Mona Shares The Companion She Wishes She Had During Cancer


On June 6, 2013, Mona, Keep A Breast Co-Founder, was told that she had breast cancer. Two years later she is here to share her experiences and thoughts on her breast cancer journey and how a surprisingly simple companion could have helped even more. Finding the silver lining in life with an illness like cancer seems hard to imagine.

This little book, called The Silver Lining, was given to me two years after I was diagnosed. Reading it now I am certain that it would have been very helpful during the process. Most of the things you read while going through treatments are on pathology reports, cancer treatments and side effects. This book was easy to read and it really felt like I had a companion right next to me who has gone through what I am experiencing right now.

Hollye Jacobs, who is a survivor herself, was looking for this kind of advice while going through her cancer journey and ended up writing this book for us survivors. All of her advice is so heartfelt, and never presumptuous. This book reminds you press pause in life, let’s you breath, and empowers you with knowledge of trusting yourself. Go for a second opinion, slow down the process if you feel rushed, she even includes a list of questions you might need at your next doctors visit. The biggest reassurance she gives is that you need to trust your instincts in whatever you do. To me, having cancer felt like I had lost all control in my life.

The best way to get control over the situation is by knowing that you are still YOU. Cancer cannot take that away.

The Silver Lining is small and could be read within 60 minutes if you read it all at once. I would suggest reading it in small doses. I was only able to read 10 minutes a day max during cancer treatments. My mind would often drift off in another world. There are so many new things you read and hear while going through cancer, that my brain felt like exploding. I was not able to contain all of this new medical information. And the big thing was trying to decompress and release the stress of it all. Many times I stopped in the middle of a sentence reading anything and just watched movies that made me laugh (I highly recommend watching” Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis “for a good round of laughs).

I loved the list of hints for talking to your children about cancer and how to help them deal with it. I have two kids, Mia, then 10 years old, and Miles, then 8 years old. For them it was really hard to understand what cancer is & how I was sick. There were no visible outside signs for me, I was just all of a sudden very sick. My daughter had a great comment, ”Mom, at least you don’t have butt-cancer, if they have to take your butt away, you couldn’t sit anymore”. So true! We actually had a bit of fun while going through my chemotherapy for 5 months. I started losing my hair, an image my kids were most frightened of.  They thought that everyone would know and I might look like an alien. I took my kids with me to the wig store and gosh we could have spent three times the amount leaving with the most outrageous new looks. It was of the lighter moments of my experience and I’ll never forget it.

As a German, I get excited when things are very organized. So this little book is divided in smaller sections, but I would suggest adding different colored tabs to the sections so you can find certain information you are looking for faster and easily.

The sentence that stuck out the most to me was:

The Silver Lining is when inexplicable tragedy creates an opportunity to take right our anger and sadness and turn them into a force for finding the positives in life. No, it is not easy. I would never suggest otherwise. What I do know for sure is that dumbfounding circumstances can be channeled into action that yields positive outcomes.”

Isn’t this true for everyone and any kind of difficult time? It is me who decides what I learn from struggle and the outlook I choose to have. Feeling sorry for myself or not seeing what I gain from the love and passionate support I received, would have only made me feel sicker.

3230Shaney jo Darden