A few months ago, we asked FOFs to tell us about the charities and organizations that are most important to them. FOF Shirley Enebrad responded to our call. “My little boy Cory was diagnosed with leukemia at age three. He died right after his ninth birthday,” said Shirley. “One of the things he made me promise before he died was for me to help other parents going through the same difficulties that we faced alone.” As part of this mission, Shirley joined and eventually became the president of the Candlelighter’s Childhood Cancer Foundation of Western WA, a support system and organization for families facing childhood cancer. She also wrote a book about her experiences called Over the Rainbow Bridge. Here, FOF book guru Katherine Watson shares her review of Shirley’s story.
In a nutshell, what is this book about?
Over the Rainbow Bridge follows author Shirley Enebrad on an emotional roller coaster as she deals with divorce and then, being the single parent of a terminally-ill child. In the book, Shirley recounts the years she spent advocating for and protecting her nine-year-old son Cory, who was plagued with cancer and suffered through painful chemotherapy treatments. Cory made the decision to terminate chemotherapy and end his life naturally and Shirley supported his decision.
What is the genre of this book?
It is an autobiography. Shirley tells her own story with Cory’s story weaved throughout.
Did you enjoy it?
I can’t say I enjoyed the book. It isn’t easy or pleasant to read about a suffering child. However, Shirley does a nice job of showing what Cory contributed during his short life on earth, including his words of wisdom and his description of heaven and God.
Was it a page turner, or did you have to push through it?
The issue of allowing a child to decide to end chemotherapy, motivated me to continue reading.
What part did you like most? What part did you like least?
This book helped me understand the thought processes of a grieving parent. Shirley is confronted by medical personnel who have been trained to sustain life and heal and are not always equipped to deal with emotions of patients and families.
Would you recommend this to other FOFs? Did you find yourself telling friends about the book as you were reading it?
I work in a hospital setting with pastoral care and social workers. The nurses and hospital workers I spoke with feel they deal enough with death and dying in their professional lives and would not choose this book for relaxing reading. If someone is prepared to make the emotional investment needed to read about a terminally ill child, then this is a remarkable story.
Any other thoughts you’d like to share . . . ?
This book confronts a tough ethical issue that parents of terminally ill children wrestle with — letting your child choose to end treatment. Shirley let Cory choose and he made the decision to end life naturally. Shirley’s decision was an insightful and selfless act, in my opinion, but other readers might argue he was too young to make the decision himself or that she gave up hope. Shirley was self-assured and proud of how she handled matters. Since people have different cultural backgrounds, belief systems and needs to give them direction, I’d hesitate to give this book to a parent of a terminally ill child.
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