An astute and valuable resource for both cancer physicians and patients.


A couple share their up-close and personal story of trouncing cancer.

In this memoir, the Marshalls take readers to the front lines of their triumphant battle against a cancer that invaded not only the wife’s body, but also their 22-year marriage. Liza was 43 years old when she was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer, one of the most virulent and deadly forms of the disease. Ironically, her husband, John, was a world-renowned oncologist who had witnessed more than 1,700 of his 2,500 patients die. He voices strong opinions about the state of medical care in America in these pages. The book stands out among other first-person accounts about surviving cancer because of the authors’ striking frankness throughout the 340 pages. That’s not to say that the story is a downer. Although the account is flat-out honest and holds back nothing, the Marshalls inject lighter touches that balance the gravity of the situation. (“A brief history of my breasts. There were two of them.”) The couple’s emotional experiences at times diverge. A telling moment was their shopping trip to choose a wig for Liza. She and the couple’s children embraced the excursion as a fun family adventure. But John was roiling inside because the trip made Liza’s disease more real than he could handle. He notes that cancer is an entire family experience and that “whatever skeletons are hiding in the closet rattle louder.” A rare blowup happened when Liza wanted an expensive medication for her unrelenting nausea. John retorted: “Do you know how much that drug costs?” The Marshalls’ book is exceptional because it is multifaceted, deeply insightful, and brings readers right into the room. Liza delivers extensive details, including that her diagnosis came a few days before Thanksgiving at 2 p.m. Monday, Nov. 20, 2006. After months of agonizing tests, she opted for surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation and participated in a clinical trial, with John largely supporting her selections. He was against or had mixed feelings about other choices but stayed silent because he felt they should be her decisions. Ultimately, the treatments were successful and Liza remains cancer-free.

An astute and valuable resource for both cancer physicians and patients.

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64687-048-6

Page Count: 340

Publisher: Ideapress Publishing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2021

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Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...


A dense, absorbing investigation into the medical community's exploitation of a dying woman and her family's struggle to salvage truth and dignity decades later.

In a well-paced, vibrant narrative, Popular Science contributor and Culture Dish blogger Skloot (Creative Writing/Univ. of Memphis) demonstrates that for every human cell put under a microscope, a complex life story is inexorably attached, to which doctors, researchers and laboratories have often been woefully insensitive and unaccountable. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal form of cervical cancer. At Johns Hopkins, the doctors harvested cells from her cervix without her permission and distributed them to labs around the globe, where they were multiplied and used for a diverse array of treatments. Known as HeLa cells, they became one of the world's most ubiquitous sources for medical research of everything from hormones, steroids and vitamins to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, even the polio vaccine—all without the knowledge, must less consent, of the Lacks family. Skloot spent a decade interviewing every relative of Lacks she could find, excavating difficult memories and long-simmering outrage that had lay dormant since their loved one's sorrowful demise. Equal parts intimate biography and brutal clinical reportage, Skloot's graceful narrative adeptly navigates the wrenching Lack family recollections and the sobering, overarching realities of poverty and pre–civil-rights racism. The author's style is matched by a methodical scientific rigor and manifest expertise in the field.

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and Petri dish politics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5217-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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The lessons to draw are obvious: Smoke more dope, eat less meat. Like-minded readers will dig it.


The chef, rapper, and TV host serves up a blustery memoir with lashings of self-help.

“I’ve always had a sick confidence,” writes Bronson, ne Ariyan Arslani. The confidence, he adds, comes from numerous sources: being a New Yorker, and more specifically a New Yorker from Queens; being “short and fucking husky” and still game for a standoff on the basketball court; having strength, stamina, and seemingly no fear. All these things serve him well in the rough-and-tumble youth he describes, all stickball and steroids. Yet another confidence-builder: In the big city, you’ve got to sink or swim. “No one is just accepted—you have to fucking show that you’re able to roll,” he writes. In a narrative steeped in language that would make Lenny Bruce blush, Bronson recounts his sentimental education, schooled by immigrant Italian and Albanian family members and the mean streets, building habits good and bad. The virtue of those habits will depend on your take on modern mores. Bronson writes, for example, of “getting my dick pierced” down in the West Village, then grabbing a pizza and smoking weed. “I always smoke weed freely, always have and always will,” he writes. “I’ll just light a blunt anywhere.” Though he’s gone through the classic experiences of the latter-day stoner, flunking out and getting arrested numerous times, Bronson is a hard charger who’s not afraid to face nearly any challenge—especially, given his physique and genes, the necessity of losing weight: “If you’re husky, you’re always dieting in your mind,” he writes. Though vulgar and boastful, Bronson serves up a model that has plenty of good points, including his growing interest in nature, creativity, and the desire to “leave a legacy for everybody.”

The lessons to draw are obvious: Smoke more dope, eat less meat. Like-minded readers will dig it.

Pub Date: April 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4478-5

Page Count: 184

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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