In 5-13: A Memoir of Love, Loss and Survival, the realities of sharing life and death exemplify what it means to live and to love and will resonate with readers.
It’s two days after Christmas and seven days after Jack’s 58th birthday. Jack and his wife, Nancy, are enjoying their morning in their second home in Gainesville, Florida, when out of the blue Jack has a seizure. That afternoon he’s diagnosed with stage four metastatic lung cancer. In the following weeks, the constant uncertainty and ever-changing diagnoses of his disease, his rapidly deteriorating health, and the stress and confusion of managing his treatment define their lives. After four emergency trips to the hospital that all result in lengthy stays, he fights back from everything, even partial paralysis, absolutely refusing to stay down.
By March, Jack is strong enough to return home to Maryland with Nancy, where he continues treatment while they try to pick up the pieces of their lives. He survives three more emergency admissions to the hospital, but the stays are much shorter and he experiences more outpatient than inpatient care. Though Jack is able to return to work, Nancy is not – she spends her time and energy supporting Jack’s efforts to heal and providing care and encouragement for him. Jack’s health continues to fail. On June 9th he dies.
Cancer is not the sum total of their lives or this memoir. Reflections of the 35 years they were together are woven throughout the narrative. Jack’s childhood, their first date, the birth of their only child, their relationships with others that shaped both their personalities are all part of their story. Nancy’s identity as a wife, mother (and mother-in-law), sister, daughter and friend are all part of the experience.
In 5-13: A Memoir of Love, Loss and Survival Nancy Rankie Shelton encourages readers to overcome their fears of cancer, remain steadfast and loving, survive the death of a loved one, and continue living. 5-13 is a brave love story beautifully written.