Carolyn Rubenstein has met many young people who have struggled with life threatening diseases. From interviews and testimonies, she has put together twenty of their stories in a remarkable book called, Perseverance (Forge, 2009). Deciding whose story to include and whose to leave out must have been a very difficult decision. The book would have been less emotionally draining if Carolyn could have whittled it down to a dozen. Yet each story has value and tells of amazing courage in the face of devastating health issues.

While the person telling their story is in their early twenties at the time of writing, their experience of cancer happened either as a young child, a teenager, or very recently. For all of them it was a life changing experience that made them reevaluate their lives and their priorities. Often it changed the future direction of their lives, causing them to choose careers helping others, whether that was in the medical field or working with children.

There were recurring themes of learning not to “sweat the small stuff”; of learning to be grateful for things that healthy people take for granted; and the importance of living one day at a time.

Overall it was inspiring to read of young people overcoming enormous obstacles to live full lives.