SECOND ACT: Life After Colostomy and Other Adventures by Barbara Barrie

SECOND ACT: Life After Colostomy and Other Adventures

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KIRKUS REVIEW

That even colostomies have their humorous aspect is demonstrated in this spirited account by a Tony- and Oscar-nominated actress with a remarkable zest for life. In April 1994, when Barrie was in her early 60s, she was diagnosed with colorectal cancer. Her story of what followed is not a simple one, for unfortunately all did not go well. Having been told that the surgery would leave her with an opening, or stoma, on her abdomen that would resemble a rosebud, she found to her horror and considerable pain that her bowel protruded some three inches and looked, in her words, exactly like ""a pink penis coming out of a donut."" Ten months after her first surgery at Columbia Presbyterian, another surgeon at New York Hospital performed a second, successful colostomy. During this period, in which Barrie also underwent chemotherapy and radiation, she rehearsed and appeared in a play and on several television shows (she's Brooke Shields's grandmother on Suddenly Susan), while continuing to entertain friends, attend the theater, play tennis, and spend weekends with her husband on Fire Island. Throughout, she insisted on her privacy, and few people in her business or personal life knew what she was going through. Then, a humiliating accident on a Manhattan bus inspired Barrie to go public with her story. She bares her soul and her body with considerable panache. Even the details of how to care for a colostomy and perform the necessary daily irrigation are told with frankness and good humor. Learning about colostomies from a woman who has clearly continued to live a full and active life should comfort those facing similar surgery. The broader lesson to be learned from Barrie's experience, however, is the danger of denial. For years she ignored her symptoms, when to have taken early action might well have made this a very different story. A gutsy woman's tale of survival.

Pub Date: Sept. 5th, 1997
Page count: 247pp
Publisher: Scribner