I can still walk two miles–that’s how I know I’m still living, not dying. Meanwhile, I’ve written a 61,000-word manuscript about my experience with terminal cancer. The manuscript is fully revised after review from a freelance editor and some volunteer readers. The 12 chapters are with the copy editor (April 27, 2019). I didn’t write the book hoping to make money. I’m not that delusional. I wrote it to help people understand.
The standard story about cancer goes like this: big scary diagnosis (the “C” word), horrible treatment, recovery, then the return to a normal happy life. I get hit with this narrative weekly: Are you still in treatment? You look like you’re doing much better now! But most cancer people I’ve gotten to know aren’t living this cancer-as-temporary-detour narrative. In fact, a third of people diagnosed with cancer die of it within five years. Many who live longer than five years face permanent damage to their body, mind, identity, relationships, career, and financial security.
- tells a different story of cancer, one that deserves equal footing with the happy ending story,
- engages readers in one person’s cancer and treatment story, and
- entertains the reader with the author’s sparkling wit and dark irony.
The book is my story, but it wraps in stories from others like me, especially those in my cancer support group. People who give their tumors names as if they were human, who dye their hair to support each other, who drive each other long distances for clinical trials, who have no one to talk to about their cancer besides others in the group. While this book isn’t primarily about them, it is for them, and for those who care about or for them, or who create and sustain the medicalized life we now lead.
Cheerful optimism eludes many of us, no matter what our prognosis. Dark irony settles in as part of our new normal, even for those with confident hopes of life beyond the bounds of this world. Not that we are grim. On the contrary, we laugh a lot, but people without cancer don’t laugh with us. This book aims to bridge that gap.
It is a fair tale, though it is sad, as are all the tales of Middle-Earth, and yet it may lift up your hearts
JRR Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
It hasn’t been easy to write a book while on four to five cancer treatments, none of which seems to be working right now. But I’ve plodded along, some days only writing two sentences. To my amazement, a book has emerged. Stay tuned–subscribe to this site–for publication news.