what they’re going through. Two months ago I lost an aunt to breast cancer. Earlier this year, a friend also succumbed to this abominable disease. I suspect you also know someone or several someones who suffer with it. In Chapter 20 of the book, Jan included several suggestions of things to avoid and things to do for your cancer-surviving dear one. I admit guilt over using some of the negatives and not doing more of the positives.

Jan has graciously agreed to give one free book to a commenter on today’s post or tomorrow’s. Tomorrow’s post will have an interview with the author and include a way to contact her directly for personal questions.

God bless you, Jan Hasak. You are a candle in God’s candelabra.

You can purchase Mourning Has Broken online through Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, or Borders.