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The Sender: A Story About When Right Words Make All The Difference

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Sometimes the right words make all the difference

A few months ago he was a high school football coach. Now Charlie Cristo is a cancer patient, battling not only an aggressive disease but also years of bitterness and disappointment. Then anonymous letters start arriving from a source known only as The Sender. Lift your spirits. Work the process. Help one another. The short, wise counsel in the letters challenged Charlie Cristo to fight the disease ravaging his body and the anger threatening his soul. What will you do with The Sender's advice?

256 pages, Hardcover

Published May 3, 2016

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Kevin Elko

14 books5 followers

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5 stars
124 (54%)
4 stars
72 (31%)
3 stars
28 (12%)
2 stars
3 (1%)
1 star
2 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 37 reviews
Profile Image for Maddie Brumley .
17 reviews2 followers
March 1, 2020
Let me just say I LOVED this book. Vision > Circumstance. Very inspirational book and easy read.
Profile Image for Yana.
131 reviews11 followers
September 6, 2016
You can find a copy of this review at:

CANCER - it is never easy to talk about it, especially when you have been through it. My family has, and even though it has been 10 years since it was all over, and my Dad is all healthy and full of energy it just stigmatises you and changes you for life.

Every once in a while a pick up a book that deals with the matter, just to make sure I don't forget how precious life is and that there are still people in the world who go through the same struggles, but not all of them have the lucky outcome my family did.

If I have to compare The Sender to anything it will be P.S. I Love You meets The Fault in Our Stars... it is a very touching narrative that will restore your belief in humanity. It is inspired by the real-life story of Chuck Pagano’s fight against cancer. Although the story line is fiction, the letters are the ones that Pagano actually received from the mysterious persona, “The Sender,” and the life lessons contained therein are applicable to anyone, regardless of your particular struggle in life.

Throughout the story, there was a strong emphasis on choosing over feeling. This is usually not easy, regardless of your circumstances. And when it comes to circumstances, The Sender encourages the coach to “live in the vision” instead of living in his circumstances. Other lessons include choosing to be better instead of bitter, winning on three levels, fighting weary, and being where your feet are. My favourite lesson in the book, though, was the one about “fixin’ to”.

It is go-to book for when you need advice, consort or you have lost your hope. I definitely recommend it to every one, it is not just about people overcoming cancer, it is about living life and enjoying it. Exquisite read!
3,843 reviews107 followers
May 3, 2016
Worthy Publishing and NetGalley provided me with an electronic copy of The Sender, in exchange for an honest review.

Coach Charlie Cristo is a football coach, getting by day after day, until he is diagnosed with cancer. Charlie is at the darkest point in his life when a ray of hope appears. Through a series of anonymous letters, Charlie learns some important lessons about his life and reflects upon how he has acted in the past.

The Sender is a fictional book, but it includes the real notes that sports performance consultant Kevin Elko sent daily to Indianapolis Colts Coach Chuck Pagano when he was undergoing chemotherapy as a treatment for leukemia. The writing style is a bit choppy, but the book has a good message. Charlie's demeanor at the beginning of the book comes through loud and clear. I found myself rooting for Charlie, not only with the cancer treatments, but also with his attitude. There has been a lot said in articles about how attitude can affect your recovery from illness. Charlie's reflection on how he has acted in the past provides a powerful message which will resonate with some readers.
Profile Image for Susan.
2,666 reviews
April 26, 2016
This story is a combination of the real letters sent to former Indianapolis Colts coach Pagano while he fought cancer and a fictional story about a high school coach facing chemo. While it might be a tad religious for some readers, I think the inspirational message of how to be a positive support to those around you and how to accept the same from them is wonderfully presented and applicable regardless of your situation. The Sender was a refreshing story, not all rainbows and unicorns, but a quick read that felt honest and true. This book would be perfect for a church or community reading group or someone who wants to forget about nasty politics for a few hours.

A preview copy of this book was provided by NetGalley and Worthy Publishing in exchange for an objective review.
Profile Image for Charleen.
19 reviews3 followers
April 16, 2020
The Sender is food for the soul

I started reading this in a hard cover book and realized I wanted to highlight many areas, so switched to a Kindle book. The story pulled me immediately. My mother had breast cancer but did not have chemotherapy,so it was a learning situation. I can see why support is so important for many major illnesses, especially cancer. One needs a pep club who can encourage you during treatment.
The letters incorporated the book were sent by Kevin Elmo to a personal friend who had cancer. They are very insightful and I will go back and review them many times in my life.
Profile Image for Ian yarington.
416 reviews4 followers
November 15, 2020
Cancer sucks so hard. I've had two close cousins die from brain and colon cancer and I've seen first hand the despair and pensive thoughts that inevitably come to those that are suffering. It's horrible to watch but sprinkled within those feelings are the times they fight through it and don't let their spirits die. I'm a huge football fan and realizing this was based on the life of Chuck Pagano warmed my heart. I followed Chuck's situation intently and having that context made this book worth so much more to me but it was extremely heartwarming and heartfelt and would be a great read for anyone regardless of their knowledge of Chuck's journey.
Profile Image for Josh Merkel.
12 reviews
January 16, 2021
Phenomenal. Loved it. Finished in 4 days. Would recommend to anyone fingering for their health. Love the writing style. Inspiring in a way that makes you want to tell and write better stories that can be a blessing to others. Other messages include better not bitter...lessons get tested....hart and Vito story...right message right time....do it now and stop fixin to....fight weary....I’m strong if you’re strong. Are you strong?
Profile Image for Lovviner.
166 reviews5 followers
June 25, 2017
I truly loved this book. Although it was mainly written about about a man dealing with cancer, I think everyone could benefit from reading this book. It was such an uplifting positive book. It really makes you think and regroup. I feel like I will read this one again and again.
January 31, 2019
I heard the author of this book speak at a corporate event. The book consists of a compulation of motivational letters that a cancer patient received each day from the sender. While sad at times, great advise was always found in the letters.
February 6, 2019
Such an inspirational book. The true meaning of the right words at the right time. Positive thinking. Be where your feet are. God has a plan for me. Just a few of the lines that will be remembered
December 17, 2022
I enjoyed this book not my usual style but it was really good. The story, his diagnoses, the new friends he makes, his cancer treatment etc it did hit home and it was a book I could really relate to.
Profile Image for Sheryl Gent.
52 reviews1 follower
February 24, 2020
This is an interesting find. The storyline isn't new or fancy. But the golden nuggets of truth and life lessons are huge. This is a book I will reference often for those nuggets.
Profile Image for Colleen.
16 reviews
January 13, 2023
Very heartwarming and easy read. Lots of great life lessons to learn from it! I will definitely add it to my list of books to read again!
Profile Image for Kathy.
1,658 reviews20 followers
May 8, 2016
The Sender: A Story About When the Right Words Make All the Difference by Kevin Elko & Bill Beausay is a well-blended mixture of fiction and reality. It is a fictionalized account of a high school football coach who has been diagnosed with cancer and is undergoing treatment. Charlie was about at his lowest point before the diagnosis; career in a downward spiral, marriage at its end, non-existent relationships with his daughters, he is not a happy man. And then comes cancer! Anonymous letters sent to him daily through his three courses of his treatment change his perspective and his life. The letters included in the book are real letters written to Indianapolis Colts Coach Pagano by his friend and sports performance consultant Kevin Elko while Pagano was battling leukemia.

It is hard not to be moved and affected by this book. It is one which I highlighted continually, and a good one to share with others. The encouragement Elko gives to the coach and to so many others through the passing along of the letters, and this book, is amazing - what a way with words!! A good lesson in how adversity can be used for our growth and betterment, and that attitude and love make all the difference.

Very readable, and a book you'll want to keep, even if you lend it to everyone you know!

Many thanks to NetGalley and Worthy Publishing for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
February 9, 2017
The Sender is full Of very kind of depressing things but also very hopeful things. Most of the book has a setting at a hospital. Charley is the main character in this book and he is a high school football coach. This book will play with your emotions with all of the ups and down it has. There is also A little boy named Max and he is going through the same thing as the coach. In the this book they come together as unfortunate friends to try and get over this disease.
I loved this book. This book just made me feel like i was part of the story. It made me cry and laugh. At times it was a very hard book to read. But o really felt like the writer did and very good job on bring this horrible disease to life. And that it can happen to any age. I really enjoyed this book and I hope you do too!:)
Profile Image for Between The Pages (Gemma M) .
1,090 reviews23 followers
April 11, 2016
Sometimes the right words can make everything better. Charlie used to be the high school football coach, but now he is a cancer patient. Charlie starts receiving anonymous letters from a source known as the sender. These letters will lift your spirits! Now this is all I am going to describe of this story as I really do urge you to read it for yourself.

The Sender is a well written beautiful story for everyone to enjoy. Thanks to Netgalley I got the chance to read this one of a kind amazing story. I awarded this five stars as I really enjoyed it and found that the letters can help the reader personally too. It is an easy to read uplifting story which you will fall in love with (I know I did). However, as it focuses on cancer it may be an emotional read for some readers. I will remember this story for a long time as I have not read a book similar to this before, it also has short chapters too making it easy to devour. The Sender will be released on the third of May 2016 and I suggest you add it to your list. This is the perfect story for readers who enjoy contemporary and short stories (256 pages). Enjoy, I did!
Profile Image for Sunny (Kindles & Wine Book Blog).
507 reviews13 followers
December 27, 2017
The Sender has been the most impactful story I have read in a long time. I love various genres and while I wouldn’t typically pick a book like this, I found myself enjoying the audiobook so much that I purchased the hard cover for myself. I have loaned my book out and recommended purchase of this book to so many, I have lost count! Whether we are happy with our current circumstances or struggling with an issue, this book will speak to the reader. It sure spoke to me. I will reread this many times. I loved it so much!

If there was a way to give this book more than 5 stars I would.

Between the beautiful letters and the story that surrounds them, I fell in love with Charley Cristo and his anonymous letter sender. I loved the impact these special letters had on so many, including myself!

The audiobook was perfectly narrated and listening to this story won’t disappoint!

Note: I received a review copy of this title courtesy of the audiobook publisher, Tantor.
Profile Image for Karla Renee Goforth Abreu.
531 reviews8 followers
January 3, 2020
If you know someone struggling through a terrible crisis or health issue, and specifically cancer, this is the one book to give them. It will inspire and encourage and help them to hold on and fight so that God's purposes will be fulfilled. The letters are real, sent to a very ill person, but this story is fiction, though based on a true account. The prime character is a football coach and the book is filled with sports stories and so forth. Frankly, I am not interested in sports, for the most part. Nevertheless, the examples are fitting and for anyone who is into sports as a fan or player, the book would have more of an impact. Still, I was impressed and have already sent the book to a person struggling with cancer.
Profile Image for Kirk.
103 reviews3 followers
December 13, 2016
I should have finished this book in a day or two. It's an incredibly short read. It n a way, I did not want it to end. The lessons learned in this book are extremely valuable. The story is about a grumpy old football coach who gets cancer. While receiving chemo treatments he receives letters from the sender.

I think most of us are connected or know someone who has had cancer. For me, that was my mom, she beat cancer, kicked its ass. Cancer beat my wife's cousin - and my grandpa who was my best friend. But it had to come back to him twice to finally wear him out. I did shed tears on this book. So if you're connected to someone who has cancer be prepared. It's a fantastic quick read full of gems. Highly recommend this book.

Choose life.
2,802 reviews254 followers
August 24, 2019
I have mixed feelings about this book.

It had been recommended to me and I hadn't realized it was a fictional account of a real event. While I think the letters are encouraging, though very Christian as the book is essentially about devotions, it feels a bit out there and not sure I love the message that it sends.

It's a book that pulls on your heartstrings and is a bit emotional, but is also predictable.
Profile Image for Kerstin Daynes.
Author 1 book7 followers
June 21, 2016
I always love books that inspire and give perspective, especially in the face of adversity...this book was exactly that. I wish I could package up every phrase of wisdom that I read and keep it forever. This book made me pause and consider where strength and courage comes from, how we can offer so much to others in their depths of trial, and how we can find hope in the midst of struggle. Such an inspiration!
Profile Image for LeeAnn.
60 reviews4 followers
November 15, 2016
I was hesitant to start this book because I was worried it was going to be heavy Christian based. It is an inspirational Christian non fiction.. However, it was wonderful. It's definitely a book you want to pick up when you need to find your backbone. The only reason that I gave it 4⭐️ and not 5 was because I put it down for a moment because it was slowing down and it never seem to pick back up again
104 reviews4 followers
May 29, 2016
Stunning! Captivating! I loved this book. Won courtesy of goodreads.com giveaways.
7 reviews
August 9, 2016
Loved it! A must read.

Inspiring read. Real, honest and sound advice. It isn't always easy to stay in he fight, but when when choose to do so, it is worth it!
Displaying 1 - 30 of 37 reviews

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