Saturday, August 16, 2008

Cancer Is A Bitch, Gail Konop Baker's Memoir

I read Gail Konop Baker's memoir Cancer Is A Bitch *Or I'd Rather Be Having a Mid-Life Crisis, twice. Before reading it, I wondered if I'd be able to relate-- I've never had cancer, I'm lucky and grateful for that. I also grew up in a neurosis-is-the-breakfast-of-champions environment, where the word cancer is whispered for fear that elevating the pitch would somehow invite the disease into our lives. Flowing along that superstition, I wondered if reading a book about cancer would beckon a social call. Would I be dialing-a-disease-for-delivery by reading this memoir? What would my grandparents think? Should I even tell my parents I was reading a shh-book?


And I wonder where my hypochondriac roots stem from?! Really? Really. OY.

The minute I started reading Cancer Is A Bitch, I could NOT put it down. Honestly, irreverently, hysterically and exquisitely, Gail hurled me into what she endured and continues to face as a cancer survivor. But, more than that- the frenetic chaos, endless questions, overwhelming fear and love, so much love for her family, her life and her relationship with herself, it was so poetically human, so perfectly written, how could I not relate? With every page I devoured, the more invested in Gail's life, in her family, her hopes, her dreams, her friends, her choices, her fears, her consequences, and her everything, I became. I felt so deeply connected to her. I fell in love with her, her bravery, the complexity of her mind, how fucking brutally-unrelentingly-honest she is and her humor.

Everyone will take something different from Cancer Is A Bitch, of course. What I took from it, why it had such a profound impact on me and why I had to read it twice was because (again, for me) it was about my relationship with myself and how sidelined and consumed by others that can become. How quickly I have, at times dismissed the importance of it or realized that it even was important.

Gail's book officially hits bookstores in October. You can pre-order Cancer Is A Bitch now. I beg you to do so. Any book that can make me laugh, cry, feel chaotic, angry and nauseous, all at the same time is a must read, period. I felt all of that and so much more. I am grateful to Gail for having the moxie to spin this yarn, it's beautiful. You will love each and every word. READ IT. READ IT. READ IT. Right now. Drag your ass to this link and pre-order it. Ga'head... I'm waiting.

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15 comments:

FranIAm said...

Holy crap Katie. Any book that makes you feel that way is likely to make me feel that way.

The word cancer was never uttered in our house when I was a kid. It was called, all John &Cindy McCain references aside, "the C word".

The very mention of it was to practically fling open the front door and to ask "mal-OYK" (aside from the constancy of my Jewish inspired Catholic life, we lived in a very Italian neighborhood and that means "mal occhia" or evil eye)to come in and eat with you. God forbid a hundred times!

So I get it.

When I was still in my twenties my friend D died of colon cancer and it was the first loss of a friend my age and has influenced my life profoundly.

This book sounds great,I was just over at the website and I must get a copy to read.

Thanks for this Kateleh- insight into you and a good book.

Jess Riley said...

Gail's brilliant, and I love this review! Clearly, you are brilliant, too.

I just discovered your blog via Gail, and I'm sad that I didn't know about you before. So yes, I'll be the stalker-type reading your archives.

Gail said...

Katie!! First of all thank you for your honest and amazingly insightful review of CIAB! You read the book the way (in my most idealized dreams) hoped people would read it. And I appreciate you putting right up front your fears of reading it because of the "C" word. In fact I was afraid to write for the same reasons. I also grew up in household like yours and my mother still likes to remind me that I'm the only one in the family who's ever had cancer. In writing the book I made a conscious decision to wear that label (even though I didn't want to... really) I guess in an effort to de-stigmatize it for other cancer survivors. I believe it is one of the last standing taboos. But, that said, the book, as you pointed out is really more about what it means to be a woman, how difficult our choices are and how cancer changed my life so dramatically and woke me up to NOW and taught me to live more fully and freely and openly. Thank you again, Katie!!! You are a beautiful and courageous and brilliant woman with a big heart and soul! ox, g

Katie Schwartz said...

Frannylish, I'm so sorry you lost your friend to cancer, so very, very, very sorry, my love.

Though I grew up in a world where cancer is hushed and I see you did, too (oy vey so sorry), it's been unhushed in my immediate family for a long time now. In fact, it's screamed. I think we're overcompensating. Better that than a shhh. News?!?!?!

Frannygirl, please read CIAB. I found it so very empowering. I needed the reminder, especially right now in this moment that I matter, that whatever health issues and external circumstances I can't control, they don't have to swallow me, not if I don't allow them to. I matter. I need to drag my ass from the trunk and into the driver's seat -- IT'S MY FUCKIN' LIFE, YO! It counts and so do I. You'll feel like SuperGirl after you read it :)

PS: Love the "John and Cindy McCain references aside" thing.

Katie Schwartz said...

Hi Jess Riley;

Thanks for stopping by. Ya such a doll. Gail is brilliant, inspiring, loving, nurturing and that broad has moxie for days. I adore her to bits. I am IN LOVE with her memoir!

See you in the blogosphere, bubbie. I'm clicking your name now to check out your bloggy.

Katie Schwartz said...

Shalom Gail;

I'm so happy you allowed me to read CIAB! I can't thank you enough, it was a gift.

You're right about cancer being so stigmatized. ENOUGH ALREADY with the stigmas, right?!?!? OY VEY. Women, especially have way too many stigmas we deal with.

I want all women to read your memoir to feel empowered and to jump into their lives head first. You remind us of that, Gail. You're brilliant, brave and beautiful. I admire the hell out of you.

xoxo
Katie-

Freida Bee said...

I will. I will. Everyone and his dog has had cancer in my family and I have almost the reverse fear, that my saying that (a partial truth) will create it.

Doreen Orion said...

We couldn't even say "diabetes" in my family. Hell, we weren't even supposed to know my mother had been a nightclub singer in her youth. I swear I grew up thinking all the secrecy around that meant she'd been a hooker.

Can't wait to read Gail's book.

Doreen Orion said...

We couldn't even say "diabetes" in my family. Hell, we weren't even supposed to know my mother had been a nightclub singer in her youth. I swear I grew up thinking all the secrecy around that meant she'd been a hooker.

Can't wait to read Gail's book.

Gail said...

wow!! All these amazing comments!! First of all thank you thank you thank you and please IF you read the book I honestly want to know what you think!!
A
lso, I would love to meet all of you and sign a copy of the book with a personal message to you. I will be in San Francisco September 30th and October 1st and NYC the following week... xo, g

KELSO'S NUTS said...

JG: I'm too much a neurotic Jewish hypochondriac to read this post, but I did award you the BOOT for being a KICK-ASS (tm) BLOGGER.

Spartacus gave me the award and has a better description of the rules than I could ever give.

Katie Schwartz said...

FreidaBee, I didn't know that. How do you deal with it? I hear where you're coming from.

Katie Schwartz said...

Seriously, Doreen?! That is hysterical and so much like my family.

You will love Gail's book.

Katie Schwartz said...

Gail is really approachable. You can dish with her about anything. I encourage everyone to contact her.

Gail said...

yes, please contact me. I LOVE to dish...

 

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