A New York City–based film editor confronts a diagnosis of terminal cancer in this debut memoir.
In August 2017, Cramer was told that she had stage 4 ovarian cancer. During a routine medical appointment, a nurse practitioner examined a bump on the author’s pelvis and quickly handed her a slip to get an urgent CT scan, as though it were a baton in a “relay race.” She was later told that she had a “fourteen-centimeter tumor” and that she must undergo surgery to remove “the big mass…the uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, all of it,” and then receive chemotherapy. The memoir describes how Cramer, a New York film editor; her husband, Todd; and their young son, Noah, came to terms with the news. She describes all aspects of her treatment, from awaiting surgery to having a port inserted in her chest for infusions. She also poses penetrating questions—one chapter, for example, is titled “Should I Fight?”—and approaches the act of wig shopping with wickedly mordant wit: “I sit down in the wig barber’s chair looking like my two-year-old-self refusing to wear underwear because it is itchy.” The book goes on to explore how the author’s cancer diagnosis has changed her outlook on life, asking “will an illness as serious as this teach me that I no longer need to fix things, and can I finally release my grip and get on with living?” Cramer’s writing is characterized by an eagle-eyed search for positivity: “Fuck it. I want to live my life not spend time making legacy boxes of my unfinished one.” For the author, this statement is an act of personal catharsis, but her message has an inspirational universality. Some readers may flinch at her bluntness, but for most, her writing will offer revitalizing guidance: “I’m told death is close, it is imperative that I take initiative to go any direction away from stuck.” Overall, this keenly observed memoir delicately balances humor and heartache while signaling the importance of each passing moment.
A profoundly moving remembrance that’s alternately sad and uplifting.