Above and Beyond Cancer A new book of unexpected stories of triumph and survival from the highest mountain in the world to the cornfields of Iowa produced through a community writing process

In a time when we could all use a dose of inspiration, Above and Beyond Cancer is just what the doctor ordered!

Inspired stories and stunning photographs will fill your heart and senses with hope.

This book is about the philosophical journeys of ordinary people—caregivers, patients, survivors and loved ones—whose lives have been touched by cancer. You’ll find excerpts from real-life narratives encompassing themes such as mortality, equity, surrender, compassion, and spiritual awe. Breathtaking professional photography accompanies the narratives, which captures a variety of human emotions and conditions of people across the globe as well as stunning vistas from the jagged peaks of Everest Base Camp to the quiet cornfields of Iowa. Featuring a foreword by Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa and insights by Dr. Richard Deming, founder of Above + Beyond Cancer, this book provides much needed wisdom and inspiration for our times.

All proceeds from sales of this book benefit current and future programs of Above + Beyond Cancer, an organization dedicated to elevating the lives of those touched by cancer.

This book was produced by Drake Community Press as a partnership between community and academia with over 100 students, faculty, and community members involved in its production. Over the course of two years, students and community members came together to be inspired by these stories and learn how to share their meaning with each other, with their friends and family, with Iowa, with the world, and now with you.

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.

About the photographer

About Drake Community Press

The book 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. A launch and book signing are scheduled for June 23rd at Franklin Junior High school in Des Moines, subject to COVID-19 limitations. All revenue from book sales will support cancer prevention and health & wellness programming across the state of Iowa.


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

June 23 @ 5:30 pm - 8:00 pm | EVENING OF INSPIRATION | Franklin Jr. High School 4801 Franklin Avenue, Des Moines

Read an excerpt

"Who are you when you aren’t paying attention to yourself? What stories do you tell yourself about who you are? Who are you when you introduce yourself to others?"

"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."



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.”

The Community Writing Process

The Drake Community Press is a curriculum-based publishing laboratory that serves a community readership on issues of interest & concern to Iowans. Our books promote collaborative action for community betterment, help select Iowa organizations advance their mission in the community and provide students with practical knowledge in book editing, design, and production.

A unique small-press publisher in the heart of Des Moines, Iowa, Drake Community Press features an undergraduate publishing laboratory at Drake University that “writes with” a selected non-profit community partner dedicated to community betterment. Previous titles include Zakery’s Bridge: Children’s Journeys From Around the World to the Heartland (2011), The Ones I Bring With Me/Los Que Llevo Conmigo (2014), and A Spectrum of Faith: Religions of the World in America’s Heartland (2017).