This no-nonsense debut memoir recalls Corrigan’s two-time battle with cancer and takes a pragmatic approach toward guiding other patients.
In 1981, at 14, Corrigan was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease. At 48, and now a wife and mother to three children, the author was told that the cancer had returned in the form of invasive ductal carcinoma in her right breast. In her memoir, Corrigan intertwines both of her survival stories, comparing 20th- and 21st-century treatments. The book describes in unflinching detail the realities of cancer treatment, such as the side effects of drugs associated with chemotherapy: “The bone pain was worse than the blistering rash I had on my hands, arms, and feet.” She recounts the periods approaching her mastectomy and following implant surgery. Corrigan also addresses how she handled post-cancer life, including coming to terms with her prosthetic breasts and with the psychological trauma of illness that persists in recovery. Corrigan’s approach is straightforward and forthright. About having a mastectomy, she writes: “I didn’t think too much about it. My boobs were trying to kill me, and they needed to go.” Despite this directness, her writing is never flippant. Corrigan carefully elucidates her emotions and shares her joys and insecurities. Following her breast reconstruction, she confides: “I felt more like a woman again and less like a doll. I was so thrilled, I posted, The girls are back in town! on my Facebook wall.” Corrigan’s writing is highly approachable, addressing a well-considered range of topics, from exercise to feelings of isolation. Again, Corrigan’s crisp frankness offers a valuable source of sensitive, nonmedical advice on subjects such as the importance of self-trust: “If something feels off, don’t stew on it or ignore it. Talk to your health care team.” Although this memoir may be of most benefit to those diagnosed with breast cancer, Corrigan’s candor and positive approach could well prove a guiding light for those facing any type of serious illness.
Candid, sagacious writing on illness and adaptation.