Book Review: What Doesn’t Kill You By Rachel Haynes

**We were gifted a copy of this book in return for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are our own**

Today’s book review is slightly different from my usual style as not only is it a non-fiction title, which I rarely read, but it’s also centred on a topic close to home for my family. What Doesn’t Kill You is the personal memoir of bowel cancer survivor Rachel Haynes, following her journey from diagnosis to cure and everything in between.

Something I haven’t discussed before on my blog is my husbands recent battle with secondary cancer after relapsing four years after his original diagnosis. Having spent six months enduring multiple surgeries and a gruelling regime of chemo he is back on a surveillance plan, however like every major event in your life, it’s certainly changed everything for us as a family. Whilst in the midst of his treatment Alisa Stuart from Watkins Publishing asked if I’d be interested in reviewing Rachel’s book and I jumped at the chance, hoping that it would help me gain a deeper understanding of the emotional and physiological impact his cancer journey has had on my husband.

The months since his diagnosis have been like a whirlwind and it has meant this book has taken a while to get to, however today I’m thrilled to be able to share my thoughts with you. Thank you again to Watkins Publishing for gifting me a copy of this book.

About The Book

Rachel Haynes survived bowel cancer, not once, but twice. This is her story about facing treatment, the joy of remission, followed by the heartbreak of relapse and finally unexpectedly a cure.

Rachel reflects on the messy psychological legacy of survival in all its raw highs and lows. And of her overwhelming urge to finally make sense of a life she never thought she would see. With taboo-breaking humour and honesty, she vividly describes her experience of cancer, the impact it has on her loved ones alongside a tender description of how life has brought her full circle back to love.

It is a rallying call to wake up to what s important in life and to never give up hope. A quest to get to the answer of what to do when you have a second chance at life. Rachel Haynes faced a 7% chance of survival when she was diagnosed with advanced bowel cancer at the age of 45.

All profits from the book will be donated to Bowel Cancer UK. What lies beneath survival is the realisation that the end of treatment is not the end of the story.


What Doesn’t Kill You offers a personal, honest and relateable insight into the rollercoaster ride author Rachel Haynes found herself on when she was unexpectedly diagnosed with bowel cancer. With two young children to care for she suddenly found herself thrown into non-stop rounds of tests, surgery and hospital appointments within only a few weeks of visiting the GP, unable to even pause for breath,

The first half of this story concentrates mainly on those physical, tangible aspects of Rachel’s diagnosis and the treatment she received. The second half however offers a much deeper insight into how her mental health and emotional well being fared throughout, especially with her relapse and subsequent terminal diagnosis. It also details the effects her cancer journey has had on those closest to her.

As the wife of a cancer patient I have to say how honest and relateable I found the descriptions of the discussions with doctors and surgeons, as well as the fear and never ending waits for results. I could feel myself back in the rooms at the hospital and could empathise with every emotion weaved within the pages.  It was also eye opening for me to read the experience from the other side of the fence, as whilst I was there and help my husbands hand every step of the way he was the one actually having to go through it all.

However, despite the topic of this book, which could equate to a morbid read, I absolutely loved the message of hope and positivity that Rachel offers throughout. With the help of humour,a little wine and the unwavering support of her family she manages to offer an outlook of hope even at her lowest ebb, whilst still being brutally honest. There are plenty of poignant, emotional moments contained in this story, however it’s a wonderful read that I highly recommend to anyone who wants a ‘tell it like it is’ account of a cancer warrior’s journey. If you have been through cancer yourself or know someone who has this is such a great book to pick up.

On a personal level I found this book it really insightful and it has definitely helped me to understand some of how my husband must be feeling now his treatment is complete. I may have walked beside him throughout, but fully understand that our experiences are different. Thank you to Rachel for sharing her story so openly and I think it’s absolutely marvellous that all profits are being donated to Bowel Cancer UK.

About The Author

Rachel Haynes met her husband 6 weeks before she relapsed with stage 4 bowel cancer again. Miraculously she survived and lives happily (spoiler alert) with her husband.
She wrote ‘What doesn’t kill you…’ to give hope to anyone wanting to find anyone alive and well 5 years on from an advanced cancer diagnosis and also to talk about what surviving a life sentence like this does to you, both the ups and the downs.
After surviving cancer, she decided to leave her job as a Marketing Director for a software company and set up her own branding agency which she runs successfully with her brother. Rachel has also recently trained as a transformational coach to help cancer survivors find new purpose after the treatment has ended. She is also donating all profits from this book to the charity Bowel Cancer UK.

Her two children who were 11 and 13 when she was first diagnosed and lived their teenage years in the shadow of cancer have also gone on to train in both mental health nursing and as a medical student.

Her first book The C List was written in 2012 and just as the book was being published, she relapsed. Promising her friend, she would live to finish the story, this follow up includes for context an edited version of the story with part 1 – telling the story of physical survival and a new section part 2 – dealing with the aftermath, psychological survival.

What Doesn’t Kill You is available to purchase now from Amazon*

*This post contains affiliate links

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s