Book Review: Days Like These, Kristian & Rachel Anderson

An honest account of a middle-aged man’s struggle and gradual ebbing losses in life, based on an online journal he maintained;  he was struck with cancer in the colon and the liver in middle of a happy life; the book is a result of Kristian’s wife’s work at stringing together blogposts from his website.

Kristian Anderson quotes the bible pretty often and loves music.
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.
LEONARD COHEN, “ANTHEM”
He started out as a workaholic trying to come to terms with the truth of his diagnosis. He would come home to run into his children’s toys and cherish them. His faith proved to be his footing that spurred him on to stand and keep standing if not run, keep standing and fight.
The wife remains a colossal support and reads up on chemotherapy while her husband undergoes the drudgery of the drug injection everyday. He finds strength in family and hopes of a divine end to a draining, violent struggle. As he writes at one point,
days
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,I will fear no evil,
for you are with me.
PSALM 23:4 CE
I now know what it means to walk through the valley of the shadow of death. But the thing about a shadow is that it is vaporized by light.
First John 1:5 reads:This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.”
He falls apart, gathers himself and walks on:

As I emailed a friend:

For some reason my faith is surging when I am normally quite melancholy. I sense a battle ahead, but I also sense a victory. I’m frightened of the medical processes ahead. My body is going to go through hell, not to mention my mind — but I have hope. Real hope. I’m going to make it out the other side of this, and there will be tales of miracles. It’s time for me to stand up and be counted.

What poor research my enemy has undertaken! His recon team should be hung, drawn, and quartered! What terrible destruction I will bring to his doorstep. What violence I will unleash against him.

It has its moments, like when the couple thought it better to opt for IVF.

Great. As if this wasn’t already awkward enough for me. Fill in all the forms, permissions, power of attorney, etc., in case something happens to me, and then I am introduced to the scientist. Who happens to be a not unattractive Asian woman my age, it just gets better.

Some days I’m Jekyll; some days I’m Hyde.
But mostly I’m Hyde, and I can’t control it.
I almost feel a sense of… not pity, but morbidity when I read through his account. Sanguine; reading about the God he is so confident about and so thankful to, the psalms he quotes and the undying hope he has that he will live, and then slap it against the fact that he is no longer alive is almost painful.
It is as if his God was a plushie given to him to distract him from the reality of his  life-

“Hallelujah, because my God walks beside me and fights the battle for me. He commands His angels concerning me, and they guard me carefully. He is my fortress, my hiding place while the battle for my life rages around me. He stands between me and the sickness that seeks to take my life and says to the sickness, “No further — you will not harm him.”

I’m human. My comprehension of eternal things is limited by the skin that I’m living in, but I know enough about God’s character to know that His promises are rock solid. He can’t lie, and He is not a man that he should change his mind.
I’m the head of our house, the gatekeeper. If something comes in and attacks my family, it is only because I have failed to keep it out.
God, help.

Finally, when he can see no exit and his confidence begins to cloud with silent pleas, he prays,

“All I have are His promises. God, I need a miracle, sooner rather than later. Please?”

Despite such a trying and difficult situation, the writer’s will to log his odyssey onto the net for all to read is really admirable. At 129 pages, it is something you must read.
I’ve been trying to write something intelligent since Christmas Day. It hasn’t really been happening. Catching my thoughts has been like Mr. Miyagi trying to catch a fly with chopsticks in The Karate Kid. Apparently it’s known as “chemo brain” and is a well-documented occurrence. Still, it doesn’t make me feel that great to know I’m not functioning 100 percent in the head. I feel a little like the crazy Irishman in Braveheart.
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