Above and Beyond Cancer From the world's most breathtaking altitudes to the quiet cornfields of Iowa—candor, insight and inspiration by survivors of cancer and those who care for them

a new book from the Drake Community Press

Launching May 2020

In a time when we could all use a dose of inspiration, we're bringing you just what the doctor ordered.

A collection of more than 100 voices accentuated by stunning photographs that illuminate journeys of physical and emotional transformation.

A book of alternately magnificent and formidable peaks and valleys that will take you on your own journey ...

....through the eyes of young and old, survivors and caregivers, friends and strangers.

Inspired by the cancer journeys of decades of patients and their families, radiation oncologist Dr. Richard Deming teamed up with photographer Dylan Huey and the Drake Community Press to create Above and Beyond Cancer.

Our book is about the philosophical journeys of ordinary people —caregivers, patients, survivors and loved ones— whose lives have been touched by cancer.

In these pages, you’ll find excerpts from real-life narratives, many of them stories of survivors and caregivers who joined Dr. Deming in recent years on treks to some of the worlds highest altitudes, including Mt. Everest Base Camp, Mt. Kailash in Tibet, and the High Himalayas. Their stories encompass themes of mortality, equity, surrender, compassion, spiritual awe and more.

Huey’s photography captivates and transforms the reader from an observer to a traveler.

We're all on our own journeys, be they physical, emotional, or spiritual. And whether we're with others or alone...

... we need each other to make it through the peaks and valleys.

This book was produced as part of a two-year partnership between Drake Community Press and the local non-profit organization, Above + Beyond Cancer. Over 100 students, faculty, and community contributors helped make it possible.

There are probably easier ways to produce a book.

But at the Drake Community Press, our motto is writing with.

Perhaps no other process touches so many lives before it is even brought to print.

And now we would like to touch your life too.

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 2012 dedicated to elevating the lives of those touched by cancer. 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.

"Like a hug, compassion is reciprocal. I get what I give. And there is no limit to the world’s supply of compassion. It isn’t going to run out. In fact, it is self-generating. In my practice as a physician, it became clear to me that treating patients with compassion—true and deeply felt compassion that springs from the desire to provide healing—has the capacity to improve a patient’s quality of life." Richard L. Deming, M.D.

About the Photographer


Over the years, I have learned so much about the world and myself through my work with clients, especially Above + Beyond Cancer. The chance to see the world through the lens of cancer patients and their caregivers has been a gift. It has pushed me out of my comfort zone at times, but it has always shown me what I am capable of. I hope these photographs and stories allow you to see the world through the eyes of ABC, a world of hope and compassion.

Above and Beyond Cancer 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. All revenue from book sales will support cancer prevention and health & wellness programming across the state of Iowa.

About THE Drake Community Press

A unique small-press publisher located in the heart of Iowa at Drake University, Drake Community Press, “writes with” a selected local non-profit partner dedicated to community betterment. Since 2011, our books have shared compelling stories of Iowans, raised many thousands of dollars in support of our non-profit partners, and provided students with practical knowledge in book editing, design, and production.


Above + Beyond Cancer is a public non-profit organization dedicated to elevating the lives of those touched by cancer. We believe that a cancer diagnosis can be an opportunity for positive change, with an emphasis on health, healing, and purpose. Founded in 2011 by oncologist Dr. Richard L. Deming, Above + Beyond Cancer offers innovative programs for cancer survivors based on learning that transforms mind, body, and spirit.

events coming soon

May 9 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm | EVENING OF INSPIRATION | Above + Beyond Cancer will be holding a virtual Zoom program

May 15 @ 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm | DRAKE COMMUNITY PRESS BOOK LAUNCH | The Drake Community Press will be holding a virtual Zoom program

June 5 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm | DYLAN HUEY MAINFRAME STUDIOS GALLERY SHOWING | Mainframe Studios 900 Keosauqua Way, Des Moines

from the introduction

"No doubt about it, the three little words 'You have cancer' have the power to transform the story of your life, the diagnosis rippling through the circle of your family and friends. But is your identity bound to the fact of a few abnormal cells lurking within your body? Cancer is transformative, but it doesn’t have to be a transformation to something worse. How can we incorporate a cancer diagnosis into our identity? And how does that identity affect our outlook on the world? Cancer survivors face such questions every day, along with decisions about treatment, dealing with the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation, the need to continue generating an income and the press of all of life’s other responsibilities."

praise for above and beyond cancer


With a brain for hard science and a heart for the humanities and arts, Dr. Richard Deming skillfully combines themes of grief, survival, reconciliation and love in this simply extraordinary new collection….Framing each chapter with a personal story, readers see the doctor become the patient, the teacher become the student, and the expert admit that there are things in this universe that are simply unknowable.The breath-taking photos feed the eyes from page to page while the brief writings from cancer survivors and their families pull you into their stories, offering unexpected musings on life, death and everything in between.


It isn’t often you feel uplifted by a book about people facing death…. Instead of the old war metaphors about “fighting” an illness, Deming prefers a mountain-climbing analogy. He calls on us to push past the physical and mental limitations, one step at a time….This book shows the power of courage and community, resilience and love in the face of our mortality. In Deming’s words, “We should all choose to live like we were dying.”

“There is a real person, not just a patient, who needs to be heard.” — Richard L. Deming. M.D.

special thanks to our generous supporters

W. T. and Edna M. Dahl Trust

Richard L. Deming, M.D.

Drake Center for the Humanities

Fred & Charlotte Hubbell Family Charitable Fund

G. David Hurd & Trudy Holman Hurd Fund

Douglas and Deborah West

Mike Simonson - Given in memory of Charlie Cutler

Cynthia Thorland & Fritz Weitz Charitable Fund

Medicap, Inc.

Drake College of Arts & Sciences

Drake Office of the Provost

Brendon and Christine Comito

Chris and Dawn Goodale

Elliott and Kay Smith