Unbreakable Spirit: Facing the Challenge of Cancer in New Zealand

Author(s): Karen McMillan

Health & Self-help

An invaluable collection of real life stories of cancer, representing a wide range of circumstances that will provide comfort and help for families facing cancer.

Unbreakable Spirit is a testimony to the resilience of the human spirit in the face of cancer. It tells the true stories of people who have survived cancer and of those who are terminally ill. It also shares the experiences of people who have had a loved one die from cancer and includes information from hospice workers, oncologists, GPs, a counsellor, surgeon and breast physician.

When Karen McMillan’s parents, both of whom had lived with cancer, died in their prime, she started her own journey to find the answers to her questions from the stories of others. How do people cope with their own mortality? How frightening is the Big C? Are treatments improving? How does cancer impact on a family? What hope is there for the future?

Unbreakable Spirit was first published in 2003, and it has helped numerous families facing cancer. In this revised edition, Karen finds out what has happened to many of the people featured in the book and updates their stories. She discusses the advances of medical science in the past decade and other changes. She also tells her own story of being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011 – a positive story of the importance of early detection through screening, and she includes insightful new chapters from her medical team.


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'I know if you read Unbreakable Spirit, you will gain great strength from it.' --Judy Bailey, Patron of North Shore Hospice.

Told with empathy, clarity and insight, Unbreakable Spirit will provide valuable support for individuals with cancer and the families and friends walking beside them.' --Australian Women's Weekly

'You'll find no victims in Karen McMillan's Unbreakable Spirit. You will discover stories of individuals who have confronted and survived cancer with fortitude, determination and humour. This reissue of a book first published in 2003, dispels cancer's dark reputation as a merchant of speedy suffering and death. Here are people of all ages and backgrounds who stare down the disease, defying the temptation to surrender, preferring instead to lead full and rich lives. The result is a genuinely inspirational testament to human strength and personal resolution. Remarkable stories and an equally remarkable book.' --New Zealand Listener

'Unbreakable Spirit is a book that I believe everyone should read as it is such an honest, well-rounded account of cancer that I can't think of another book that even comes close to it... This book is a very well written, insightful colleciton of personal experiences giving the reader a very wide ranging view of the experiences of cancer sufferers, as well as the teams behind then. In reading the book it has given me a fresh perspective, a new urge to live more and a new sense of hope that if I did, or if someone I knew was diagnosed with cancer, this book has really helped to give me a lot of information on the sort of things that will happen and a refreshed trust in the medical professionals and those in hospice who can be such pillars of support at such a difficult time. 
This is a real treasure trove of support and hope and I think that anyone who reads this will feel encouraged and bit more hopeful, that whilst cancer will undoubtedly be one of the hardest things someone goes through, the huge amount of love and support that is given can make it just that bit more bearable, and this book aids in that endeavour tremendously. Plus she manages to fit Doctor Who in which is just brilliant! A fantastic book, buy it and love it.'  --The Library NZ Blogspot


'This is not a cancer handbook. Rather it is a realistic, practical and remarkably upbeat book of more than 300 pages that could help to explain many aspects of a disease that is becoming much better understood these days. It will answer many questions, offer some hope, and most especially it should demystify cancer by bringing it out into the open and talked about, frankly and clearly.'  --Flaxroots Productions - FlaxFlower

Karen McMillan lives in New Zealand and is the author of both fiction and non-fiction. Her non-fiction titles include - Unbreakable Spirit: facing the challenge of cancer in New Zealand; Love in Aotearoa (titled Love Bytes in the UK); Feast or Famine: a New Zealand guide to understanding eating disorders, and Unleash Your Inner Seductress. She has adapted a South African book about dying for the New Zealand market - Dying: A New Zealand Guide to the Journey. She has also helped with the manuscript for Retire Right: A New Zealand guide to planning for financial security prosperity in your retirement. Her first novel, Watching Over Me, was published in the United States and is also available as an e-book. Her last book, a sweeping novel of love and war, The Paris of the East, published in April 2014 and spent four weeks on the Bookscan Top 10 Bestseller list for Fiction. Karen has a Diploma in Professional Writing and an Advanced Diploma of Applied Arts (Writing). Love in Aotearoa was short-listed for the Ashton Wylie Book Award in 2005. Previously an award-winning fashion designer, Karen worked full-time for a leading book publisher based in New Zealand for thirteen years, before starting her own business kmacPR - a company specialising in publicity and marketing for the book publishing industry. Karen has written articles for a variety of different publications and from time to time she undertakes ghost-writing projects. She also volunteers for her local hospice and writes articles that promote the life-affirming work that they do.

Acknowledgements 7; Foreword 9; Introduction 11; Barry 18; The Medical Voice 33; Mike 35; Jeremy 47; Janice 56; Carmen 63; Stan 70; Reuben 80; Mary 90; The Hospice 106; Lucy 107; Brian 117; Jill 126; Karen 133; People's Stories 149; Robin 151; Lorna 159; Robbie 166; Frances 176; Cherie 183; Graham 192; John 200; Ainslie 207; Clive 219; Leanne and Sonny 227; Mairi 238; Tony 246; Robyn 256; Susan 261; Kim 270; Sara 277; Jasmine 286; Alex 300; Epilogue 308; Glossary 312; Support Agencies 317; About the Author 320

General Fields

  • : 9780473317188
  • : McKenzie Publishing
  • : McKenzie Publishing
  • : August 2015
  • : 230mm X 153mm
  • : New Zealand
  • : August 2015
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Karen McMillan
  • : Karen McMillan
  • : Paperback
  • : Paperback
  • : 320
  • : 320