What I’m Reading This Week: Marv Taking Charge: A Story of Bold Love and Courage by Lois Hoitenga Roelofs

Why am I reading this book?

I follow Lois Roelofs’ blog: Write Along with Me, Blogging as a Retired Nurse. Lois is a wonderful writer, and I enjoy reading her blog. When I started following her blog, she was already a widow, having lost her husband, Marv Roelofs. I also knew she was writing a book because she would occasionally blog about the book’s progress. When her book was published in the spring of 2023, I wanted to read it because I knew it would be well written and because Marv’s story about how he chose to live with his terminal diagnosis is an important one. I’m over half way through Marv Taking Charge, and it is a well-written, informative, and touching story.

What is this book about?

In January 2018, while vacationing in Arizona, Marv receives a call from his pulmonologist, who tells him he has lung cancer, small cell, the very aggressive type. The doctor explains to Marv that he needs to start chemo right away. Marv answers, “I’m not interested in treatment,” then hands the phone to his wife, Lois, who is a nurse.

The doctor makes it clear to Lois that Marv’s cancer is terminal, but that he must start chemo right away in order to have a chance of more time. Marv doesn’t change his mind, and he and Lois continue their vacation in Arizona. When they return home, Marv is enrolled in hospice care. Then he and Lois set about living their lives. They visit family and friends, and they do the everyday activities they’ve always enjoyed. Marv has a lot of good days, but Lois also writes about the difficult times.

Why is this book important?

Many people, like Marv, will learn they have a terminal illness, and they will face decisions about how they want to live the rest of their lives. Currently, most terminally ill cancer patients are treated with chemo and radiation, not because treatment will provide a cure, but because it may extend their lives a few months. However, those extra months often come with a decreased quality of life because chemo and radiation are harsh treatments with potentially severe side effects. Marv chose quality of life over quantity, then he and Lois made the best of the days they had left together.

Cancer is talked about with words like fight and battle, and patients are described as courageous. However, Lois, agreeing with Atul Gwande, who wrote Being Mortal, says terminally ill patients should be asked what is important to them.

Marv’s answer to that question was to live out his days without the side effects of medical treatments that were not going to save his life.

[Lois Hoitenga Roelofs book Marv Taking Charge is available here.]

7 thoughts on “What I’m Reading This Week: Marv Taking Charge: A Story of Bold Love and Courage by Lois Hoitenga Roelofs

  1. You are welcome, Lois. I know that you’re donating profits to the hospice that helped care for Marv. Perhaps you have family and friends who would post a brief review for you on Amazon. They only have to write two or three sentences and award it the stars they wish to give it. It will help your book sales, which will in turn help others. I posted reviews of your book on Amazon and Goodreads. It will take several days for the reviews to be posted on Amazon. Enjoy your book tour! I’m sure it will mean a lot to many people who hear you talk about Marv and your book.


      • One of the things I really connected to in your memoir was what happened to Marv when the cancer impacted his brain toward the end of his life. I have a dear friend whose husband died of small cell lung cancer that metastasized to his brain. And after reading your book, I better understood what my friend and her husband went through.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Thanks, Victoria Lynn Smith, for this review of “Marv Taking Charge”! | Write Along with Me

Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s