Book Review: I Want to Help: My Story About Cancer, Depression, and God
Title: I Want to Help: My Story About Cancer, Depression, and God
Author: Tom Laresca
Publisher: Dorrance Publishing
Tom Laresca lived an average life in a quiet American town: a good job as a stock trader, a wife, a family, a beautiful home. Then in 2001, his life changed.
While living in Boca Raton, Florida, Laresca explains, “I was wrongly arrested and abused by the police. I had been an athlete in high school and college, and had never been in trouble with the law before or since in my professional career as a stock trader. I was put into intensive care, due mainly to being maced for thirty minutes while being pinned down, handcuffed and hogtied. These events all happened in front of my own home in an exclusive gated community.”
Following the assault, Laresca says his main focus was to get the charges against him dropped. “For years, I spent time and money on lawyers to make this happen. The police wanted me to sign a pre-trial intervention (PTI) document, which would make the charges go away but with me assuming part of the guilt. But I didn’t want to do that; I wanted them to admit what they did. I spent years fighting the PTI. Even though the charges finally went away, I never found out what happened, and the police were never questioned or investigated. This all took lots of time and money, and I had to miss work.”
During this period, Laresca was diagnosed with cancer in three parts of his body and faced the grim possibility that he might only have three months to live. After his treatment and recovery, he then fought a battle with depression.
“Something told me to write about it.” he says. “I wrote the book in one night, sent it out to publishers, and went with the first publisher who answered.”
The book, I WANT TO HELP: MY STORY ABOUT CANCER, DEPRESSION, AND GOD, is a tiny book which, as Laresca says, “is written with the sole purpose of helping others overcome any struggles they may be going through. Not that everyone will go through something as severe as I did, but I believe that most people at some time are struggling with something.”
“The book begins with me learning I had been diagnosed with cancer in three parts of my body. I recount what it felt like to receive the news from my doctor, coupled with the grim possibility that I may have three months to live. I talk about my hospital stay, my fight to stay healthy, both physically and mentally, but most of all spiritually.
“Next, I tell of going through chemotherapy treatments and on to recovery, only to be brought down by what I can only say was crippling depression. I go on to thank God for getting me through all this. Because the truth is that God brought me through it all, and He is waiting to help you with anything you are going through.”
Laresca remembers that as a child, he read Norman Vincent Peale’s The Power of Positive Thinking. “There were two things that stuck with me: ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,’ and ‘If God is for us, who can be against us?’ Those helped me through everything, and I use this [philosophy] every day.”
At twenty pages, I WANT TO HELP: MY STORY ABOUT CANCER, DEPRESSION, AND GOD is so short, Laresca says, because he worked long hours, had three kids, and not a lot of time. Still, he adds, people who have read it tell him that it’s helped them in some way, and that he’s heard that grownups have given the book to their children.
These days, Tom Laresca is much more relaxed, especially now that he’s written the book. “If reading it can help just one person,” he says, “I’ll be happy.”
Tom Laresca got the news everyone dreads: you have cancer. After chemo, he remained cancer-free but what he didn’t expect was the depression that set in afterwards. I only had one person in my whole family get cancer – breast cancer. She, unfortunately, didn’t survive and it’s funny when you’re a kid and you learn that someone one in your family has cancer, it makes you wonder if you’re going to be next. But what if you’re next? Who knows where cancer will strike next? Even if you beat it, are there other things that beat you up (as if the chemo treatments aren’t enough) like depression? You don’t know because you’ve never been there, but Tom Laresca was there and ended up writing a book about it called I Want to Help: My Story About Cancer, Depression, and God.
It’s a very tiny book but the message is loud and clear. Laresca takes us on this painful journey during depression following chemo and helps us to understand there is a way out – God. If you’re not overly religious, here me out. The very ending of the book will have such an emotional POW on you that once you put it down, you’ll say wow (which I did). Not giving anything away, if you’re into out of body experiences, this would be right up your alley for it’s the ending of the book that pulls everything together.
It’s something to be said though – big things come in little packages. I’ll guarantee you won’t forget his story.