STILL A LOT OF LIVING: Coping with Cancer by Robert O. with Louise Beatty Beatty

STILL A LOT OF LIVING: Coping with Cancer

Email this review


When his incurable cancer was first diagnosed, Bob Beatty was 47, a driven overachiever in the middle of a two-year stint as HEW Assistant Secretary. He believes he faced the news head-on, and his version of his last five years attests to his courage and scientific detective work. But the value of this posthumous record lies not in his perceptions alone but in the complementary and in some ways contrasting reflections of his wife and three children. For more than three years, Beatty had little pain or disability, and he proceeded to enjoy an unusually active life. He explored both orthodox and unorthodox treatments (Laetrile, acupuncture), finally favoring an interdisciplinary team of doctors because their batting average was better. Beatty has outlined his experiences in some detail and never seems too troubled by any aspect of his case; his family sees it somewhat differently, and their sharper emotional comments are much needed for perspective. Beatty tells when pain made him turn to morphine and more surgery for relief; his wife tells of an additional and unattractive dependence on alcohol. Beatty sounds in control most of the time; his wife and son recall murmurs of suicide and periods of depression. Beatty divulged his condition to family and friends spottily; all agree that this haphazardness added to the burden, and the daughter who was told last (more than a year after the diagnosis) was understandably resentful. What matters here is the rounded picture of cancer as a family affair, of the emotional struggles of both patient and survivors. Overall it hasn't the tactical elegance of, say, Lerner's A Death of One's Own (p. 791) or the penetrating insights of Sontag's Illness As Metaphor (p. 482), but other patients and their families can certainly find meaning in its many points of view.

Pub Date: Jan. 23rd, 1978
Publisher: Macmillan