DYING AND LIVING: One Man's Life with Cancer by Kenneth A. Shapiro

DYING AND LIVING: One Man's Life with Cancer

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Shapiro was 35, a successful sales representative with a wife and infant son, when he was diagnosed as having a cancerous growth on his face. It was successfully removed and found to be a non-lethal basal cell carcinoma. But a second growth was found on Shapiro's neck when the first stitches were removed. It was a malignant melanoma: a form of cancer which is wildly unpredictable and generally fatal. Thus began a seven-year battle which Shapiro relates in detail: extensive initial surgery to remove the melanoma and much underlying tissue, followed by catastrophic experiences with chemotherapy and radiation. Shapiro eventually refused all further treatment with either drugs or radiation, because of an individual sensitivity causing side effects which seemed to him far worse than his disease. Shapiro's urgent message here is to let us know how he survived these years, which have included numerous recurrences of the disease throughout his body, and many trips from his Michigan home to a specialist medical center in Texas. He rightly credits himself, above all, for deciding to survive and doing it; but also acknowledges unusually strong support from his employers; most of his doctors are also pictured as quite special (strong words, though, against those who were insensitive, uncaring, or uninformed). What comes across is a feisty, occasionally difficult man who has written his own plan for survival in hopes that it will help others: ""The struggle against cancer is not an easy one and each person has to take control of his or her own situation and make some very difficult decisions. . .I don't know what it is I am going to do at this point but you can bet that whatever it is I will make the choice, and I will consider it very carefully."" An honest and moving account.

Pub Date: June 19th, 1985
Publisher: Univ. of Texas Press