Books That Deal With Cancer | World Cancer Day | BOOK LIST

4th February is marked as World Cancer Day to bring awareness about cancer and to encourage it’s prevention, detection and treatment. Personally, this was something I always considered to happen to other people, not me and definitely not to anybody I know. I lost my Uncle to Cancer a few years ago and even today when my Mom talks about him, her voice starts to crack and her eyes start to moist. He was a man full of life, loved to decorate his house and danced really well. His death was sudden but when he comes up during random conversations, we always circle back to wondering if we missed the signs. He definitely was complaining about constant back pains and considerably lost a lot of weight but not in the wildest dreams did we imagine such a healthy person to be detected with cancer. The last few days were heartbreaking and some days it only feels like yesterday, I was talking to him about those college parties and football games he loved.
Hence, I really wanted to start a list for all the books that deal with cancer.

Saying that, I have only mentioned the books I’ve read and recommend. However, I shall keep updating my thoughts and adding more books as and when I do.

//{LAST UPDATED ON : 01/02/2021}//

FICTION : Young Adult

The Fault In Our Stars


Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is award-winning author John Green’s most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love.

The most popular of them all in the “Sick – Lit” sub-genre. This has a book adaptation in English with the movie name same as the book and in Hindi as “Dil Bechara”. It’s popular for a read on and it made me cry and think about Hazel and Augustus for days.

“The world is not a wish-granting factory.”

If you haven’t heard of this book yet, I assume you are living under a rock.


Me and Earl and The Dying Girl


Greg Gaines is the last master of high school espionage, able to disappear at will into any social environment. He has only one friend, Earl, and together they spend their time making movies, their own incomprehensible versions of Coppola and Herzog cult classics.

Until Greg’s mother forces him to rekindle his childhood friendship with Rachel.

Rachel has been diagnosed with leukemia—-cue extreme adolescent awkwardness—-but a parental mandate has been issued and must be obeyed. When Rachel stops treatment, Greg and Earl decide the thing to do is to make a film for her, which turns into the Worst Film Ever Made and becomes a turning point in each of their lives.

And all at once Greg must abandon invisibility and stand in the spotlight.

When it comes to “Sick Lit” aka books dealing with chronic or terminal illness, the books usually tend to be sad and structured to make you cry. Me and Earl & the Dying Girl, literally made me laugh out loud. It’s witty and has an exceptional underlying theme of making the best of the time you have. After all, you never know when is the last day for you or for the people you love.
The plot and the characters are realistic too. Also, it does end up making you cry after all but this hits you right in the feels after all the funny moments sprinkled all over.
If there is one book you have to read book from this list, it’s this one.
P.S : This has a book adaptation too.

A Monster Calls


Conor has the same dream every night, ever since his mother first fell ill, ever since she started the treatments that don’t quite seem to be working. But tonight is different. Tonight, when he wakes, there’s a visitor at his window. It’s ancient, elemental, a force of nature. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor. It wants the truth.

Patrick Ness takes the final idea of the late, award-winning writer Siobhan Dowd and weaves an extraordinary and heartbreaking tale of mischief, healing and above all, the courage it takes to survive.

This book took me by surprise. It’s about a child grieving for his mother that is suffering from cancer. Even though a middle grade book, this would intrigue adults equally. When I read this earlier, I imagined a literal monster but now this monster is more abstract than ever. Personally, the representation of grief, loss and that helpless feeling is on point.

Five Feet Apart

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Can you love someone you can never touch?

Stella Grant likes to be in control—even though her totally out of control lungs have sent her in and out of the hospital most of her life. At this point, what Stella needs to control most is keeping herself away from anyone or anything that might pass along an infection and jeopardize the possibility of a lung transplant. Six feet apart. No exceptions.

The only thing Will Newman wants to be in control of is getting out of this hospital. He couldn’t care less about his treatments, or a fancy new clinical drug trial. Soon, he’ll turn eighteen and then he’ll be able to unplug all these machines and actually go see the world, not just its hospitals.

Will’s exactly what Stella needs to stay away from. If he so much as breathes on Stella she could lose her spot on the transplant list. Either one of them could die. The only way to stay alive is to stay apart. But suddenly six feet doesn’t feel like safety. It feels like punishment.

What if they could steal back just a little bit of the space their broken lungs have stolen from them? Would five feet apart really be so dangerous if it stops their hearts from breaking too?

This has mixed reviews and is often considered a ” Fault In The Star rip-off” . It is definitely similar. No doubt!
But… It’s equally touching and heartbreaking. I guess personally, I will never get enough of this specific type of star crossed lovers. It’s not exotic but dying or grieving someone’s loss is inevitable and this is the most common experience in the world.
Similar to most of the books that deal with such topic , this too is heartbreaking and made me cry.

P.s – This is adapted into a movie as well.


When Breath Becomes Air


At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. And just like that, the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated. When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a naïve medical student “possessed,” as he wrote, “by the question of what, given that all organisms die, makes a virtuous and meaningful life” into a neurosurgeon at Stanford working in the brain, the most critical place for human identity, and finally into a patient and new father confronting his own mortality.

What makes life worth living in the face of death? What do you do when the future, no longer a ladder toward your goals in life, flattens out into a perpetual present? What does it mean to have a child, to nurture a new life as another fades away? These are some of the questions Kalanithi wrestles with in this profoundly moving, exquisitely observed memoir.

This is a memoir and it is the most recent book I’ve read from this list. One word – Heartbreaking!
This was heartbreaking because this is someone’s reality.
The epilogue gave me goosebumps. He was racing against time, finding the meaning of living while dying, feeling sorry for the situation he found himself in, accepting it and ultimately helping people value those fleeting little moments when they can…

“You can’t ever reach perfection, but you can believe in an asymptote towards which you are ceaselessly striving. It was arduous, bruising work, and he never faltered. This was the life he was given, and this is what he made of it. When Breath Becomes Air is complete, just as it is.”

Paul died before finishing this book and with him died a future he could have had. His family and his wife Lucy was with him all throughout his journey and they made this happen book see the light of the day for which I’m forever grateful. To be honest, Lucy and Paul have such a touching love story.
To say the least, this is not just a cancer story it’s a story of love, family and most of all life.
🎵 : The Servant Song
“I will share your joy and sorrow // Till we’ve seen this journey through”

Book That Deal With Cancer : On My Radar (Click To View)

My Sister’s Keeper *

Anna is not sick, but she might as well be. By age thirteen, she has undergone countless surgeries, transfusions, and shots so that her older sister, Kate, can somehow fight the leukemia that has plagued her since childhood. The product of preimplantation genetic diagnosis, Anna was conceived as a bone marrow match for Kate—a life and a role that she has never challenged… until now. Like most teenagers, Anna is beginning to question who she truly is. But unlike most teenagers, she has always been defined in terms of her sister—and so Anna makes a decision that for most would be unthinkable, a decision that will tear her family apart and have perhaps fatal consequences for the sister she loves.

A provocative novel that raises some important ethical issues, My Sister’s Keeper is the story of one family’s struggle for survival at all human costs and a stunning parable for all time.


Before I Die*

The story of Tessa, a young teenage girl who has only months to live … a brilliantly crafted novel, heartbreaking yet life-affirming.

Tessa has just months to live. Fighting back against hospital visits, endless tests, drugs with excruciating side-effects, Tessa compiles a list. It’s her To Do Before I Die list. And number one is Sex. Released from the constraints of ‘normal’ life, Tessa tastes new experiences to make her feel alive while her failing body struggles to keep up. Tessa’s feelings, her relationships with her father and brother, her estranged mother, her best friend, and her new boyfriend, all are painfully crystallized in the precious weeks before Tessa’s time finally runs out.


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