Everything was going swimmingly in the life of actress Barbara Barrie: a wonderful career that had carried her around the world, a talented husband, and two interesting, devoted children. Even better, the month of April 1994 found her in Charleston, South Carolina, filming Scarlett and enjoying the ambiance of that historic city. So why was this woman who could play three sets of doubles suddenly falling down in her hotel room? And whose pasty face was that, peering at her from the dresser mirror? When the ...
Everything was going swimmingly in the life of actress Barbara Barrie: a wonderful career that had carried her around the world, a talented husband, and two interesting, devoted children. Even better, the month of April 1994 found her in Charleston, South Carolina, filming Scarlett and enjoying the ambiance of that historic city. So why was this woman who could play three sets of doubles suddenly falling down in her hotel room? And whose pasty face was that, peering at her from the dresser mirror? When the actress received the diagnosis of colorectal cancer, she knew that this was the greatest crisis she and her family would face. But it also - as we see in the pages of this candid memoir - becomes an adventure that, through courage and humor, brings new joys and a greater appreciation to her life.
Known these days as Brooke Shields's grandmother on TV's Suddenly Susan, actress Barrie "decided, in a flash, to write this book" after an embarrassing incident on a New York City bus. So few topics are taboo these days that Barrie's candid tale of colorectal cancer imparts the startling realization that there are still some corners of common human experience that are kept in the dark. Barrie was so reluctant to mention her physical symptoms, either to her doctors or family, that she suffered rectal bleeding and intestinal pain for years before finally ending up in an emergency room. She brings readers along on her subsequent journey through three operations, months of radiation treatments and chemotherapy, good and bad doctors, periods of recovery and horrific pain. The humiliation of examinations, leaking "pouches" (the cause of her embarrassing bus ride) and of learning to "irrigate" herself daily are also described in vivid detail. Not wanting to be seen as difficult, a "hypochondriac" or a "spoiled woman," Barrie kept much of her agony to herself. Only as friends and relatives gradually learned her secret did she discover her family's extensive history of colorectal cancer. Barrie writes that she likes to impart a "message-to-the-world" in her acting roles, and she imparts many hereabout ensuring early detection, getting second opinions and demanding good health care, accepting the love of family and friends, benefiting from the therapeutic value of work and, ultimately, enjoying a permanently changed but cancer-free life. (Sept.)
In this irreverently humorous book, ac-tress Barrie describes her 30-year experience first with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and later with carcinoma of the rectum. Despite significant symptoms, Barrie denied her illness for so long that she developed a large tumor, endured not one but three operations, had radiation and chemotherapy, and now lives with a colostomy bag. Her ability to describe this ordeal with warmth and humor will help those facing the same situation by demystifying the process. By using her visibility as the TV wife of Barney Miller, Barrie has opened the door on what for many is a taboo topic, making a true contribution to the literature. Those wishing more detailed information could consult The Colostomy Care Handbook, edited by Aaron Kwan and John Boey (State Mutual Book and Periodical Service, 1993), or Kay Marshall's The First Step Guidelines on Care & Recovery Following Colostomy Surgery (HERC Inc., 1990). Highly recommended for patient-education and consumer-health collections in all types of libraries.Janet M. Coggan, Univ. of Florida Lib, Gainesville.
That even colostomies have their humorous aspect is demonstrated in this spirited account by a Tony- and Oscar- nominated actress with a remarkable zest for life. In April 1994, when Barrie was in her early 60s, she was diagnosed with colorectal cancer. Her story of what followed is not a simple one, for unfortunately all did not go well. Having been told that the surgery would leave her with an opening, or stoma, on her abdomen that would resemble a rosebud, she found to her horror and considerable pain that her bowel protruded some three inches and looked, in her words, exactly like "a pink penis coming out of a donut." Ten months after her first surgery at Columbia Presbyterian, another surgeon at New York Hospital performed a second, successful colostomy. During this period, in which Barrie also underwent chemotherapy and radiation, she rehearsed and appeared in a play and on several television shows (she's Brooke Shields's grandmother on Suddenly Susan), while continuing to entertain friends, attend the theater, play tennis, and spend weekends with her husband on Fire Island. Throughout, she insisted on her privacy, and few people in her business or personal life knew what she was going through. Then, a humiliating accident on a Manhattan bus inspired Barrie to go public with her story. She bares her soul and her body with considerable panache. Even the details of how to care for a colostomy and perform the necessary daily irrigation are told with frankness and good humor. Learning about colostomies from a woman who has clearly continued to live a full and active life should comfort those facing similar surgery. The broader lesson to be learned from Barrie's experience, however, isthe danger of denial. For years she ignored her symptoms, when to have taken early action might well have made this a very different story. A gutsy woman's tale of survival.