Book Review: Hurdles: When Cancer Strikes a Family, Michael G. Kesler, Ph.D.

Hurdles Book Cover


Hurdles: When Cancer Strikes a Family by Michael G. Kesler, Ph.D.

Summary from

“Hurdles presents true episodes in the lives of my wife, a pediatrician; myself-the author-a chemical engineer; and of our four young children. Having survived World War II, we arrive in this country and achieve professional prominence and an enviable lifestyle. When, however, my wife’s breast cyst turns malignant, I stumble, losing my business as well as sanity. I soon recover and muster my strength to help my children overcome the hurdles posed by their mother’s illness and death. My intensely personal story addresses the scourge of women’s breast cancer from a husband and father’s viewpoints. The book offers a heartrending story of a family’s distress and resilience, love and devotion, and the ultimate triumph of the human spirit. It should be of particular interest to the 200,000 women afflicted with the disease in the United States each year”

My Review:

Cancer, when a person receives the diagnoses of Cancer the normal five-stage response of grief come into play not only for the patient, but also for the patient’s family.  Never having been in direct contact with Cancer myself I cannot speak on a personal level about the intimate struggles one goes through when dealing/fighting cancer.  I know many struggle and fight up until the very end when they finally accept that the cancer has won the battle and then they only wish to live their lives to the fullest until they cannot.  I know of two young people, one only a child of four years old who has passed from cancer – the other a teenager my community lost when he was just fourteen.  I could only fathom the level of grief each family had when their child passed and succumbed to the cancer that struck them down.  As a parent, I can only pray to everything higher above me that my two children remain perfectly healthy…but the flipside here is that what would I do should it be myself or my husband that are diagnosed with cancer?  That question lingers after reading this book.

Dr. Raquel Kesler was a not only successful and loved pediatrician in her community; she was also a Mother of four children under the age of fourteen, and the same age my community lost one of our own. Having established her practice from scratch, working out of an adjoining building to her home, built there when they built their home so she could be close to her children when they came home from school each day, she was a dealt a blow I personally would cripple receiving: Breast Cancer.  She fought valiantly, but in the end she was not able to fend off the disease, being the early 1970s this cancer form was fought aggressively with surgery and some radiation and chemo, but not much else was known about it nor were the methods of treatment we have available today open to her then. This book tells the story of her cancer from her husband’s perspective, how he handled being the primary caretaker while his wife was battling cancer.  As a couple they decided to not tell their children about their mother’s cancer – instead they allowed them to develop their own reasons and logic for why their mother’s form was changing so drastically. Personally, I did not agree with this stance, I would have preferred to put it out there and allow the children to make their own means of handling the cancer.  Alas that was not the case.

All in all this book intrigued me, pulled me in and kept me reading to the last page – I did not agree with how the parents handled the cancer, seemed they were almost selfish throughout the book until the very end after Raquel passed and Michael was forced to put his children in front of himself – even then he was not 100% able to do so – the book was a lot of “well what about me? What about my career? What about my practice? Etc. etc. etc.” Yes Raquel would worry endlessly about who’ll take care of her children, never once did she make the necessary arrangements for them to be taken care of, she never requested a friend step in and be Mom next to Michael.  I could go on, but I will not.  I will however say that I recommend this book to anyone who is living with a cancer patient.

*I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review*

Three out of Five Stars for Hurdles.

About the Author, borrowed from

“Michael G. Kesler, Ph.D., is a graduate of MIT and NYU. Since his retirement in 2006, he has written of his experiences during World War II. His recent book, Shards of War-Fleeing To & From Uzbekistan, has won praise from a number of academics and was listed among the bestselling e-books in Europe. He is completing a screenplay of Shards of War and writing a novella, Hope-My Year in a DP Camp. The author and his wife, Barbara S. Reed, Ph. D., live in East Brunswick, New Jersey, and proudly head a family of six children and 11 grandchildren. Contributor Howard Paul, Ph.D., ABPP, FAClinP, an internationally prominent clinical psychologist, has spent 47 years in academia and private practice. He has authored a book and numerous papers in behavioral sciences. He resides in North Brunswick, New Jersey.”

Learn more about Dr. Kesler through the Publisher’s Website: Michael G. Kesler, Ph.D.

Obtain your own copy of Hurdles via or Barnes & Nobles


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