Between the Covers: Stories from My Bookcase

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Cancer is a Bitch by Gail Konop Baker

Cancer is such a bitch isn't it? This novel by Gail Konop Baker says just that. It shows us what goes on in a mother's mind as she struggles through the discovery of lumps in her breasts, a diagnosis, and the subsequent recovery. 

It isn't always easy - what do you say in front of a person with cancer? What do you say to her family? It doesn't matter what we say - unless it's about a cure. So I guess we shouldn't worry and just be there for them. 

In one of the chapters, the couple goes to a dinner party and she notices how different some people treat her now - after the diagnosis. And it can get overwhelming. She welcomed this one person who didn't know yet because he treated her exactly like he used to. And I guess that is important too. Although we make them feel special, or let them know that we care about them - it's also important that they feel normal. Some kind of normal. 

I have mixed feelings about this book. I tend to agree to other reviews that say it is more about the woman's midlife crisis, more than it was about the cancer. While I was reading, I kept thinking about the 5 year old girl from the book Notes Left Behind, another family's journey with childhood cancer. No two stories are alike, of course, and one's experience isn't more valid than another's. So it's not that I want to compare the two stories - but I can't help but recall Notes Left Behind because it so touched my heart. 

I really don't think there is any family out there that is completely untouched by Cancer. Somehow, each one of us is related to or knows someone who has been affected by any of its form. What else is similar among these experiences? That feeling that life is suspended - until recovery, or death. But that shouldn't be the case, no? No one means for it to be that way, it just happens. 

I guess when you set out to read a book that deals with a life-threatening illness, you expect to come out learning a lesson or two. About how we should live the life we are meant to live now, instead of waiting. And how our choices determine our future, but that ultimately, we aren't in control of everything. In it's own way, this book tells you that, and a bit more.