Wednesday, March 13, 2013

To the End & Back

The best thing about RE-reading a book is, the 'digging' ~ deepening part,  which comes after I have internalized the message the author wishes to convey and how it relates to my own life.

It felt like I just had a conversation with a good friend after I first read this book by my favorite street photographer, blogger and cancer survivor, Aaron Offord. 

I haven't visited him for a long time since I reposed from the social media sites, but I immediately took the opportunity to 'know' how he was doing after his transplant by reflecting on his book.

I took off my sandals as I entered his sacred space which he graciously shares with everybody.

He is, first of all, my friend. He has inspired me in many ways from the time I met him in 2011 through his blog Aaron Outward,  until now as I journey through his transition to a 'healed' Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia survivor.

It struck me that the book pulsates LIFE. As I read his story, he was 'blessing' me all throughout with his words. 

I highlighted several remarkable quotes in his book:

"The leukemia was just a part of my story, the real story is 
my journey in its entirety." (3)

"The only difference between a cancer diagnosis and any other challenge  in life is 
the topic of mortality." (7)

"Don't wait until a tragedy to make changes in your life... 
make your changes now." (12)

I chose them because they speak volumes. There are several others you could find in the book.

His life was filled with the 4 P's of Positivity (on p.28-):


His question reverberated my thoughts, "What is the purpose of my life?" (p.34) What am  I here for? 

I was bewildered at that part where Aaron wrote, "Who says we can't joke about cancer?" (p.7) I remembered an old acquaintance whom I met in the office. We didn't know how else to approach him when he was diagnosed of prostatic cancer. He warded off any greetings from us. Aaron threw me off with the perspective of a celebration when his hair was shaved off. 

I was amazed by his reactions ~ they were altogether human, emotionally inclined, and yet I sense that 'strong spirit' that thrives in him. He always had a 'goal' in mind.  Find out how his Mathematics Magic (p.36-37) works.

I acquiesce that 'you can't force anything' (p.34). He referred to momentary blocks that we encounter. I reflected on growth.  His solution: take that proverbial nap. This reminded me so much of Elijah when he fled to Horeb (1 Kings 19:1-5 NIV).

It is very edifying how he is always 'moved' to 'create' and take up 'new' hobbies in between. 

And finally, he led me to be more grateful to LIFE, for all that is.

There are so much more to share and say about this book. It speaks of faith, courage, hope, determination, grace... experiences, life lessons, personal freedom... the rest I leave up to you to add when you read this book.  

And hopefully, we could enrich each other with your own experiences as well. It is a book for everybody.

'To the End & Back' is a gift I'll treasure. 

My reflections did not end when I closed the book...  I opened my windows and breathed the opportunity that awaits me to live a better life.

The book is available at Aaron's blog, Aaron Outward: To the End and Back (ebook)


*Aaron, it is great to be surrounded by 'loving' people. I admire them for being with you all throughout your journey. And I admire you for your openness and that capacity to embrace the challenge that was given you. God bless always!

Blogs:      Aaron Outward
                Aaron Offord Photography Blog
Twitter:   @AaronOutward


  1. Thank you, Melissa, for giving us insight into Aaron's courage and grace in facing cancer. What an inspiration! So glad the book gave so much to your heart and soul.
    Blessings, dear friend!

    1. Thank you dear Martha. Remember you told me that wonderful things happen at the right time. I do believe so ~ my friendship with Aaron was revived and his reflections edified my soul.

      Lots of love to you dear friend.

  2. Thank you for sharing this with us souls sis. I have visited Aaron's blog on and off and I am back always in awe of his courage and spirit.

    1. I hope you'll read his book soul sis :) I have also taken time off to visit blogs but I'll surely be looking forward to read Aaron's again :) Lots of love!

  3. He does sound like a very inspiring person. His courage and wisdom are truly admirable. Went over to his blog and downloaded his ebook. I do hope I will be able to finish it as I have a lot of books left unfinished. Thanks for sharing about Aaron, Melissa. <3 :-)

    1. And oh, it's just a short book! I think I'll be able to read it from cover to cover! :-)

    2. You will enjoy it :) I'll also be sharing it with the friends I've been visiting who are undergoing chemotherapy.

      I love the fact that great minds are developed through challenges :)

      Lots of love always!

  4. I love the 4 P's. It's amazing how God uses someone to speak to us, through their challenges. I definitely need to read this book. What a blessing Aaron is to so many. Praise God!!!

    1. Thanks Lisa :) He is an angel. Yes, praise be to God always!