8 Steps to Getting Real with Cancer

Empowering newly-diagnosed patients and those who love them

Like a thief, cancer strikes and leaves people feeling stunned, confused, and powerless. Initially a sense of foreboding looms and options seem or may even be limited. How can patients find the power to be proactive, effective, and strong?

8 Steps to Getting Real with Cancer is a practical step-by-step guide for newly-diagnosed cancer patients and those who love them. Empowerment is the key theme throughout this book as Marianne McDonough, a breast cancer survivor, addresses the critical first weeks following diagnosis when patients suddenly face wrenching decisions, intense stress, and their own mortality.

The book is divided into 8 Steps that coincide with the hard questions patients ask themselves, such as:
• What do I know about cancer and believe to be true about myself as a cancer patient?
• How shall I interact with others, especially my family, friends, and medical providers?
• How can I select the best treatment protocol?
• How do I feel about possibly dying?
• Where is God in all of this?
• What am I afraid of?
• How do I deal with the stress?
• Do I dare hope for a future?

“Choose to Lead Your Own Journey”

What others say about 8 Steps to Getting Real with Cancer

8 Steps to Getting Real with Cancer will be valued by many readers. It is so good! This book will be a real help to thousands.”

Rev. Roger Kuhn — National Pastor of Member Care and Director of Church Relations, International Ministerial Fellowship

“I would recommend 8 Steps to Getting Real with Cancer to all people struggling with cancer: victims, survivors, caregivers, family members, and health providers.”

Katie Kinzer — Licensed Outpatient Therapist, Nostrum & Associates, Ltd., St. Cloud, MN

“I found 8 Steps to Getting Real with Cancer insightful from both the patient’s and doctor’s perspective. Under the umbrella of the Holy Spirit, Marianne caters to the spirit, soul, and mind of the cancer patient. Her journey shows it is the beginning—the dawn—of this life’s chapter.”

Charles Bryz-Gornia — MD, Ob/Gyn

Marianne McDonough

About the Author

Marianne McDonough, a freelance journalist, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012. During the crucial first weeks, she found that soul-level honesty, “getting real,” empowered her to be stronger and more proactive in her cancer journey. Now, as a survivor, she seeks to encourage cancer warriors to fight this brutal disease with confidence and freedom. Her compassion for cancer patients, especially newly diagnosed, is palpable.  (Read more)

A quick look into a few chapters of 8 Steps to Getting Real with Cancer

Cancer survival isn’t an event. It’s a way of life, and truth will lead you through it.

Click here to view 8 Steps to Getting Real with Cancer’s Table of Contents

  • Chapter 1

    Step #1: Getting Real with Yourself

    What is Getting Real?

    In most respects being human is a great adventure, but crises such as cancers, whether our own or someone else's, shake our souls to the core. If ever we need to articulate our beliefs and feelings, it's in the shocking weeks that follow diagnosis.

    Prior to 2012, two factors prepared me to embrace “getting real” as a modus operandi during cancer: Telling Yourself the Truth by William Backus and Marie Chapian and Heart Connexion Seminars taught by Dr. Paul and Susanna Fitzgerald in Kansas City, Kansas. Thanks to the former, I understood the value of truth in self talk, and thanks to the Fitzgeralds, I learned about being “100% real” via God's grace…

  • Chapter 2

    Step #2: Getting Real with Your Family

    For me, suddenly something ominous had interrupted my life, demanding my attention, changing all my plans. I felt like a teenager taking my first driver’s education lesson in a semitruck. What I needed more than anything was to learn how to navigate my treatment and find the courage to lead the fight. I knew I was entering a war zone, and it was my war. I wanted Tom next to me, but he couldn’t take over, solve it, or do it for me. He wasn’t the one going into surgery or possible chemotherapy or radiation.

    Again, I want to mention that I understand not everyone is married or has a good marriage. I get that. But my purpose here is to share my experience such that readers may transfer the basic principle of the story, which, in this instance, involves the emotional support and input of significant others in our lives…

  • Chapter 3

    Step #3: Getting Real with Your Medical Providers

    False Expectations

    Does anyone go through life without disappointments? I don’t think so. You’ve probably had your share, and so have I. Expectations, like trees in a forest, come in all sizes and shapes: short, tall, thick, and thin. If rooted in truth and reality, they provide protection and shade, but, if not, they can collapse in a storm, obstructing our path or, worse, crushing us beneath their weight.

    Little by little during my cancer journey, false expectations toppled before me. I had to identify and remove them, especially those that affected my medical care…

  • Chapter 5

    Step #5: Getting Real with God

    Confronting the Fear of Death

    Everyone experiences fear, but some fears are harder than others to identify. Sometimes fear protects us from danger, and other times it endangers us. In any scenario fear can activate us or bring us to a standstill, but when it comes to cancer, standing still is not an option.

    At first, even though I found the wherewithal to say, “I’m afraid” after the mammogram, I did not equate that emotion with an unconscious fear of death. Eventually, though, I unmasked that specific fear, and it wasn’t easy.

    For me, mortality had never invaded my mental radar before, and I had to get real with God to track it...

Chapter 1

Step #1: Getting Real with Yourself

What is Getting Real?

In most respects being human is a great adventure, but crises such as cancers, whether our own or someone else's, shake our souls to the core. If ever we need to articulate our beliefs and feelings, it's in the shocking weeks that follow diagnosis.

Prior to 2012, two factors prepared me to embrace “getting real” as a modus operandi during cancer: Telling Yourself the Truth by William Backus and Marie Chapian and Heart Connexion Seminars taught by Dr. Paul and Susanna Fitzgerald in Kansas City, Kansas. Thanks to the former, I understood the value of truth in self talk, and thanks to the Fitzgeralds, I learned about being “100% real” via God's grace…

Chapter 2

Step #2: Getting Real with Your Family

For me, suddenly something ominous had interrupted my life, demanding my attention, changing all my plans. I felt like a teenager taking my first driver’s education lesson in a semitruck. What I needed more than anything was to learn how to navigate my treatment and find the courage to lead the fight. I knew I was entering a war zone, and it was my war. I wanted Tom next to me, but he couldn’t take over, solve it, or do it for me. He wasn’t the one going into surgery or possible chemotherapy or radiation.

Again, I want to mention that I understand not everyone is married or has a good marriage. I get that. But my purpose here is to share my experience such that readers may transfer the basic principle of the story, which, in this instance, involves the emotional support and input of significant others in our lives…

Chapter 3

Step #3: Getting Real with Your Medical Providers

False Expectations

Does anyone go through life without disappointments? I don’t think so. You’ve probably had your share, and so have I. Expectations, like trees in a forest, come in all sizes and shapes: short, tall, thick, and thin. If rooted in truth and reality, they provide protection and shade, but, if not, they can collapse in a storm, obstructing our path or, worse, crushing us beneath their weight.

Little by little during my cancer journey, false expectations toppled before me. I had to identify and remove them, especially those that affected my medical care…

Chapter 5

Step #5: Getting Real with God

Confronting the Fear of Death

Everyone experiences fear, but some fears are harder than others to identify. Sometimes fear protects us from danger, and other times it endangers us. In any scenario fear can activate us or bring us to a standstill, but when it comes to cancer, standing still is not an option.

At first, even though I found the wherewithal to say, “I’m afraid” after the mammogram, I did not equate that emotion with an unconscious fear of death. Eventually, though, I unmasked that specific fear, and it wasn’t easy.

For me, mortality had never invaded my mental radar before, and I had to get real with God to track it...

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