Garn Press Author Reading Series: Nancy Rankie Shelton, author of  5-13: A Memoir of Love, Loss and Survival

“I know it’s irrational, but I suppose that if we can keep breathing in rhythm like this long enough that when Jack dies I’ll always have his breath in me to sustain his presence in my life,” Nancy Rankie Shelton read at the Garn Press Strand Bookstore Readers Theater from 5-13: A Memoir Love, Loss and Survival.

In this single sentence Nancy imparts the essence of 5-13.

“This book is a perfect testimony of love and strength during the most unbearable and most difficult situations in life,” a reviewer writes on Amazon.

“5-13 is a book that should be part of every Medical School curriculum,” another reviewer writes. “It is so honest an account of how a cancer diagnosis changes lives. It is a beautifully written story of the impact of a cancer diagnosis on the family of the patient and how a loving family struggles through the diagnosis and progression of the disease. The author is unsparing in her account of the impacts of the disease and the loss of a beloved spouse, but offers hope in how one pushes through the loss to find meaning while never forgetting the impact of the loss.”

At Garn Press we are convinced that Nancy Rankie Shelton’s remarkable memoir will be a steadfast companion to many who are struggling with cancer and other life threatening illnesses, while providing an informal guide to self-healing for caregivers who find themselves struggling to survive after a the loss of a loved one.

Here’s Nancy Rankie Shelton:


5-13: A Memoir of Love, Loss and Survival

In 5-13: A Memoir of Love, Loss and Survival, the realities of sharing life and death exemplify what it means to live and to love and will resonate with readers.

It’s two days after Christmas and seven days after Jack’s 58th birthday. Jack and his wife, Nancy, are enjoying their morning in their second home in Gainesville, Florida, when out of the blue Jack has a seizure. That afternoon he’s diagnosed with stage four metastatic lung cancer. In the following weeks, the constant uncertainty and ever-changing diagnoses of his disease, his rapidly deteriorating health, and the stress and confusion of managing his treatment define their lives. After four emergency trips to the hospital that all result in lengthy stays, he fights back from everything, even partial paralysis, absolutely refusing to stay down.

By March, Jack is strong enough to return home to Maryland with Nancy, where he continues treatment while they try to pick up the pieces of their lives. He survives three more emergency admissions to the hospital, but the stays are much shorter and he experiences more outpatient than inpatient care. Though Jack is able to return to work, Nancy is not – she spends her time and energy supporting Jack’s efforts to heal and providing care and encouragement for him. Jack’s health continues to fail. On June 9th he dies.

Cancer is not the sum total of their lives or this memoir. Reflections of the 35 years they were together are woven throughout the narrative. Jack’s childhood, their first date, the birth of their only child, their relationships with others that shaped both their personalities are all part of their story.  Nancy’s identity as a wife, mother (and mother-in-law), sister, daughter and friend are all part of the experience.

In 5-13: A Memoir of Love, Loss and Survival Nancy Rankie Shelton encourages readers to overcome their fears of cancer, remain steadfast and loving, survive the death of a loved one, and continue living. 5-13 is a brave love story beautifully written.


513-memoir-of-love-loss-survival-nancy-shelton-garn-press5-13: A Memoir of Love, Loss and Survival

Paperback ISBN: 978-1-942146-35-3
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-942146-36-0
eBook ISBN: 978-1-942146-37-7
Hardcover & Paperback: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Waterstones
eBook: Amazon
Hardcover: $27.95
Paperback: $19.95
eBook: $9.99
Imprint: People & Society
Genre: Non-Fiction



Amazon Kindle Matchbook: Purchase the 5-13 print book and buy the Amazon Kindle ebook version for just $2.99. This $2.99 ebook deal also applies to customers who previously purchased the print book.

Great news for readers of Garn books – all of Garn’s Amazon Kindle eBooks are now available through Amazon’s “MatchBook” program! When you buy the print version – either paperback or hardcover – of any Garn book from, you can also get the Kindle version for just $2.99. That’s less than a third of the normal retail purchase price of $9.99! Equally good news is that if you have previously purchased any Garn print book from at any time in the past, you can also now buy the Kindle version for the same $2.99.


About Nancy Rankie Shelton

Nancy Rankie Shelton is a Professor of Education at UMBC in Baltimore, Maryland. She grew up in a remote area in New York State, the youngest of five children, and moved to Pass-A-Grille Beach, FL in 1976 after graduating from SUNY Albany with a BA in interdisciplinary social sciences at the age of 19. She married her husband, Jack, in 1978 and they lived in Gainesville, Florida until 2003, when Nancy earned her PhD from the University of Florida. In June 2012, Jack died of metastatic lung cancer. Nancy has one son, Conrad Shelton, who still resides in Gainesville.

Nancy has worked with children since she was young. She held many positions, from babysitter and playgroup organizer, to teacher, and finally professor of education. She has always advocated for the children most in need. In her work as an educator, Nancy has 23 publications that appear in premier academic journals or with leading publishing companies that specialize in literacy research and/or education policy.

Reading and writing have been essential activities throughout Nancy’s life. One summer, she and her sister Carol read every Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys mystery available in the Speculator, New York library. That summer, Nancy wrote her own mystery but she knew she could never publish it because she had stolen too many ideas from Franklin Dixon and she didn’t want to get caught. Now, more than forty years later, she finally has her own completely original story to share.


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