The book tells the stories of 39 patients with ⚠ incurable lung cancer ⚠. It aims to help patients, families, and healthcare providers understand the experience of living with cancer. It also invites reflections on the essential questions of meaning, resilience, and coping with adversity in life. The author is a family doctor, teacher, and researcher who is also a stage IV lung cancer patient himself. He is patient number 40
Facing one’s mortality, patients with cancer develop an urgency to find meaning in life. They struggle with the illness, its emotional impact, and the consequences of treatments. However, with time, reflection, and support from others, they develop resilience. Cancer patients are not passive. Instead, they choose different strategies to maintain and restore their health. They also leverage a variety of approaches to cope better with their struggle.
The book is for cancer patients who are tarrying at the limits of time. It is also for those who live around patients with cancer: caregivers, families and friends, and health care providers. People who struggle with other illnesses will also find aspects of their story reflected here. Also, the ones who have experienced a crisis of identity will discover elements of their story here as well. By sharing the experiences of the forty authentic individuals, the book opens the space for them to teach others.
This book is about the essence of the human experience at its limits. It is for every listener.
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About the Author
My name is Morhaf Al Achkar. I was born in Aleppo-Syria in 1983. I migrated to the United States in 2006 after finishing medical school. I also obtained a Ph.D. in Education from Indiana University. Currently, I am a practicing family physician and associate professor at the University of Washington.
In 2016, I was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. Since then, my research has focused on the experience of patients living with cancers. My first book is based on interviews I did with 39 patients who live, like me, with advanced illness. I explored how these patients find meaning, cope, and build resilience
Writing my memoir was my attempt to reconstruct my narrative. I did not want to be defined as a cancer patient nor as someone living with resilience despite cancer. I wanted to be me again: A Syrian Immigrant.
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