The author addresses breast cancer, which afflicts nearly 200,000 women in the U.S. each year, from the viewpoint of a husband and father of four young children. Michael and Raquel, his wife-to-be, arrive as students in this country, meet, get married, and begin their professional careers, he as a chemical engineer and she, a pediatrician. Ambition and drive, traits they forged during their formative, horrific years in World War II, helped them achieve professional notoriety and an enviable lifestyle. A cyst on Raquel’s breast cruelly reverses their fortunes.
“When I learned that my wife’s cyst had turned malignant and imminently threatened her life, I stumbled, losing my business as well as sanity,” Michael recalls. He recovers, however, resumes his professional career, assumes the reins of the troubled household, and helps his children overcome the hurdles posed by their mother’s illness and death.
Hurdles is a compelling, heartrending story of tragic loss and a desperate struggle for survival, alleviated by love and devotion, and deep commitment to life. It is a testimony to resilience and strength of the human spirit, a must-read for victims of this terrible disease and their caregivers.
About the Author:
Michael G. Kesler, Ph.D., is a chemical engineer and a graduate of MIT and NYU. He worked for 50 years in the petroleum industry. Since his retirement in 2006, he has rewritten and published his late wife’s book, Grit—A Pediatrician’s Odyssey From a Soviet Camp to Harvard, by Regina Kesler, M.D., and wrote of his own experiences during World War II in Shards of War—Fleeing To & From Uzbekistan, which has won praise from a number of academics. He has completed a play, Luba, based on a portion of Shards of War. He is also writing a novella, Hope—My Year in a DP Camp. He and his wife, Barbara S. Reed, Ph.D., are proud parents of six children and 11 grandchildren. They reside in East Brunswick, New Jersey.
Contributor: Howard Paul, Ph.D., ABPP, FAClinP, a clinical psychologist, has spent 47 years in academia and private practice. He has authored a book, The Heart of Psychology, and numerous papers in the behavioral sciences. He resides in North Brunswick, New Jersey.
“I have read Hurdles—When Cancer Strikes a Family, and felt it to be a fulfilling experience. The honesty and self-examination which pervades the manuscript gives great depth to the personal story. I found the events depicted and the excellent writing personally touching as a 37-year survivor of cancer. I have been greatly impressed by the love and devotion between the two protagonists, as well as by their ability to help their children cope with hurdles caused by the family’s heartbreaking difficulties. Hurdles will benefit the many support groups for caregivers here at SHARE. I’ll be happy to recommend Hurdles to other similar institutions.” – Lee Miller, director of special projects, SHARE (Self Help for Women with Breast or Ovarian Cancer)
“I read Hurdles in one day. I want to tell how incredibly touched I was reading it. I thought the story and the writing were fabulous and very moving.” – Linda Lidor, occupational therapist
“In Hurdles, Michael writes of the struggles from the great personal adversity experienced by himself, his first wife, Raquel, and ultimately, his children. It is a rich, thoughtful and meaningful account by one who valiantly coped with the tragedy of the death from cancer of his pediatrician-wife. Michael and Raquel transformed their horrific World War II experience into a life of extraordinary professional and personal achievement, and the raising of four accomplished children. The focus of this fine, moving book is on the hurdles faced by this family, and their ultimate recovery from stress, anger, and sadness. As such it is a testament to extraordinary human resilience.” – Elizabeth Midlarsky, Ph.D., professor, Department of Counseling & Clinical Psychology, Teachers College, Columbia University, licensed psychologist and fellow, American Psychological Association