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A Family Facing Inoperable Brain Cancer [Paperback]

Jen O'Hara , Dan O'Hara

RRP: 8.82
Price: 8.75 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

11 Jun 2013
Shannon O'Hara, skating down the ice chasing after the puck, comes face to face with a larger-than-life opposing team player. Never one to back down from anything, barely five feet fall, Shannon tangles with the player and ends up with a penalty. As she sits in the penalty box--only thinking about getting out in two minutes--no one would ever imagine that this beautiful, vibrant, and competitive young spirit will be gone in 54 days. The devastating news that 12-year-old Shannon is diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor is unfathomable, surreal, and unimaginable. This is the raw and emotional story of the O'Hara's as they prepare for the fight of their lives, and their ultimate loss. Written and inspired by a blog that Dan and Jen O'Hara wrote to keep in touch with their family, friends, and supporters near and far, the story follows the yearlong battle from diagnosis to death and exemplifies how to live the "new normal" every day, no matter what it entails. Shannon's struggle reveals why family, faith, and hope are so important in our daily lives and how the support of a community plays such a vital role through the good times and especially the bad.

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"O'Hara and her husband, Dan, try to make the best of a tragedy--their daughter's death from brain cancer at age 13--by sharing her story. ...Readers...will find the O'Haras' email messages to their loved ones and a year's worth of blog entries inspiring on many levels. ...In her thoughtful afterword, Dr. Cynthia Wetmore of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital writes that the O'Haras are so dedicated to helping find a cure that they delivered Shannon's tumor to her after her death. That donation, and this book, may help other families channel their grief in a positive way." -- Booklist "Drawn from that original blog, with additional notes and photos, this book is a tribute to Shannon's memory and a testament to Jen and Dan's experiences. ...readers may embrace this as the story of a family coming together in the wake of a tremendous tragedy... Recommended for those able to find a sense of purpose in this heart-wrenching story." -- Library Journal "A brave, beautiful, bittersweet book; you will be a better person for reading it." -- Julie Jones, Radio Personality, Rochester, MN "Determined to Matter is beautifully put together and is absolutely heart rending to read. Jen and Dan are so honest and open with their family's battle." - Rachel Schuldt, Executive Director Minnesota Wild Foundation "This is a remarkable story of a remarkable family who faced cancer and death of their daughter Shannon - an all too common experience for families. Reading this book helps us to be in touch with our own experiences with cancer and other health crisis experienced by our family and friends. Shannon, her journey and this story matters." -- Margaret Perryman, President/CEO, Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare, St. Paul, MN "The last half of the book tugs at the heartstrings as the reader walks with the family through Shannon's decline and passing, as well as witnesses their grief and valiant efforts at getting on with their lives. Determined to Matter is a good read for anyone lacking in appreciation for those special people in their lives. It is a reminder to all to look around and really see what wonderful things those we love bring into our world." -- Compass Book Ratings "Determined to Matter is a heartfelt story of facing death at a young age, and the trials that family members of a gravely ill young adult endure." -- Midwest Book Review "...a beautiful, honest expression of what a family goes through. They warn that it's not sugar-coated. It's not, and that's why it's so good. It's full of the range of emotions anyone would feel. Dan and Jen express it all." -- Mike Dougherty, Post-Bulletin, Rochester, MN "While she may be gone, she is certainly not forgotten." -- Paul Christian, Post-Bulletin, Rochester, MN "Hundreds of people kept up on Shannon's condition as her parents, Dan and Jennifer O'Hara, chronicled their daughter's final months in an honest, heart-wrenching online journal...Much like her passion for life and sense of humor, Shannon is remembered for her strength and determination." -- Christina Killion Valdez, Post-Bulletin, Rochester, MN

About the Author

Jen O'Hara is a Rochester, MN, native and graduated from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN, with a BA in Broadcast Journalism. She has worked as a high school educator teaching television production and as a tennis instructor to students of all ages, while also being at home raising her two daughters, Shannon and Erin. Jen has been married to husband Dan for 17 years. She is an avid Broadway musical fan as well as an enthusiast of all kinds of sports, especially golf and tennis. This is her first published work, and it is in memory of her daughter, Shannon. Dan O'Hara is the husband of Jen O'Hara, father of Shannon & Erin O'Hara, and of course, master of Sunny the wonder dog. After earning a BS in Mass Communications from St. Cloud State University, Dan spent 13 years in local television as Sports Director at KTTC TV, Rochester, MN. Today he is a Sales Executive in the Transportation/Trucking industry. Dan's passions are his golf, his backyard and his Minnesota sports teams. Dan continues to wear his heart on his sleeve. Together, Dan and Jen wrote the original blog about their journey through these difficult times, and some blog excerpts in the book are credited to him.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  47 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The powerful story of family and community helping a young girl have a life that was Determined to Matter 19 Feb 2014
By Gwen Harkins - Published on
This story is a poignant yet wonderful read about family, community and giving hope and quality of life to a young thirteen year old with a fatal diagnosis who continued to live life to the fullest, including playing hockey fifty four days before her death from a terminal brain tumor. What started as a blog and then became the book is gut-wrenching but also filled with hope. The writing is a quality that transports you into the daily life of the O'Haras and their family and community. It is a book that will inspire the reader and offer hope to anyone living through tough situations.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tragic, Moving and Ultimately Uplifting Story of Family Loss and Resiliency 20 Feb 2014
By Douglas P. mackaman - Published on
Nobody who hasn't lost child can ever know what's inside of that hell. And yet this profoundly moving story of a family preparing for their dear child's death and then surviving it is the deepest plumbing of immeasurable sadness that you'll likely ever read. Full disclosure here: I know and love all of these folks as my family, including Shannon, who was my buddy from the first time I met her. I'm also that rare person who lives a life looking out from inside of the rabbit hole: I lost my own son last April.

Most writers do best when they write what they know. Which is probably why Jennifer O'Hara has such powerful and deliberate authority over this story. None could have been closer to home, because this is the story of her 12 year old's reverse gestation, from an April eye problem to a January funeral. 9 months of holding on tightly to every second were also 9 months of thinking about what it meant to be letting go of a child's life.

What's so remarkable here is the candid opening into her family's heart and soul that Jenn allows her readers to access. She and her husband Dan did much of this book first in the blog they wrote in realtime, as they brought a community of thousands with them through the months that Shannon was living and dying. But what's been edited and expanded here is something more. An ode to a child nobody who knew will ever forget. A plea for understanding and help to a wide community of supporters who followed every day of this story as though checking over and over again for a new blog post might somehow mean that the news that day would be good. And finally a story not just about this one family and the terribly unfair death their girl was dealt at thirteen but a story, really, about resiliency. Slow, halting, full of slides backward and sideways. Full of sardonic humor and trenchant observations about how the checkout line at the grocery can feel like a fight or flight moment for a family whose kid isn't waiting at home to complain that vegetables still suck. But full, too, of tiny glimmers of a "new normal" life that the rotten slipstream of bereavement carries forth to those who don't even know some days how to live it.

If you read a few books this year and this one isn't among them, you're missing life lessons lessons that everybody needs, delivered by and about a little girl who skated hard on her hockey team and went down fighting. Shannon: who left too soon and worried as she went that the tumor in her brainstem might somehow not make it into a St. Jude's study on such tumors. Determine to matter? Yes she was. Her hockey jersey may be retired down in Rochester Minnesota, but #9's tumor made it into that study and is helping even now to raise the chances that the next kid who gets a brainstem glioma won't die.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring and heart-wrenching account of a dear family's journey with their daughter's fight 20 Feb 2014
By Michael O'Hara - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
Shannon's complaints of headaches led to a parent's worst nightmare: an incurable brain tumor. Her parents share their journey with searing honesty, grace, hope, faith, and humor. Shannon's courage, tenacity, spunk and humor shine through. Very well-written. So much there for us all to learn from as the family copes, teaching us how to live, and die, and grieve.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read 19 Feb 2014
By Elizabeth Stanek - Published on
This is an amazing story of strength and perseverance. A wonderful loving family sharing their loss and pain to help others and a story of a little girl who showed us how to live and die with dignity.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shannon the Cannon was "Determined" to matter!! 19 Feb 2014
By Jackie - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A difficult story - real and raw....but one that captures your heart! I still check their blog daily and pray for them regularly.
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