My Brother’s Shadows: A Journey of Faith in the Midst of Tragedy
Please note that the printed version of this book is no longer available to purchase through this website. It is, however, still in print. If you would like to find out how to obtain a copy of this book, please contact the author Hayley Reynolds (firstname.lastname@example.org; 0423 760 240).
My Brother’s Shadows was launched on Wednesday 12 June at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, St Andrew’s Place, Melbourne.
Hayley was 22 years old when her brother Wayne, then 16, was diagnosed with leukaemia, cancer of the blood. Within a few weeks Wayne also contracted a deadly fungal infection in his sinus, which spread to his left eye and then into his brain.
In this book, Hayley recounts the emotional journey she and her family took as Wayne fought his illnesses, before he tragically passed away 18 months later. It is filled with amazing courage and faith amidst pain and suffering, and finally points towards the ultimate source of hope itself.
To download an mp3 file of Leigh Hatcher’s interview with Hayley Reynolds on his Open House radio program, click here.
Review by Sheelagh Wegman
Hayley Reynolds has written about the rollercoaster ride she and her family endured over a period of just 18 months, as her younger brother Wayne became ill and eventually died of leukaemia and a fungal infection at the age of 17.
The Reynolds family are people of faith, supported by praying Christian friends and their school community but their journey through Wayne’s illness and death was not easy. If anything, it was made harder because as Christians they were dealing not just with the terminal illness of someone they loved, but also with their very relationship with God. Why was Wayne struck down? Why did God not heal him despite the prayers of so many faithful people? What had they done wrong? Was God playing games?
Throughout the book are entries from Hayley’s journal and it is in these that we read of her struggles with God, her anger and self-doubting. One of the most poignant entries is in the chapter, The Final Days where she writes:
Of course cancer isn’t too hard for God – my question is whether God will choose to heal Wayne? I have no idea … It is so damn hard to know what to think … The crucial issue for me in this entire thing is – will God remain faithful to what we believed he promised us at the beginning of Wayne’s diagnosis? The rational conclusion to that is of course he will remain faithful, for God cannot be anything but. Even when we humans are unfaithful to God, he cannot be unfaithful, for that goes completely against his character. In which case, have we misheard or misunderstood God? This leads to the question, how can we ever know for sure we have heard God correctly? (Page 116)
Perhaps it is not surprising, but among the least helpful people the family encountered was a famous ‘healing pastor’ who prayed for healing and assured them that God had given him two words regarding Wayne: complete remission. On the basis of this statement Wayne refused some treatment, thinking that God would be offended by his lack of faith. Hayley demands to know why God keeps giving them false hope.
This book is gritty, raw and honest. Hayley knows God’s love but she questions and doubts and wrestles with Him over his apparent failure to heal her brother. She gets angry and at times tries to ignore God but without success.
If you are looking for a comforting read, with positive thoughts and gentle platitudes – ‘You must have faith. We will pray for you. Be positive.’ – avoid this one. It offers no slick solutions, no warm fuzzy thoughts, just honest questions. And it points us to the greatest hope of all.
This book’s real.
Lead Pastor, City on a Hill, Melbourne
My Brother’s Shadows is an honest and thought-provoking exploration into the bond of kinship, the betrayal of death and the beauty of God. Through this personal account of human tragedy and spirit-filled triumph, Hayley reaches the heart, challenges the mind and gives voice to the full orchestra of human emotion. This is a book you won’t want to put down.
Clinical Team Leader, ONTrac at Peter Mac
Victorian Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Service
Adolescents and young adults are a unique group when it comes to a cancer diagnosis. As the sibling of a young cancer patient, Hayley provides an accurate and honest recount of her experience. She highlights so beautifully the challenges facing siblings on the journey and leaves the reader feeling in awe of her courage and faith. A ‘must read’ for all.
Revd David Dawes
Head, Pastoral Care Department, CPE Centre Director
Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre
I approached My Brother’s Shadows with trepidation for I did not want to be reminded that young vibrant people are struck down by cancer. I did not want to be confronted with the reality that cure is not for all despite their age. I did not want to hear again the anguish of a loving family who could not defeat death. I wanted a hero and found in Hayley’s diaries courage, fear, resolve, doubt, love. I encountered life lived raw and faith fully lived. My Brother’s Shadows is not for the Pollyannas; it is for the reader who is prepared to wrestle with God.
Head of Campus, Emmanuel College, Gold Coast
Hayley’s book, My Brother’s Shadows, speaks from the heart to the heart. She grants readers the privilege of an invitation into her thoughts and emotions as she relives a journey on a very personal, emotional and faith-testing roller coaster ride. Her absolute reliance on the love and support of Jesus, her personal Lord and Saviour, is evident. You will feel her pain and at times, I had to stop reading to process such contrasting moments of hope, encouragement, disappointment, tragedy and ultimate eternal victory. Hayley opens the door to the deeply personal sibling and parent-child relationships in her God-fearing family whose very fibre was repeatedly tested. My Brother’s Shadows is a testimony to the strength of character and depth of faith, defying his young age of seventeen, that Wayne displayed even at the toughest of times and whilst enduring endless pain.