Sunday, February 21, 2010

Between Me and the River (memoir)

Between Me and the River: Living Beyond Cancer, a memoir by Carrie Host

At the age of 40, when her youngest child was only ten months old, Carrie Host was diagnosed with carcinoid tumor, a rare and incurable form of cancer - one that responds to neither chemo nor radiation. Surgery is the only available treatment, but the tumors always comes back, it's the nature of this form of cancer. In a split second, her life is shattered, and the lives of her family and loved ones are thrown into despair and upheaval. After surviving a horrific surgery to remove "98 to 99 percent" of the tumors that filled her abdominal cavity and covered most of her major organs, she then almost dies from a resulting staph infection. Ms. Host tells the first part of her story in slow, agonizing detail; the second half of the book moves along in time at a much quicker pace. She describes not only the physical horrors of her disease and the surgeries she must undergo, but the terrible emotional toll it takes on her and her family.

I was drawn to this book for obvious reasons, having only recently traveled down a similar path with my husband (although his cancer was of a different variety). Although I wasn't the one who had the cancer, I can say that when someone has cancer, it's like the entire nuclear family has cancer. I identified with a lot of what the author wrote about in her book - the fear and uncertainty, feeling a separation from the people around you when you go through something like this, and the feeling of "What now?" when you realize that there is still the rest of your life to be lived, regardless of how long or short that might be.

She ends many of her chapters with little nuggets of wisdom, which, truthfully, irritated me after a while. Also, her reference to "angels" and her constant comparison of her diagnosis of cancer to a river or other raging body of water became tiring. However, I generally liked it and would recommend it to anyone who has been touched by cancer.

Mine's up for grabs; let me know if you want it.

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