Every Day Is a Gift: A Couple's Cancer Journey
by Margaret P. and John F. McEwan

"Experience teaches us that when things are going along smoothly, you can expect some challenge to be put in your path."

When Margaret and John McEwan received the news that John had cancer, they had been married 36 years and had three children and two grandchildren. In the next five years, more grandchildren would be born, and the couple would face wildly escalating hopes and predictably discouraging sorrows because of his illness. Both were forward-looking, positive people who believed that “every day is a gift.” They dealt with their situation within an orderly, optimistic framework. They shared details with their children, omitting the possibly short—six months to a year—lifespan prognosis which John vowed, successfully, to override. The time they had together included lengthy and painful treatments, good, better, and worse news, and many short but memorable vacations. John continued to work almost to the end. Margaret has since founded an award in his name in the school system where he was employed, with the inspiring designation embodying his lifelong ethos: “Do What’s Best for Kids.”

Though John passed away in 2013, he is named as the co-author of this beautifully organized chronicle because much of the narration comprises letters he wrote, mainly to work colleagues. Margaret also wrote more personally to family and friends. All these epistles underpin the accompanying recollections of John’s illness, battles, and decline. Such a tale must necessarily be challenging, indeed painful, to compose, but Margaret’s purpose is twofold: to share with others who might experience similar trauma, and to serve as a tribute to John who strongly felt that we can “choose our attitude,” and who chose to take a positive approach to devastating circumstances. Embedded in the couple’s story is a storehouse of practical advice regarding medical treatments, advance planning, and other wise counsel that can benefit readers no matter where they are on the road of life.

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