Standing at Water’s Edge

A Cancer Nurse, Her Four-Year-Old Son and the Shifting Tides of Leukemia


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About the Book

Janice Post-White was an oncology nurse who thought she knew what life with cancer was about—until her four-year-old son was diagnosed with leukemia. While he drew pictures to process his emotions, she buried her feelings and threw herself into managing a dual role as a medical professional and mother. Her introspective memoir shares her son’s perspective as a young cancer patient and teen survivor, and explores her own personal and professional insights on survivorship, resilience, healing and what facing death can teach us about living.

About the Author(s)

As a PhD trained nurse, researcher, educator, and writer, Janice Post-White has four decades of experience in cancer, psychoneuroimmunology, and complementary medicine and integrative cancer care. She studies how the mind communicates with the body and writes about resiliency in illness from personal and professional experience. She lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota and Lana’i, Hawaii. Visit her website

Bibliographic Details

Janice Post-White
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 256
Bibliographic Info: 15 photos, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2022
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8710-0
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4464-6
Imprint: Toplight

Table of Contents

Preface 1

Introduction 3

Part I. The First Year: Getting Through

 1. January 9, 1997, 2:40 p.m. 6

 2. As the Seasons Change 8

 3. Diagnosis 15

 4. The Plan 18

 5. The Training 28

 6. The First Week 37

 7. Finding Our Way 50

 8. New Identities, New Perspectives 58

 9. Why Cancer? Why Now? Why Us? 67

10. Surviving 79

11. I Just Want to Live in the Moment 89

12. And How Is Mom? 97

13. Who Is This Child? 103

14. Finding Normal 112

15. Sailing Forward 120

Part II. Treatment Years 2–3: The New Normal

16. Expectations 132

17. Always on Call 140

18. Can’t Escape Cancer 146

19. Decisions, Decisions 154

20. The Last Lap 158

21. Celebrate! 165

Part III. The Decade After: Moving On

22. Facing Fears 172

23. ­Wake-Up Call 182

24. Hawaii as Refuge 188

25. Reclaiming Childhood 196

26. Taking On 204

27. It’s Okay to Cry 210

28. Letting Go 221

29. Shadows of the Heart 229

Epilogue 233

Acknowledgments 238

Bibliography 241

Index 247

Book Reviews & Awards

• “[Post-White’s] memoir charts each step on [her son’s] road to recovery after his leukemia diagnosis, offering the dual perspectives of a highly trained nurse and a loving mother. [Her] writing poses probing questions asked by many whose lives have been touched by cancer… She also explores her young son’s coping process by sharing pictures Brennan drew to express his feelings throughout his treatment. As a medical professional, the author takes a philosophical approach to surviving and facing fears… Post-White’s writing is sharply analytical and grounded in actuality…the delivery of stark facts is delicately counterbalanced with a profound excavation of personal emotions… The result is a skillfully well-rounded memoir in which the author draws on her own experiences, charts Brennan’s medical and emotional progress, and alludes to the struggles of patients she has treated….In a marketplace crowded with similar titles, the author’s informative work shares rich layers of a valuable perspective—delivering concise medical explanations, a nurse’s experience and compassion, and tender maternal understanding—making this book stand out from the rest. A multifaceted, thought-provoking, and learned exploration of a painful subject.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

• “Janice Post-White writes from a unique perspective. Not only is she a first-time cancer mom, but also a cancer nurse…their story also gives us hope because it shows that cancer isn’t a death sentence for all children diagnosed with this disease. I recommend Standing at Water’s Edge for everyone who needs to learn more about cancer or knows anybody who has cancer. It shows ways to cope and provides clinical cancer information.”—Susan van der Walt, Readers’ Favorite (5-star seal)

• “In Standing at Waters Edge, Dr. Janice Post-White, a cancer health-care specialist herself, generously and colorfully takes us into the world of a family confronted by childhood cancer…. Life and its seasons do not stop for childhood cancer, and her words teach us how overwhelming the aloneness can be for a family and for each of its members that is evoked by threats to their wellbeing and survival…. She teaches us how our words, touch, and presence can make the cancer experience better for our very ill children and their families. This book is our guide and will take us as close to the family pediatric cancer experience as we shall be able to get.”—Pamela Hinds, William and Joanne Conway Chair of Nursing Research at Children’s National, pediatrics professor at George Washington University in Washington DC

• “What a beautiful, poetic and honest account of a parent’s greatest fear—facing the loss of a child to a serious illness. This book will move you, enlighten you, and ultimately inspire you. For what is a brush with death, if not a deeper call to life?”—Henry Emmons, MD, author of The Chemistry of Joy and The Chemistry of Calm