A 2012 New York Times Book Review Notable Book "Staggering, searing…Ms. Gubar deserves the highest admiration for her bravery and honesty." New York Times Diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2008, Susan Gubar underwent radical debulking surgery, an attempt to excise the cancer by removing part or all of many organs in the lower abdomen. Her memoir mines the deepest levels of anguish and devotion as she struggles to come to terms with her body’s betrayal and the frightful protocols of contemporary medicine. She finds solace in the abiding love of her husband, children, and friends while she searches for understanding in works of literature, visual art, and the testimonies of others who suffer with various forms of cancer. Ovarian cancer remains an incurable disease for most of those diagnosed, even those lucky enough to find caring and skilled physicians. Memoir of a Debulked Woman is both a polemic against the ineffectual and injurious medical responses to which thousands of women are subjected and a meditation on the gifts of companionship, art, and literature that sustain people in need.
Susan Gubar was awarded, with Sandra M. Gilbert, the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award by the National Book Critics Circle. She is the author of Memoir of a Debulked Woman and has authored and edited numerous works of criticism. She writes the monthly online New York Times column "Living with Cancer" and lives in Bloomington, Indiana.
Table of Contents
1 Diagnosis 1
2 Ovariana 35
3 The Mother of All Surgeries 58
4 Starting "Infusion" 92
5 Drained and Bagged 128
6 A Posthumous Existence 165
7 Remission 200
8 Loconocology 235
Source Notes 265
Worlds Cited 283
What People are Saying About This
Joyce Carol Oates
An extraordinary testament to the human spirit—at least, to Susan Gubar’s indomitable spirit—a rare mixture of honesty, eloquence, humor, and passionate curiosity about the truth.... The ‘voice’ is so utterly intimate, the reader will find herself, or himself, drawn into sharing the author’s deepest thoughts, fears, and wishes. The memoir is a treasure-chest of wonderful, uncommon cultural allusions and lines of poetry; the reader feels honored to be in the presence of a first-rate, restless mind, being taken to a place of devastating clarity. There is pathos here, but not self-pity; amid the tragic and sorrowful, sudden flashes of wit.
Memoir of a Debulked Woman: Enduring Ovarian Cancer 2.8 out of 5based on
bobbieharv on LibraryThing
8 months ago
It felt like two different books, I suspect because she wrote it while she was going through the horrible "treatments" for her ovarian cancer. The first part was academic, detached, and as a result a bit frustrating in a memoir. She captures the difficulty herself on page 123: "But why am I resorting to academic quoting of academic quoting here? This long-winded digression is, after all, easier to sustain than a description of my fretful, then fraught quandary inside Kroger's."And then, just four pages later, the whole tone changed; I felt remorse for my carping. What she went through; how she was able to write about it so graphically, searingly, honestly - the rest of the book was extraordinary. Perhaps the distance she achieved in the first 125 pages enabled the beauty, the horror, of the rest of the book. All in all, for many reasons, a difficult but amazing book.
The range of this new collection is exciting. Gilbert travels along the shifting boundaries of
past and present with wonderful deftness, making Jackson Heights into a magic kingdom. I love this rich ethnic mix.Maxine Kumin
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This classic work by a physician survivor has helped thousands of cancer patients and their
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Ms. Gilbert's wit, energy and intelligence are formidable. She is well on her way to
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