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Beat Cancer! Buy the Garden Book

October 09, 2015

You want to beat cancer, right? Of course you do. We all do.

In an effort to help defeat this illness for good, Garden Mentors is joining our dear friend, accomplished author and cancer survivor Jenny Peterson in putting a beat-down on cancer through donations. During Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October 2015) Jenny will be donating 20% of all pre-sales of her forthcoming new book The Cancer Survivor’s Garden Companion to metastatic breast cancer research. (8/2019: this post has been edited for affiliate compliance requirements.)

(Qualifying purchases made through affiliate &/or sponsored links on this page and others on this site pay a small percentage to Garden Mentors.)


The book doesn’t come out until early January 2016, but you can place a pre-order today, and we’ll turn the earnings we make from your purchase through our store into a cancer defeating tool once the book ships. Plus, we’ll double the first $200 of donations your purchases create through our store!

“…don’t let your ‘new normal’ keep you from the garden!…sometimes your season in life — cancer treatment, for example — is your time to dig your roots in deeper. The flowers will come again later.” – Jenny Peterson

Jenny Peterson in Garden by Kylee Baumle

Cancer survivor & author Jenny Peterson in the garden. (Photo credit: Kylee Baumle)

Still not sold? Recently, I asked Jenny a few questions about why she wrote this book, some of the challenges she overcame (and continues to work on) as a gardener and cancer survivor, how this book will help new and veteran gardeners facing cancer-related challenges and more.  – Robin

“I really believe in the power of the garden, plants, and the act of gardening to be healing and balancing, so I hope I can get this book into the hands of as many people as possible who might benefit from it. Thank you for helping me do this!” – Jenny Peterson, author The Cancer Survivor’s Garden Companion

Robin: Many I’ve known who have been through cancer treatment have found that some body parts never quite get back to 100%. For instance, even some of the toughest chicks I know can no longer lift the way they used to, following surgeries. Does your book offer workaround solutions to those who aren’t necessarily new to gardening but need to learn new ways to work with their new physical limitations?

Jenny: YES! That was one of the first things I tackled. My own body, for example — I have nerve damage in my feet from chemotherapy, range of motion issues with my left arm from surgery, and lymphedema in the same arm (also from surgery). This means that I have trouble with balance, cannot lift heavy items (wheelbarrowing, hauling mulch bags or heavy plants), and should refrain from jarring motions (digging, hoeing, etc.). I talk about ways to modify your garden activities and your garden layout to make gardening easier, safer and more enjoyable.

Zinnia flowers in Sacramento

“The Flowers WILL come again later.” Jenny Peterson

And I always recommend talking to your doctor or rehab therapist to get the best advice on your particular situation, because everyone’s body is different. But here’s the deal: don’t let your “new normal” keep you from the garden! You might NEVER be able to do some things the way you used to, but that is life — learn a new way, and keep moving forward. The garden teaches us this lesson: Nature is always finding ways to stay in balance, and it adapts to new situations and circumstances. If water is scarce, the plant will put its energy into digging its roots deeper into the soil rather than in producing flowers. So, sometimes your season in life — cancer treatment, for example — is your time to dig your roots in deeper. The flowers will come again later.

Robin: You credit your garden with helping you overcome many of the challenges cancer threw your way. Did you have an “a-ha” moment that drew you back to the garden after your diagnosis or were you always still out there from day one?

Jenny: For a short time, I wasn’t out there at all because it was August in Texas. Then I realized I was feeling increasingly out of sorts. I knew I couldn’t do some of the bigger garden projects I’d planned to do before my diagnosis (rebuild the vegetable garden, for example), so I decided to focus on a couple of very simple things that were doable — my houseplants and my front porch garden. The front porch garden became the gathering place for family, friends and neighbors during my treatment and afterwards.

Robin: Did your hospital/chemo/radiation center have a healing garden? If so, how did it help you when you went in for treatment? If not, have you challenged them to add one?

Healing Garden Bon Secours

Healing garden at Bon Secours Memorial Regional Health Center
outside Richmond, VA – filled with flowers, food & wildlife.

Jenny: Mine did not. My particular treatment center is a tall office building surrounded by concrete, so there is literally no space for a garden of any kind. I have talked with my oncologist about adding interior plants, though — those known to purify the air (pothos, sansevieria, peace lily, Areca palm, etc.), and possibly some vertical wall displays for beauty. I’d love to see plants in the “infusion room” where you receive chemotherapy — signs of life are good when you’re fighting for your own life!

Robin: Did you find yourself wanting to add (&/or did you add) cancer-defeating plants like Taxus to your garden to honor the plants that have helped so many cancer patients? Do you discuss cancer management plants in your book?

Jenny: Yes and no. With regard to Taxus, much of my research told me that to be effective in cancer treatment, huge amounts of the actual plant bark would need to be ingested, which is probably not feasible, so I did not include that in my book. What I encourage people to do in their gardens — and what I have done in mine — is to grow the kinds of food that are known to be healthy — all the leafy greens, the berries, the herbs. There are a ton of ways to use them, too — cooked, in smoothies/green drinks/juices, in tinctures, as compresses, as aromatherapy or teas for cancer-related issues like stomach upset, anxiety/depression, insomnia, mouth irritation and hormonal issues.

(Qualifying purchases made through affiliate &/or sponsored links on this page and others on this site pay a small percentage to Garden Mentors.)
Robin: I know your pets and livestock are an important part of your happiness. Did you find caring for them in your garden burdensome, healing or even both during your cancer treatment?

Jenny: We got most of our urban farm animals just after I finished treatment, but for a little bit, I had to be very mindful of my weakened immune system, so I left the coop cleaning to Brett (my fiancé). While I was healing, I found the chickens to be so many things — a source of amusement, a fascinating new hobby (researching their care/diseases), and a thing to focus on so that I didn’t make breast cancer the center of my universe. When the baby goats were born, I felt exhilarated — there is something about seeing the cycle of life, and participating in it, that is very healing to me.


  1. Thank you, thank you, Robin! I love having a partner in crime — and in this case, a cancer beat-down! I look for every opportunity to help not only cancer survivors but people with stress, depression/anxiety or chronic illness see their gardens as a resource for healing — thank you so much for helping me do that. XO

  2. Jenny, thank you for turning your battle and experience into a story of hope and inspiration for others. If we never see another case of cancer, it’ll be too soon. Thanks from me (Robin) and everyone at Garden Mentors!

  3. […] colleague Robin Haglund of Garden Mentors will donate 100% of her Amazon affiliate proceeds if you use this link on her site to preorder the book. So if you were planning to order the book anyway, preorder it this month and make your $$ go for a […]

  4. Bren Haas says:

    This is a great interview and an awesome cause. I’ve met Jenny a few times at garden events and she is the real deal – I see her smile in the interview.


  5. Thanks for your support Bren! And, yes, Jenny is such a positive, smiling, shining force of love & survival & inspiration!

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(Qualifying purchases made through affiliate &/or sponsored links on this page and others on this site pay a small percentage to Garden Mentors.)