Thursday, May 24, 2012

A Long and Winding Road

"This has been a journey traversed on never-before-traveled roads with forks and dead ends and multiple switch-backs for all of us."
~Nancy Robinson, A Long and Winding Road

A Long and Winding Road: A family's intimate journey to the other side of breast cancer by Nancy J. Robinson is the touching and true story of a beautiful, vibrant woman who had a feeling that  something was not quite right.  In October of 2005, Nancy was diagnosed with breast cancer, at the age of 49.

First of all, I should mention right away that Nancy is my friend.  I met her many years ago, when our children were in preschool together.  At that time, I learned that she was a muralist (and I've learned more recently that she also writes for the newspaper).  Her youngest son, Jordan, is about a year older than my daughter, Angela, and he helped her feel more comfortable during her first months at preschool, away from me.  Over the years, I've watched her boys, Matthew and Jordan, grow into handsome, caring, and talented musicians and young men.

At the time Nancy was diagnosed, I did not know her that well.  I'd see her every so often, at school mostly, when we'd pick up our kids, and although I knew she'd been diagnosed with breast cancer, I didn't really know what she was going through. This book filled in many of the details for me.  A Long and Winding Road, published in 2012, is a remarkably honest and detailed account of her experience with breast cancer; much of it's written in the present tense, like a diary or personal journal. With an easy-to-read format and lucid prose, the book includes photos of friends (some of them mutual) and of her supportive and loving family, as well as drawings and notes by her children, all of which enhance the book.  While reading, I felt a kinship with Nancy as I learned about her deep love for music, her family, and life.  Nancy doesn't sugar-coat her experience--she's frustrated and anxious about some things, such as challenges with her health insurance regarding her care--but although she candidly expresses her feelings, she never presents her story in a whiny or "poor little me" manner.  Instead, she's strong and maintains her sense of humor and positive outlook throughout her ordeal, and consequently the book is inspiring and uplifting.  Her appreciation for life is apparent throughout the book, and she's thankful for all that she has, especially her children, and husband, Randy, a psychologist who contributes a few pages near the end of the book about Nancy's illness.  While this is not a self-help book, Nancy does offer some practical advice about how to deal with many aspects of cancer, and includes a section called "Things I wish I knew about chemo before my first treatment".  At the same time, she acknowledges that each case is individual and should be treated as such.

"I am stronger than cancer."
~Nancy J. Robinson, A Long and Winding Road

Nancy's story is one of strength and survival.  I never expected to say this, but I have many good friends and family members who've had (or have) various cancers.  My lovely friend from college, Eriko, is also a breast cancer survivor.  Last year, my husband, Randy, was treated for prostate cancer at a young age (a very helpful book for those faced with this disease is Dr. Patrick Walsh's Guide to Surviving Prostate Cancer).  And I lost my wonderful mother to cancer less than a year ago. Unfortunately, cancer seems to be quite prevalent these days, although I suppose the silver lining is that many cancers are curable or at least treatable, if caught early enough.


Nancy shared some pictures from her recent book-signing party, which I was unable to attend. (Knowing about my probable conflict with Nancy's book launching in advance, I bought a copy of A Long and Winding Road which she signed for me a few days before the party.)

You can read the first chapter of A Long and Winding Road on Nancy's website.
Thanks for visiting!  As always, your comments are welcomed.


  1. Suko, what a touching review, and how incredible that you knew the author. Cancer is also touching my life right now with the illness of several close friends and family. I think this book would not only be uplifting to me right now, but also help me to better understand what my friends and family are going through. This is a very beautiful review, and I enjoyed reading it immensely.

  2. I have 3 fairly close friends right now who've been diagnosed with breast cancer in the last year...I've learned a lot through their experiences but there's so much more. I need this book.

  3. Good to know there are many people beating this disease!

  4. This is a great and touching post!

  5. This sounds like an inspiring read and one that really hit close to home for you, not only because of your mom and hubby, but since you know the author. Cancer is such a terrifying illness. I've read a breast cancer memoir before and it scared the beejezzes out of me. This book sounds more moving and inspirational instead of scary and depressing.
    Lovely review Suko.

  6. Your post interested me a lot, Suko, because my mother is a third time breast cancer survivor. She is now 84, and is always the courageous and cheerful person she always had been. I hope all is well now for your husband and your friend.

  7. Such a touching and personal review, Nancy sounds like a strong, inspirational woman, my best wishes to her, your husband and all the countless others who have fought/are fighting this awful disease.

  8. I'm sure there are very very few people who haven't been touched by cancer at some level. I think any book that shares a way to face it gracefully and with humor and strength is worth reading. I'm sure this strengthened your bond with Nancy.

  9. Nice review. I usually shy away from this type of memoir but this sounds like an inspirational, uplifting story. And so true, cancer seems to be touching everyone's lives today. It's only a matter of time before we know someone who will need our support.

  10. Thanks for sharing this beautiful book with us,


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