The Patheos Book Club has been kind enough to launch a discussion about my new book: Stripped: Cancer, Culture, and the Cloud of Unknowing. 

An excerpt from the Q and A:

Your faith was integral to your journey through the cancer diagnosis and treatment. Can you say a bit more about that, for those who have yet to read the book? How did your faith accompany you in this journey?

My faith is integral to everything. Christ is the ground of my being. So he walked with me, accompanied me, as he does everywhere.

Just briefly. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2000 and I ended up going against medical advice and declining chemo, radiation, and a heavy-duty estrogen drug called Tamoxifen. I did a ton of research and a lot of praying, and I consulted friends and spiritual advisors I trust. And in the end, my inner sense was that those harsh treatments would do more harm than good for my Stage 1, Grade 1 cancer. So I had the tumor surgically removed, out-patient, and that was it. I just kept living my life the way I’d been living it for years. And now fifteen more years have passed. I just turned 63. I don’t eat crap but I’m not obsessed with eating only organic. I adore gluten. I don’t take pills of any kind, not even vitamins.

But Stripped is in no way an anti-medicine screed. It’s an invitation to ask ourselves what Master we serve. That doesn’t mean the choice is between Jesus and the doctors. No, no, no. The question is whether we’re going to serve the master of fear or the Master of love. Do we have the courage to follow our own hearts over an authority figure: a doctor, a coach, a politician, a parent, a spouse, a friend, a religious or spiritual figure who may or may not be speaking with real authority?

Are we going to mindlessly serve a culture that is increasingly based on the commodification of the human body, the human person?

I didn’t see my cancer a blessing—please!—but I did see it as a mystery. To consent to live in mystery, not to know all the answers, is another kind of poverty. The world sees any kind of poverty as cause for ridicule. Loser! But Christ’s kingdom is not of this world”…


HERE’S THE LINK to the full book club, with links to the Q and A, an essay called “Fifteen Years After,” the beginnings of the roundtable, and other content.


  1. Anonymous says: Reply

    lovely photos Heather !
    I think you have guts for going your own way after the cancer !
    I wonder if ultimately its a matter of Faith ! Are'nt we now children of God, redeemed, set free ! Heaven comes down to earth…sounds like you take God seriously, good on yer !

    1. Right, and faith of course can manifest in trusting the doctors and following medical advice, too. For me, it was a matter of going deep into prayer, bringing in my community of family, friends and spiritual advisors, and coming to a decision with Christ at the center. Thanks so much, Pilgrimdj!

  2. I have your Kindle book titled STRIPPED: Cancer, Culture, and the Cloud of Unknowing, which I purchased September 13, 2014. It seems to have the same table of contents, and the first few pages as the new book, and a slightly different title. Is the new one radically different from the original? I downloaded a sample of the new one..that's how I know about the table of contents and the first pages. Thank you.

    1. Hey Maggie, no, it's not radically different at all. I self-published the book last year, and Loyola picked it up, had me more painstakingly source the zillions of quotes, and gave it a new jacket and slightly different title. But it's very much the same book–thanks so much for the support.

  3. Thank you Heather.

    1. And thank you, Suzanne!

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