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Volume 2, Issue 4
Winter 2006:

Every Day Counts by Maria Sirois

Review by: Corinne Viens

Cell 2 Soul. 2006 Winter; 2(4):a5

Walker & Company (2006); 208 pages; ISBN: 0802714951

Every Day Counts

Maria Sirois provides tender accounts of children faced with cancer in Every Day Counts. She shares her experiences and the stories of many of the children she worked with during her psychology internship at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

The year went beyond her expectations Though she knew full well that her emotions would be stretched and her heart strings pulled, she never realized that the children themselves would be such examples of courage and strength, and would teach her invaluable lessons about life, love, faith and spirituality.

Dr. Sirois gives us a glimpse into the heartwarming stories of some very brave children and the battles they faced. Though the names have been changed to protect the privacy of her patients and their families, the cases and circumstances are real. Each child is marked indelibly on her soul. Each one became a learning experience as she dealt with their individuality, their family dynamics, different social values and of course, their medical diagnoses, needs and treatments.

Several children stand out in my mind, though each one brought tears to my eyes. In many cases their own coping mechanisms were mind-boggling. Some of the children seemed to possess wisdom beyond their years and yet were able to maintain their childhood innocence at the same time. Though facing challenges of pain and the rigors of their illness and its treatment, many still maintained a childlike wonder that belied the gravity of their situations.

The author relates some of her difficult times dealing with the emotions and complexities of continued loss and the toll that it takes. It forced her to question her faith and to come to grips with past losses as well as the present and the future. Through humor, play and the comfort that true caring and nurturing bring, Dr. Sirois found ways to cope personally and to help her patients and families.

I was most touched by the wisdom of the young man who is the inspiration for the title of the book. He was in his teen years and had pretty much accepted his situation and had the support of a caring family. Perhaps this influenced his apologetic decision to decline the counseling offered by Dr. Sirois. She was so impressed by his maturity and emotional strength that she asked him if he had any advice for other young people. His reply was to tell them that every day counts. Even if it's a bad day, one needs to find something that will make it special. This is a lesson we can all take to heart.

As I think about it, my first reading of Every Day Counts was done with my head. I focused more on facts, allowing a certain detachment that prevented identifying too strongly with the children and their stories. During the second reading, I found myself reading with my heart, which was really all that mattered, and the children became inspiring. It is heartwarming to see the compassion and dedication that Dr. Sirois has for her patients and profession.

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