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  • Learn about the typical sequence of emotions you can expect, from diagnosis through treatment and beyond.
  • Discover how other patients have experienced cancer and the emotions they share.
  • Understand the science behind the emotions, and how cancer and its treatment contribute to how you feel.
  • Gain insight into coping styles, exercise benefits, complementary medicine and other ways to help you build resilience.
  • Gather advice from those who have been there.

Nothing can truly prepare you for the emotional rollercoaster of a cancer diagnosis. But, The Big Ordeal: Understanding and Managing the Psychological Turmoil of Cancer, will help you anticipate and respond to the psychological turmoil ahead. 

Written by a cancer survivor with the help of a psychotherapist and two oncologists, The Big Ordeal presents the typical emotional experience, illustrated by patient and caregiver stories. The book explains the science behind those emotions, helping you understand why you feel the way you do, and offers advice on how to cope. Based on interviews with over 100 patients, caregivers, oncologists, neuroscientists, and other experts, and endorsed by doctors at leading institutions, The Big Ordeal is the go-to book for those who seek to better manage the cancer experience.

Praise for The Big Ordeal

The Big Ordeal is a must read for anyone facing cancer, as a patient or loving caregiver. Through her research with patients and experts, Cynthia brings new insights and understanding to the experience of cancer, helping to reduce the isolation, fear and anxiety so common with a diagnosis. I experience on daily basis the psychosocial challenges the diagnosis engenders and know that the empathy and intelligence shared in this book will help to ease the stress of a cancer care journey.”

Shalom Kalnicki, MD, FASTRO, FACRO
Chairman, Department of Radiation Oncology, Montefiore Medical Center
Professor, Radiation Oncology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine

“The Big Ordeal” is a vital guide for patients and family members contending with a cancer diagnosis, treatment and life beyond. Interweaving the empathic perspectives of a survivor with grounding insights from the science of the stress response, fear, anxiety, depression, cognition and resilience, the book  provides a unique roadmap for an often disorienting and life-changing journey. With its double helix of heart and science, “The Big Ordeal” is a must read for anyone trying to fathom the unfathomable.                       

Jonathan Alpert, MD, PhD
Chair, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Montefiore Medical Center
Professor of Psychiatry, Neuroscience, Pediatrics, Albert Einstein College of Medicine

While important strides in cancer care have led to substantial increases in survival, the personal experience of having cancer remains extraordinarily challenging. In The Big Ordeal, Cynthia uses her knowledge as a cancer patient and her skills as an observer to present a message of understanding and hope for all those touched by the cancer experience.                           

Greg Fricchione, MD
Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School
Associate Chief of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital
Director, Benson-Henry Institute for Mind-Body Medicine

The Big Ordeal addresses a critically important need for cancer centers and their patients to better understand the emotional arc of the disease and how to support patients through what is a physically and psychologically challenging experience.

Steven K. Libutti, MD, FACS
Director, Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey
Senior Vice President, Oncology Services, RWJBarnabas Health
Vice Chancellor Cancer Program, Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences

Ms. Hayes writes with confidence, balancing difficult psychological and medical issues in a voice that will please both professionals and lay reader—not an easy task. This book, an important guide for the cancer community, is recommended for readers of The ASCO Post and their patients.

Ronald Piana
Writer, The ASCO Post

Fifty percent of net proceeds from The Big Ordeal will be donated to The Women, a global nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating inequities in health care among women affected with gynecological cancer through research, education, awareness, and advocacy.