A husband recounts his wife’s struggle with—and triumph over—cancer.
In 2003, while debut author Corner’s wife, Pam, was taking a walk with her future sister-in-law, she started to experience some discomfort in her chest and shortness of breath. She didn’t make much of it at first, but a trip to a doctor brought grim news: she had stage 4 non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Armed with a battery of test results, the author and his wife went in search of a suitable physician, but initially, everyone they consulted delivered a bleak prognosis, bereft of hope. Then they found Dr. Sucai Bi, who, after ordering a bone marrow extraction, came up with a plan: chemotherapy, radiation, and a stem-cell transplant. Both the author and his wife took a hands-on approach to the medical process and became impressively knowledgeable about the human body—something that was a source of both pain and wonderment to them. Predictably, the aggressive treatments had a withering effect on Pam’s body; she lost weight, her hair, and her natural vivaciousness. But she never surrendered her optimism and fought relentlessly toward an ultimate recovery. Nearly six months later, Pam finally received an infusion of stem cells—a day that she now considers a symbol of renewal and that she now speaks of as a second birthday. After completing her remaining treatments, she regained her former robustness, and, in 2005, she was able to finish the New York City Marathon. The author’s remembrance is inarguably an inspiring one—despite daunting odds, the couple remained remarkably sanguine about their prospects. Corner’s prose, however, can be overwritten and sentimental at times (“Our heroine successfully traverses the vastness of the unknown as she meets the challenge of a lifetime”), and his accounts of exchanges with his three young daughters are cloyingly sweet. Indeed, the book’s unremitting hopefulness is simultaneously a strength and a weakness. There also isn’t much reflection of a darker nature—the text only sparingly confronts the issue of Pam’s mortality, for example—and as a result, this brief recollection may not resonate strongly with many other cancer survivors.
An inspiring, if overly cheerful, memoir.