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  • 204 pages
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  • 204 pages
  • 5.5 x 8.5 inches

Non-fiction, Cancer, Experiencing chemo, Illness in the family, Resilience, Hope, Gratefulness

The Girl Next Door Meets Cancer
by Hayleigh Noel O'Brien

“I hope that my experience can encourage other women to pay attention to their bodies and trust their instincts.”

These are the brave words of the late Hayleigh Noel O’Brien, who, shortly before her 31st birthday, was diagnosed with a form of cancer that no woman hopes to meet: ovarian cancer. What followed was a courageous yearlong battle, filled with doctors’ appointments, tests, and treatments. The prognosis was often changing, bringing along with it the emotional highs and lows of a difficult present and an uncertain future. But with the help of her loved ones, Hayleigh lived each day with immense optimism and gratitude. Always wanting to help people, she chose to document her entire experience in the form of a blog, so that it could bring solidarity and comfort to other people in her position. Many who read Hayleigh’s blog called her their “hero.”

The Girl Next Door Meets Cancer contains the entirety of Hayleigh’s cancer blog, published posthumously by her family at her request. This book is a source of invaluable insight and support for anyone who is on a cancer journey, as well as for the families and others who provide care. Readers will come away thinking, Yes, this is what I am feeling, equipped with a roadmap for providing the best care possible—physically, emotionally, and spiritually. With Hayleigh’s voice in their hands, nobody has to make this journey alone.

This read will captivate you, and pull on all of your emotions from laughter, anger and tears. Hayleigh was what many people strive to be in life; confident, honest, loving, pure, raw, straight to the point, someone you wanted around.  Hayleigh was motivating, genuine and told you how it was; someone who knew what mattered most.  Life can throw you curve balls and Hayleigh knew this, but through her journey she teaches us through her lived experiences there is one thing we need to remember, no matter what there is always hope.

—Kate Magee, Supervisor, MHSU Services

Honest, gut-wrenching read as we know now how it ended. Makes her more amazing to have persevered through all the unexpected decisions she was given.  She faced each one timely, with humour and rich vocabulary, nothing left undone.  After reading I moved on my decades old postponed decisions and attacked a resentful and unforgiving spirit I had towards my family and friends.  Thank you Hayleigh Noel.

—Wanda T., Registered Nurse

Hayleigh Connell O’Brien was no ordinary girl next door. As her blog reveals, she had old soul wisdom that kept her centered while experiencing the vulnerability and heartbreak of a young woman suddenly facing the loss of her deepest held hopes and dreams.

Hayleigh’s last acts were particularly courageous. By allowing us to know intimate details of her with journey with a rare and aggressive cancer she provides patients, families and professionals alike unique awareness of what it can be like to face one’s worst fears. She also helps us to understand what is sustaining, and what truly matters in the end.

—Lyn MacBeath, MD

I started reading Hayleigh’s blog, from which this book is derived, because she was a friend, but as a retired family physician I was immediately struck by how relevant her blog was to the practice of medicine. Hayleigh’s well-crafted thoughts help the reader understand how the illness and interaction with the heath care team is perceived by the sufferer, thereby facilitating greater empathy and improved communication. It should be required reading for all health care workers providing care to cancer patients.

For cancer victims, Hayleigh’s thoughtful, detailed and eloquent writing, laced with a bit of humor, will help to explain the complex mixture of emotions to be encountered on the journey.

For others, the book is an engaging, well-written story about how the human spirit deals with adversity.

For those lucky enough to have known Hayleigh, and her attachment to family and friends, her book is a new window into her life, revealing her special talents in writing and the depth of her insightful mind.

—Dr. Tim Dundas, MB,BS, LRCP, MRCS, CCFP

Hayleigh Noel O’Brien (née Connell) was a young woman with a zest for life. She was a beloved daughter, sister, auntie, and wife-to-be. Hayleigh lived in Kamloops, BC, with her partner, Keith O’Brien, and her dog, Liam. She worked as a mental health clinician, helping adults with addiction and mental health challenges. She loved to travel, having visited England, France, and Egypt. Hayleigh was diagnosed with mucinous ovarian cancer with large cell neuroendocrine carcinoma shortly before her 31st birthday. During this time, she documented her experiences while continuing to look to the future, planning her wedding and various travel plans. After a courageous battle, she passed away on December 16th, 2017.


Hayleigh Noel O'Brien

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