Anyone who had cancer, no matter how many years have passed, knows you are never “cured.” The best anyone can say is “so far, so good.” Cancer isn’t one disease nor is there a test to tell you whether or not your body is free of cancer cells.
As this life crisis was ongoing, I did a lot of reading. Most of the books were escapist and rather lackluster, but one is worth mentioning. It spoke to me. It is not a book about cancer. It’s fiction and more about getting through life crises and the strange ways we deal with them.
Life and Other Near-Death Experiences: A Novel by Camille Pagan grabbed me from the first page and kept me engaged to the end of the book. I wished it had gone on a little longer, to find out the end of the story — if there is an end.
This is surprising. I usually avoid books that remind me of difficult times I’ve been through. I gravitate towards books that take me to other worlds and other realities.
The book features a young woman who discovers — in one day — that she has a very rare, aggressive form of cancer and her husband is leaving her.
The author never takes the easy way out. There are no cheap or easy solutions. It confronts real-life decisions that people who experience major life crises are forced to make. It does so with humor, wit, and realism. It never gets grim and it also never gets silly. It manages to find that edge of reality that eludes so many books.
The main character of the story freaks out when her life falls apart. She can’t deal with any of it. No matter how urgent her situation is, she needs time plus substantial family support to face her new reality. It’s the most realistic story about dealing with cancer I’ve read and it wasn’t depressing. It reminded me how regular people react to appalling news. We all react even though exactly how is highly variable. Everyone is changed by facing death especially when you know there’s no guarantee you’ll beat the odds, no matter what you do.
Once you’ve had any medical crisis that will kill you if left untreated and might kill you anyway, even with treatment, you never look at life the same way. You don’t take life as a given. None of us should take life for granted, but most of us do until we come face to face with the dark angel and he’s got our number.
This is a good book. A surprisingly good book. I hope it will get some attention. It is lumped into the category of “humor” where it doesn’t exactly fit … but I’m not sure where it would fit. Maybe humor is as good as any other placement.
Regardless, any book that can make you laugh in the face of death is worth a read.