We created the Bookshelf for a place to highlight CaringBridge website authors who have written books about their health journey. Some people publish a book to close a chapter, and others publish a book as a way to honor and grieve the loss of a loved one. If you are a CaringBridge website author or co-author who has written a book about your experience, and would like to have your book appear in this list, please send us an email at


Happiness: A Memoir: The Crooked Little Road to Semi-Ever After

By Heather Harpham

In Heather Harpham’s memoir “Happiness,” she takes readers on a captivating journey of love, partnership, parenthood, and the unimaginable choices she is forced to make while navigating life with her daughter, Gracie, who has a rare blood disease.

Life leads them down an unexpected path, with bumps and curves in the road, that ultimately makes them all stronger.

The idea for this memoir was sparked from Gracie’s CaringBridge website, where Heather shared updates with her family and friends.

“Happiness” radiates out in multiple directions – new, romantic love; gratitude for a beautiful, inscrutable world; deep and abiding friendship; the passion a parent has for a child; and the many different and unlikely ways a family can be built.

Ultimately, it’s a story about love and happiness in their many crooked forms.

What Now

What Now! A Pivotal Story of Love, Family and the Miracle of People

By Chrissie Betlach Vinje

Chrissie Betlach Vinje recalls the unconditional love and support that she and her husband, Tom, received, after his diagnosis of glioblastoma multiforme, the worst kind of brain cancer.

In “What Now!” Chrissie captures the essence of Tom’s CaringBridge Journal, in which family and friends rallied around the couple during the 7 months of Tom’s illness.

After Tom’s death in 2008, less than a year after the complete disruption of Tom and Chrissie’s happy and “ordinary” life, loved ones encouraged Chrissie to write about Tom’s health journey, and her path toward healing, in the wake of unspeakable grief.

Be Strong and Brave

Be Strong and Brave

By Nicole Pierson

Diagnosed before his sixth birthday, in 2012, with a rare brain tumor (growing mature teratoma), Gavin Pierson told his parents, “I’m going to make it, you just have to believe.”

Over the course of multiple craniotomies, chemotherapy, steroid and clinical-trial drug treatments and a series of laser ablations, Gavin named his tumor “Joe Bully,” because it continued to break the rules and threaten his life.

In “Be Strong and Brave,” Gavin’s Mom, Nicole, writes about her family’s faith and her son’s amazing perspective.

By spring 2017, Gavin had earned a red belt in karate and was thinking about middle school. Take that, Joe Bully!

We Know How This Ends

We Know How This Ends: Living While Dying

By Bruce Kramer, with Cathy Wurzer

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as ALS and Lou Gehrig’s Disease) was not in the life plan of Bruce Kramer.

But the former dean of the College of Education, Leadership and Counseling at the University of St. Thomas, in St. Paul, Minn., chose to transform a crushing diagnosis, in 2010, into a reflection on how life can be lived, even in the midst of devastating grief.

Bruce, also a CaringBridge author, collaborated with Cathy Wurzer, an award-winning broadcast journalist with Minnesota Public Radio on “We Know How This Ends.”

The book is an equally dignified, courageous, and even funny look at the ways in which loss can lead to healing. Bruce died in 2015, just as the book was published.

Cathy and Bruce’s wife, Ev, remain engaged in public conversations about wellbeing and caregiving.

When Breath Becomes Air

When Breath Becomes Air

By Dr. Paul Kalanithi

After neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi, of California, received a diagnosis of stage IV lung cancer in May 2013, he began to write about his illness, and the process of being sick, as a patient rather than a doctor.

“When Breath Becomes Air,” published 10 months after Dr. Kalanithi’s death in March 2015, captures the essence of life and living from a scientific perspective.

But it is the young husband and father’s attempt to answer the question, “What makes a life worth living?” that touches the soul. Dr. Lucy Kalanithi, Paul’s widow, wrote the epilogue for the book, which became a #1 New York Times bestseller.

She remains engaged in writing and speaking, at a national level, about caregiving, end-of-life care, bereavement, resilience and meaning in medicine.

Camp Chemo: Postcards Home From Metastatic Breast Cancer

By Camille Scheel

Camille Scheel of St. Paul, MN, began writing on her CaringBridge website in 2007, after being diagnosed, at age 38, with Stage III lobular carcinoma — breast cancer. (She passed away on Aug. 26, 2017.)

After multiple surgeries, chemo, and radiation, she came to accept that the cancer isn’t going away.

She writes in “Camp Chemo,” “Cancer changed my world dramatically, but I still have goals to accomplish and ideas to explore. I know my future plans will unfold slowly and not always according to schedule. But today is a good day. My pain level is minimal. My mobility is good. I’m well-rested. A newly FDA-approved medication is keeping the cancer asleep. My husband and kids are healthy. Those are blessings to be celebrated.”