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on 6 January 2011
I want to tell you about this wonderful book that Toni has written.

But first, a little background about myself. I have stage four advanced breast cancer stemming from the genetic mutation BRCA2. I nursed my Mother when she died, have been there while my sister and nieces have undergone and are still undergoing treatment and, of course, my own. I am now on a trial drug to try and stop my cancer spreading plus monthly treatments. All this means I have many days of lying on a bed being very unwell and am also facing a very uncertain future.

Toni's book came to me through a link from a friend and it has been a god send. In the past I have both bought and been given a number of books on how to deal and be with my BC. Most are along the lines of me needing to think my cancer away, to completely change my diet, to think possitively and so on - you know what I mean. There is none of that in Toni's book. It is simply the most practical and inspiring book I have read. Toni draws from not only wonderful Buddhist practices, but from movies, songs, people, wrtings, poetry, and her own experiences. She showed me how to face and be with my cancer, to feel the uncertainty, the fear, to be a woman lying on a bed so unwell, worrying...
I have been around Buddhists for around 20 years (I am not a Buddhist myself) and the way Toni explains the concepts and practices of Buddhism is the best I have heard. Wow, Toni, I get it... or should I say - I'm getting it.

I do not write this lightly, How to be Sick resonated with my very core. As I face all that is cancer, not only now but the future, I am so very very grateful to have Toni's book right there beside me. Thank you.
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on 13 October 2010
This is a beautifully written story about a woman who is faced with a completely life-changing illness. But the story is not just for people who are sick, or even just for people who are caring for someone who is sick. It is a very touching story of mother, wife, friend, pet-owner, and law professor, who has to figure out how to enjoy living a life she never expected to live. Through self-discovery and her Buddhist practice, she discovers and shares with us how she has learned to appreciate her life as it is, and not how she wishes it could be.

For anyone who has ever struggled with dissatisfaction in their lives, and especially people who are dealing with chronic illness, this book will touch and inspire you
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on 11 October 2010
Wonderful. I expect this book to become a bedside bible for all those who are chronically sick . Toni Bernhard intertwines her own personal experience of ME/CFS with selected Buddhist exercises to nurture the body, mind and soul. Excellent, and a must buy for anyone who is chronically sick or indeed those caring for them.
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on 28 June 2014
In How to be Sick Toni Bernhard tells of how she used her Buddhist faith and understanding to accept living with a chronic disability.

I had been looking forward to reading this book for a very long time (despite having it on my shelf for months before I got to it) as I really enjoy Bernhard’s column at Psychology Today in which she gives advice to those with chronic disabilities, and their carers, revolving around Buddhism. I was expecting more of the same with How to be Sick, only more in-depth. Unfortunately I instead found that most of the book was, in my opinion, fluff (ie. extra words that weren’t necessary just to make the chapters longer).

The book starts with Bernhard’s personal journey with becoming ill on a holiday in Paris, and never recovering. She then goes on to explain a few fundamentals of Buddhism and examples of how she uses them. However, I felt that it was simply repetition of saying ‘so I started to think like that and it helped’, which isn’t actually very useful to the reader. I was really looking for actionable steps, due to it being described as ‘a Buddhist-inspired guide for the chronically ill and their caregivers’, and for me the book just didn’t deliver.

I did find some of the explanations of Buddhist ideas helpful, but I feel that I would just as easily be able to learn these online or using books dedicated to Buddhism. As so many of Bernhard’s examples simply explain what her mental and emotional state would be like without using Buddhism, I didn’t find many of them useful or explanatory.

Despite not finding the majority of the book up to my expectations, the final chapters did explain the difficulties people with chronic disabilities face, that most people may not be aware of, as well as giving suggestions on how to deal with specific problems (although, most of those suggestions involve nothing more than some positive statements to say to yourself).
Overall I was very disappointed with How to be Sick, and I personally didn’t find it worth my time, money or energy. However, for those with chronic disabilities and their carers, I still recommend reading Toni Bernhard’s column online if you are looking for a burst of inspiration, acceptance, and understanding.
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on 6 August 2012
A must have book for anyone with disharmony in their lives not just an illness . I'm already using ideas from the book with good success . It's not gonna make me better but it helps me step back from things alittle bit and helps me to loosen the grip the illness has on me mentally x
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on 25 January 2012
A marvellous introduction to Buddhism, specifically relating to those with, or caring for a person with a chronic illness. I read this book through and found it incredibly inspiring. I plan to read it again more carefully in order to better understand the Buddhist principles. I will then be passing it on to family and friends.
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on 3 August 2011
This book was recommended on a forum of sufferers who have the same chronic problem as I do. I wasn't keen on the idea of being coached as to 'how to be sick' as I've worked hard at transforming 'being sick' to managing and striving to overcome the obstacles and limitations that chronic pain throws at me, including depression. But I've soon discovered that the book is a great support and source of 'ah ha!' moments, and has been most helpful. Something to read again and again when things get hard. As a psychotherapist, retired for the last few years of my sickness, it was hard for me to 'heal myself' in the way that this book is helping; healing as in coming to terms and moving on with my sickness rather than remaining in denial and 'soldiering' on. I find the buddhist perspective incredibly helpful, something I am quite suprised about but for me, it works.
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on 23 September 2011
This book is a rarity - a truly helpful self help book. I read it in a few days while on leave trying to get a handle on the chronic headaches that had been causing me hell for several years and the doctors were very little help with. I'm now re-reading it chapter by chapter practicing the techniques and suggestions and it has helped me to become calmer and more accepting of my condition and to understand what I can and cannot change. This in turn has brought about an improvement in my symptoms that all of my desperate search for a simple cure had failed to do, and more importantly helped me to enjoy what I can do rather than concentrating on what I can't. I highly recommend it.
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on 1 January 2011
I bought this book having no real knowledge of what it was about, but a friend recommended it to me. I was excited when I first opened the cover, and read the first few pages-here was a lady on my wavelength, with my experiences and challenges!
Toni has put into simple terms (and believe me, I had no prior knowledge of buddhist practice!) some easy to practice and sensible techniques. I dip into her book time and again, to help me when I am having a 'wobble'! It doesn't do anything to fix my ailing body - but it sure helps me to feel better within, and to come to terms with my limitations!
All in all, I think this is an excellent read, and have recommended it to many friends.....
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on 26 October 2014
This is a beautifully written book for people who, through chronic illness, will not be their old self again, and for whom, at least for now, getting better is NOT possible. I came to this as a keen proponent of ‘mindfulness’ having been completely smitten by Vidyamala Burch’s groundbreaking book, 'Living Well with Pain and Illness'.

While this book explores Buddhist teaching in more detail than the latter, you don’t need to be a Buddhist yourself to learn from its teachings. Toni charts her own journey through ME, and in the process offers valuable lessons on acceptance (or noncontention if you prefer!) for those struggling to come to terms with a possibly life-long, fluctuating illness. A profoundly compassionate book. Highly recommended.
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