When Merrill Joan Gerber was diagnosed with breast cancer, she set out on a journey familiar to too many women. It began with denial that her precious breasts, those shining birthrights that appear in adolescence and promise beauty, sex and the love of men, could become the agents of terror and even death. What followed was a parade of doctors and their treatments, of surgery, the debilitating side effects of chemotherapy, and the dangerous but life-saving beams of radiation to her breast. She found new friends in her cancer support group but lost three to the disease. Merrill recorded intimate conversations with her husband and daughters, took photographs of her breast in various stages of treatment, and also of the machinery that dispensed the treatments. Merrill faced the complicated day-to-day topics--where do I get a wig, what can I eat, how will I sleep? She found a new appreciation for the blessings in her life, her beloved husband, their daughters, and their daughters' children. As she recalled her parents' illnesses, her childhood in Brooklyn, and her complicated relationship with her own breasts, she reflected on long-held notions of fear and death. Merrill Joan Gerber is the author of thirty books and many short stories. She is the winner of an O. Henry Prize and the Ribalow Award from Hadassah magazine. In Beauty and the Breast, she bares her soul and her breasts as she navigates the terrors of cancer and learns with courage and gratitude what it means to be a survivor. Many have reported on the cancer wars, but Merrill's memoir delivers a special contribution of humor, passion, candor, real-life photos, and a poetic gift to the reader.
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About the Author
MERRILL JOAN GERBER is a prize-winning novelist and short story writer who has published ten novels—among them King of The World, which won the Pushcart Press Editors’ Book Award for “an important and unusual book of literary distinction,” and The Kingdom of Brooklyn, winner of the Ribalow Award from Hadassah Magazine for “the best English-language book of fiction on a Jewish theme”—as well as seven volumes of short stories, nine young-adult novels, and three books of non-fiction. Her short fiction has appeared in the New Yorker, the Atlantic, Mademoiselle, Ladies’ Home Journal, and Good Housekeeping. Redbook magazine published forty-two of her stories, a record for any author. She has also published in literary journals such as the Sewanee Review, Prairie Schooner, Shenandoah, Salmagundi, the Chattahoochee Review and the Virginia Quarterly Review. Her story, “I Don’t Believe This,” won an O. Henry Prize. She has published essays in Commentary, the Sewanee Review, and the Writer. She earned her MA in English from Brandeis University and was awarded a Wallace Stegner Fiction Fellowship to Stanford University. She presently teaches fiction writing at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California. For my information, go to www.merrilljoangerber.com.