Surviving Breast Cancer with Laughter, Vodka, Smoothies and an Attitude
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A successful businesswoman gives a warts-and-all account of her fight with cancer.

In 2008, Zaccone learned that a mass in her right breast was an invasive cancerous tumor. Armed with pink boxing gloves and the unwavering support of her husband, family and friends, she underwent chemotherapy and radiation–and the vomiting, hair and weight loss, bouts of constipation and nearly unendurable pain that accompanied the treatment. First she cried: "Not the crying, boo-hoo-hoo, snotty, messy, snorting kind of crying–but more like Niagara Falls; constant." During her "random interruption," Zaccone met and held her ground with several medical professionals. She worried about her looks, had her breasts blessed with holy water, hosted a head-shaving party, drank Grey Goose vodka, shopped for wigs to match her hair color, vowed to quit smoking and didn't, handled insurance claims for her damaged lake house and dreamed of writing a bestseller–all while resembling more and more, in her words, a sort of human Chia Pet. The story is emotionally honest and packed with personal details that few would disclose or openly discuss. It’s heartening to know there’s a husband–"an ass man"–who takes his wife's mastectomy in stride. Some chapters end with brief medical insights ("Dr. Song's Corner") courtesy of Dr. David H. Song of the University of Chicago Medical Center. The book also includes a glossary ("The Language of Breast Cancer") and lists of suggested questions to ask doctors. But despite being a tell-all account of surviving cancer and chemo–complete with facts, fun and photos–the book doesn't fully resonate. Zaccone seemingly has it all–looks, money, love, career and an impressive support system of family and friends–yet the narrative is fraught with seemingly excessive bouts of self-loathing. There's the occasional jarring juxtaposition of text: if it would ensure her soldier godson's safety, Zaccone says she would gladly double her chemotherapy time, but three paragraphs later, she questions her ability to handle three more rounds of a chemotherapy drug.

There's no doubt that Zaccone is sincere in her wish to alleviate suffering, and women with breast cancer, no matter their background, should find comfort and guidance here.

Pub Date: Nov. 2nd, 2009
ISBN: 978-1441580573
Program: Kirkus Indie
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by Rachelle Sparks