To refer to the diary of a young woman – recently wed, carrying and nurturing her first born while undergoing chemotherapy – as raw seems like a cheap way out. Of course it is going to be raw: how could the emotional journey she has travelled not be? This book and her diary entries of the period during and after this harrowing journey, is simply, honest. Honest to herself, to her husband, to her daughter and to us.
This honesty is uniquely captured in her decision to not edit the entries. To leave them as they were written for us to better hear her. Some editorial work has gone into this book – for purposes of context or to capture the ‘history’ – but for the most part, the entries themselves are the book. Sue’s honesty is further revealed when she admits that the book was as much a part of her own healing process as it was of sharing with others diagnosed with cancer, and battling the disease, to embrace it as their own. It – the cancer – belongs to no one else. She encourages people to embrace their cancer as their own, and to embrace their process as their own, to be selfish (if you will) in how they get through it. It – the disease – while present in the lives of many, is of that one person who has it at that one time. What she, Sue, did is not what others might. Why should they. Sue’s cancer was hers, and her way of dealing with it, hers also. The tips she provides after taking us through the emotional, silent, journey of her diary are simply those: tips for ensuring whoever gets the diagnosis and is going through treatment remains the centre of the process, not the cancer.
To Sue’s honesty I raise a glass – as we did when we finished the Champagne Shimmy at her Nipple Party. To know more of that dear reader, I invite you to read some honesty about it being possible to have a cleavage with just one breast. A story which will take you from the brink of motherhood to the precipice of cancer – and beyond.”
Deborah Valentine, Executive Director, ACCESS, The Hague
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