Discussion Questions for those reading the book or wanting to read this as part of a book club.
I was diagnosed with cancer in the 8th grade, so I feel it is appropriate for children as young as 13 to read this book.
Chapter 1 – Miracles Do Happen
• Carolyn says everyone has a defining moment in their life. Has something ever happened in your life that changed the way you viewed the world or caused you to change paths?
• Have you ever thought someone you knew well, a parent, friend, or teacher, didn’t believe you? How did that make you feel?
• Have you ever pretended something was ok when really it wasn’t? What happened – did you eventually tell the truth?
• Did you ever not believe someone and then find out it was true? What did you do?
• Has there been a time in your life when you have struggled and felt isolated?
How did that make you feel?
• What is the worst pain you have ever felt? How long did it last? How did you cope with it?
• Describe a time God answered your prayers?
Chapter 2 – The C Word
• Has a priest or counselor ever impacted your life and offered much-needed support? How did it change you?
• Carolyn said pain ruled her life. What rules your life?
• Do you have someone from whom you have received helpful advice?
• Do you know anyone who has been diagnosed with cancer or a life-threatening illness? How has that affected you? Were you aware of what they were experiencing? If so, how did you know?
• Carolyn grabbed her stuffed animals as she left for the hospital. What would you grab if you only had a few minutes to grab something that would comfort you?
Chapter 3 – Initial Hospitalization
• Carolyn’s life turned upside down. During covid, did your world seem to turn upside down? What was the biggest initial change to which you had to adjust? Did someone help you during this time?
• Think about the last time you were sick. Now think about that lasting 2 ½ years; what are your thoughts?
• What did Carolyn and her mom make a list of each night? Have you ever thought of making a list like that?
• How do you think Carolyn felt when she said her diagnosis changed her life?
Chapter 4 – Staff Who Just Don’t Get It
• How do you cope with dealing with difficult people?
• How can you tell if someone has heard you?
• Why don’t you think Carolyn’s mom didn’t know where things were in the hospital?
• Have you ever had someone in charge not understand you or your point of view?
o How did it make you feel?
o Were you able to do anything about it?
• Have you ever been the one in charge that didn’t take the time to discover another’s point of view?
o Is there anything you would do differently now?
Chapter 5 – Treatment
• What do you do when you are bored?
• How do you fill your time when you have to wait?
• How do you distract yourself when facing something unpleasant like going to the dentist or getting a shot?
• When you are faced with something you don’t want to do or are scared to do. Are you a “just let’s get this over with, or I need time to think about this” person?
• Remember, there was no technology in 1994 to connect with others. If you didn’t have the internet to connect with others or play games to spend time, what do you think you would be doing to fill in the hours so you wouldn’t get bored?
Chapter 6 – God Works in Mysterious Ways
• Have you ever experienced a miracle or know someone who has?
• Do you believe in angels?
• Have you ever had to convince someone you were right when everyone thought you were wrong?
o How hard was it, and what did you do?
Chapter 7 – Control
• How do you seek control in your life?
• How do you feel when someone tells you that you have to do something, even though you don’t want to?
• Do you control your life? If not, who does?
Chapter 8 – Family
• How has your life changed with the news someone was extremely ill? How was the life of your family and friends changed?
• Think about a time when your life changed. Which changes were good? Which changes had a negative impact?
Chapter 9 – Friendships
• Are you still friends with your childhood friends? If not, have you ever thought about reaching out to them?
• What does being a friend mean to you?
• Has anyone stopped being your friend due to a misunderstanding? Were you able to resolve the issue and mend the friendship?
• How do you support your friends?
Chapter 10 – School
• What were your teen years like? Did you feel you fit in, or were you an outsider?
• Is being popular important to you?
• Have you ever made fun of someone or been made fun of? How did that make you feel? How do you think that made the other person feel?
• What are/were your priorities in school…how have they changed?
• What are/were your expectations in high school? What if a cancer diagnosis prevented you from having those experiences? How would that make you feel?
• What could you do to help another student fit in?
Chapter 11 – The Happiest Place on Earth
• What are your happy places?
• What about these places makes you happy?
• How often do you go to your happy place?
• Do you invite others there?
Chapter 12 – Dolphins
• How often do you laugh?
• Do you know someone who always makes you laugh?
• Have you ever helped someone to make a good decision? How did that make you feel?
• Do you laugh at others? Or with others?
Chapter 13 – Bald Is Beautiful
• Is there a time in your life when you did something to help a cause?
• Have you ever been bald due to cancer or know someone who was? What are your thoughts concerning this?
• When you look in a mirror, do you see your beautiful qualities, or do you struggle with self-esteem?
• Do you think you could shave your head to support someone else?
• What would you be willing to do to support someone?
Chapter 14 – Walking Away
• Has there been a time in your life when you felt like walking away? Did you? What made you stay?
• Have you ever been given a job and then criticized for what you did or how you performed? How did you feel? Did you give up or make changes to please another or yourself?
• Have you ever felt you had to hide a part of yourself from someone?
Chapter 15 – Velvet
• Have you ever experienced a role reversal? How did it make you feel? Did it give you a greater appreciation for the other person?
• Have you ever had a pet that changed your life?
• Did you ever have an event you didn’t understand the purpose for and then find out years later that event prepared you for something later in life?
Chapter 16 – Death
• How do you view death…is it a sad event or a celebration of life?
• Does death scare you? If it does, who can you talk to about it?
• We all live in mortal time. What can you do now to live your best life?
• Have you ever had to say goodbye to someone you loved? How do you keep their memory alive?
Chapter 17 – Depression
• Carolyn experienced many storms in her life. We each experience storms in our lives; how have you weathered storms in the past?
• So often, we think we can fix the storms in our lives by burrowing down from the wind and rain. But if we have strong roots, we will endure the storm. Do you feel like your faith has strong roots?
• Does music help calm you or change your mood?
• Have you ever been or had a good friend help you through a storm?
• Do you have someone to talk to if you are feeling depressed?
• Please talk about the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, available 7 days a week/24hrs a day by calling 988. Suicide is NOT the answer.
Chapter 18 – Trusting God
• If you could ask God for one thing right now, what would it be?
• How do you pray? Do you say formal prayers or informal ones?
• What are your thoughts on the Footprint Prayer? Are there any other prayers that help you?
Chapter 19 – Being A Survivor
• We are all survivors of something; what makes you a survivor?
• Do you know a childhood cancer survivor? Do you know any cancer survivors?
Chapter 20 – Live Life, Love Life, Cherish Every Moment
• How can you spread hope in this world?
• Do you have a bucket list? What is something on it that you can do now? What is preventing you from completing your list?
• What have you done to inspire someone?
• Has anyone ever inspired you?
• What part of the book did you enjoy the most?
• Did anything in the book surprise you?
• What did you learn from the book?
• Is there anything we did not discuss that you would like to?
• Have any of your personal views changed because of this book? If so, how?
• Share a favorite quote from the book. Why did this quote stand out?
• If you got the chance to ask the author of this book one question, what would it be?
• What was your biggest takeaway from the book?