Thursday, October 10, 2013

COULDA, SHOULDA, WOULDA: Lessons, Learnings, And Insights From A Mother About Her Daughter's Battle With Cancer by Kenna P. Marriott

Author: Kenna P. Marriott
Release Date: June 5, 2013
Publisher: iUniverse
Edition: paperback, 440 pages
Genre: memoires, biography, non-fiction, inspirational, self-help, breast cancer
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
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"...catastrophic illness is not just one person's disease; it impacts everyone who cares about them." 

Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda: A Mother's Lessons, Learnings, And Insights From Her Daughter's Battle With Cancer is Kenna P. Marriott's tribute to her daughter, Jeannine, and to all those heroes who are facing the challenges of a life-threatening illness, whether as patients, relatives  of a patient, or caregivers. It would have been Kenna's dream and hope to co-author with her beloved daughter a survivor's guide to coping with the disease. Unfortunately, after being diagnosed with breast cancer at age forty, Jeannine Mongelli's story took a dramatic downturn. 

There are currently 2.8 million breast cancer survivors in the United States and although this particular kind of tumor remains the second leading cause of cancer death among women, the death rate has been declining since the early '90s, probably as a result of a combination of factors. The reduced use of hormone therapies after menopause, an increased awareness among younger women, earlier detection, regular screenings, and better treatments may have saved an ever growing number of cancer patients below fifty years of age. Tragically, Jeannine was not one of them.  She was only forty when she received the devastating news: after a mastectomy and a brief remission, the cancer metastasized into her back bone, spreading, over the course of three years, in various other bones and, ultimately, in her soft tissue.  Her battle against the ruthless disease lasted seven and a half years,  a fight she didn't win despite her proactive optimism and several drug trials. The spreading of tumoral cells to her liver was for Jeannine a death sentence without appeal. She passed away in hospice care in 2008, leaving behind her husband, their two children, and the memory of her extreme suffering engraved in the hearts of all the people who gathered around her during this calvary. 

Together with the irretrievable loss comes the inevitable denial and the necessary grieving, but while death is a life-altering and heartbreaking experience nobody will ever be prepared to face, a mother's love is capable of a spiritual resiliency not even death can steal. Although letting go of the sorrow is understandably impossible for anybody who has been touched by this unforgiving disease as a parent, spouse, relative, or close friend of a cancer victim, in the years following Jeannine's death Kenna was able to collect every most intimate and gut-wrenching memory of her daughter's battle in a highly impactful biography. The value of Kenna' s memoir is inestimable, not only for the emotional and cathartic relief the author experienced in the act of giving a written form to her baggage of memories, but also for the enlightening insights she so lucidly offers to the benefit of whomever is experiencing a life-threatening disease.

Through a compelling recount of all the milestones of Jenna's battle for life, Kenna leads the readers, with honesty and clarity, through all the critical stages of her traumatic experience: from the emotional state and self esteem issues  suffered by a cancer patient, to the search for the right oncologist, hospital, and treatments. Particularly delicate are the shifting dynamics among the family members who will more closely have to deal with the debilitating effect of the illness: trying to prepare children to the loss of one of their parents is absolutely necessary. Using denial to shield them from the truth will only deepen their trauma and deprive them of a sense of closure. While we can only hope for a miracle in the darkest of circumstances, we need to understand that the life we have shared with a loved one prior to his or her demise is a miracle in itself. We should treasure any moment and celebrate life with our loved ones whenever we can - regrets and second guessings are the cancer of the soul. Intoxicating and life consuming.

***Review copy graciously offered by the publicist in return of an honest review


About the author - Kenna P. Marriott is president and owner of Linking To Success. With more than thirty-five years of business experience, she is a pioneer in the fields of self-managed teams and breakthrough thinking. Since Jeannine's passing, Marriott has devoted herself to cancer patients and their families. She is on the Board of Directors of the National Alliance On Mental Illness and the Dawn Center For Victims Of Domestic & Sexual Violence in Hernando County, Florida. To know more about her and her journey, please visit her website 

In loving memory of Jeannine Lea Mongelli
September 3, 1961 - May 24, 2008 

Facts about breast cancer
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women, except for skin cancers. About 1 in 8 (12%) women in the US will develop invasive breast cancer during their lifetime.
The American Cancer Society's estimates for breast cancer in the United States for 2013 are:
  • About 232,340 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women.
  • About 64,640 new cases of carcinoma in situ (CIS) will be diagnosed (CIS is non-invasive and is the earliest form of breast cancer).
  • About 39,620 women will die from breast cancer
After increasing for more than 2 decades, female breast cancer incidence rates began decreasing in 2000, then dropped by about 7% from 2002 to 2003. This large decrease was thought to be due to the decline in use of hormone therapy after menopause that occurred after the results of the Women's Health Initiative were published in 2002. This study linked the use of hormone therapy to an increased risk of breast cancer and heart diseases. Incidence rates have been stable in recent years.
Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, exceeded only by lung cancer. The chance that breast cancer will be responsible for a woman's death is about 1 in 36 (about 3%). Death rates from breast cancer have been declining since about 1989, with larger decreases in women younger than 50. These decreases are believed to be the result of earlier detection through screening and increased awareness, as well as improved treatment.
At this time there are more than 2.8 million breast cancer survivors in the United States. (American Cancer Association)


  1. Thank you for sharing what is more than a review Mina. Breast cancer has touched all of us in some way. Condolences to Ms. Marriott for the loss of her lovely and courageous daughter.

    1. You're welcome, Maryellen. Anybody who intends to read this book should be prepared to experience many different emotions. It should be read as a tribute and a wake-up call.