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Unbreakable Spirit

McKenzie Publishing

Available in Trade Paperback and e-book

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.


Praise for Unbreakable Spirit:


'I know if you read Unbreakable Spirit, you will gain great strength from it.' Judy Bailey


'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


‘Whilst health professionals have trained to face the challenge of cancer, people with cancer and their friends and family do not come so well equipped. The personal accounts in Unbreakable Spirit provide invaluable insight into what people, young and old, have found helpful as they come to grips with their diagnosis, prognosis and journey as it unfolds. The powerful accounts shared in Unbreakable Spirt combine to celebrate the humanity and care that embodies resilience in the face of cancer. As such Unbreakable Spirit is a tremendous resource when you want to learn about what works well in helping a person maintain their spirit as it faces one of the greatest challenges life can


Karen is available to speak to cancer groups or at fundraisers for cancer research. Please contact her here.

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