New local book shares unexpected stories of the journey of cancer

In a time when we could all use a dose of inspiration, Above and Beyond Cancer, the new book from the Drake Community Press, is just what the doctor ordered.

Oncologist Richard L. Deming teamed up with professional photographer Dylan Huey and Drake University students to produce a collection of more than 100 voices accentuated by stunning full-color photographs that illuminate the difficult journey of a cancer diagnosis and the opportunity it provides for profound personal transformation.

Unique to this 171-page collection are excerpts from the narratives of cancer patients, survivors and caregivers who joined Dr. Deming on mountain treks he has led since 2011 to some of the world’s most breathtaking altitudes, including Mt. Everest Base Camp, Machu Picchu, Mt. Kilimanjaro, the High Himalayas and Mt. Kailish in Tibet. Down from the mountain, contributors reflect in heartfelt, often unexpected, ways about the shock of a diagnosis or summoning resilience, interspersed with moments of humor, camaraderie and spiritual uplift. Huey’s photography captures the alternately magnificent and formidable peaks and valleys of the physical journey as well as the inner journey these travelers have undertaken—a glimpse of emotion crossing the face of a tired hiker, or a stirring moment of compassion between two former strangers.

“With a brain for science and a heart for the humanities,” writes Des Moines Register columnist Courtney Crowder in her review of Above and Beyond Cancer, Dr. Deming, “skillfully combines themes of grief, survival, reconciliation and love in this simply extraordinary new collection.”

The production of Above and Beyond Cancer was a two-year journey for more than 100 collaborators who come together as the Drake Community Press, an academic-community partnership of Drake University students, faculty and inspired members of Des Moines community.

Ordering details: The book is available online and through independent booksellers in a high-quality paperback edition priced at $30 or a Smythe-sewn jacketed hardcover priced at $50. Click here to purchase the book online for mid-May 2020 delivery. A virtual launch is scheduled for Saturday, May 9 via Zoom. To find out more about that event you may go to Book Launch Ticket. All revenue from book sales will support cancer prevention and health & wellness programming across the state of Iowa.

About the author: Dr. Richard L. Deming is medical director of MercyOne Cancer Center in Des Moines, Iowa and founder of Above + Beyond Cancer, a non-profit organization founded in 2011, that is dedicated to elevating the lives of those touched by cancer, to create a healthier world. He is the recipient of numerous awards recognizing his excellence and compassion as a cancer physician and his commitment to improving the quality of life for Iowans and their communities. Above and Beyond Cancer is his first book.

About Drake Community Press: A unique small-press publisher in the heart of Des Moines, Iowa, Drake Community Press features an undergraduate publishing laboratory at Drake University that “writes with” a selected non-profit community partner dedicated to community betterment. Previous titles include Zakery’s Bridge: Children’s Journeys From Around the World to the Heartland (2011), The Ones I Bring With Me/Los Que Llevo Conmigo (2014), and A Spectrum of Faith: Religions of the World in America’s Heartland (2017).