A funny, honest memoir of breast cancer.
Chapman, a suburban mother of three, was 45 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007. She chronicled her treatment and recovery on a blog she shared with family and friends, which later served as the basis for this book. Short chapters lead the reader through her doctor’s appointments, quiet family moments, unexpected hospital stays and the emotional highs and lows of her battle with cancer. The author often refers to how her offbeat sense of humor helped her cope, and it comes through clearly in these pages. “I imagine what it must be like to be a mouse pad,” she muses during an ultrasound, after a routine mammogram turns into something more serious. She identifies her doctors, nurses, fellow patients and casual acquaintances by descriptive nicknames: Rock Star Surgeon and Dr. Point Guard, for example, lead most of her treatment, while Chapman’s feelings about Doctor Doofus and Crazy Wig Salesman are evident from their names alone. “Divine Secrets” and quick tips are tucked into the narrative via text boxes, and many chapters include a list of recommended websites and other resources. One of the memoir’s strengths is the author’s determination to confound readers’ expectations; sometimes, she embodies the book’s sorority-girl theme, coming off as bubbly and overly focused on her appearance, but at other times, she shows a more serious, introspective side. (This dichotomy is reflected in her choice of post-surgery reading material: a copy of the women’s magazine Redbook and a biography of Winston Churchill.) Some parts might have benefited from a stronger edit—in particular, readers may tire of her oft-repeated hope for a “free tummy tuck” as part of the breast reconstruction process—but overall, readers get a strong sense of how Chapman agonized over her treatment decisions and made the choices she felt were best.
An engaging story of one woman’s cancer fight.