Cancer is a Bitch: Or, I'd Rather Be Having a Midlife Crisis

Cancer is a Bitch: Or, I'd Rather Be Having a Midlife Crisis

by Gail Konop Baker

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An intimate, funny, brutally honest account of the author’s brush with breast cancer.See more details below


An intimate, funny, brutally honest account of the author’s brush with breast cancer.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Baker, a former columnist for the online magazine Literary Mama living in Madison, Wis., is busy on her novel-with a protagonist she happens to have diagnosed with breast cancer-when real life intervenes. Shocked by a diagnosis of breast cancer herself, the 45-year-old mother of three begins a yearlong struggle to combat and comprehend the turn her life has taken. Baker and her radiologist husband trek to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. Though her cancer has not metastasized and she's spared chemotherapy and radiation, Baker nevertheless faces the fear that the disease may return. As Baker grapples with the demands of motherhood and marriage, she also begins a relentless search to find the cause of her disease and head off its recurrence in the future-turning to organic foods, whipping up batches of organic face creams in her kitchen and avoiding electromagnetic fields. In this heartfelt memoir, Baker proves to be both humorous (she compares waiting for her follow-up mammogram results to a "call back" for an acting audition) and compassionate, as when a friend is diagnosed with colon cancer. (Oct.)

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Library Journal

Wannabe author Baker wrote a novel about a woman who develops breast cancer. Shortly thereafter, the 45-year-old Wisconsin wife and mother was diagnosed with DCIS and underwent a lumpectomy. Cutting, crafty, and clearly a woman on a mission, Baker takes us along as her life turns upside down in so many ways. No graphic treatment specifics here, but an honest (and very funny, for the most part) approach to breast cancer. For all patient health collections.

—Bette-Lee Fox
Kirkus Reviews
You-are-there account of the author's diagnosis, surgery and much more. After her annual mammogram, Baker's radiologist recommended a biopsy, which confirmed that she had intermediate-grade cancer. Readers will sympathize and share her pre-op fears and agonize with her during the wait for the post-op pathology phone call (taken by her husband, a radiologist). The news was good: Her cancer had been removed in situ, wasn't invasive and other suspicious sites tested negative. Regular follow-up and watchful waiting were necessary; she didn't require chemotherapy or radiation treatment, but Tamoxifen could lower her risk for recurrence by half. Baker opted for the drug (which has its own risks) and also went to the Mayo Clinic for further diagnosis and treatment. Most of the text, however, is devoted to the roots of her soul-searching, guilt-ridden persona. We learn that the Jewish author is a would-be novelist married to a Dartmouth-educated Protestant preppy, living comfortably in Madison, Wis., with two daughters and a son. We hear about her parents' divorce, her mother's breakdown, her brother's suicide, her hostile stepmother. Baker dwells on past loves and current sex, marital ups and downs, her girlfriends and any number of day-to-day glad or sad events, including others' cancer deaths. Some of this is funny, as when the author acknowledges her obsession with her breasts. But much of it is sad, particularly Baker's voicing of the classic self-blaming cancer questions: What did I do wrong? Why me? Readers will weary of her zealous conviction that cancer can be staved off by leading the perfect life: keeping up with yoga, praying, marathon running, going "green," eating organic-evenmaking one's own cosmetics. Her follow-up mammogram was negative, but that doesn't make this self-indulgent narrative particularly useful to those recently diagnosed with cancer seeking wisdom and guidance. More a let-it-all-hang-out gusher of prose than a cancer memoir.

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Product Details

Da Capo Press
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.00(d)

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