Avoidance, and A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

Posted by on Sunday, June 26th, 2011

I finally read this book. I bought it ages ago, when everyone bought it. I left it on the shelf, because it got too much hipster attention, but also because it’s about something very hard, and seemed to come too close to some painful situations in my own family, and sometimes it’s nice to avoid difficult things.

I finally read it in May. I liked a lot of things about it, and I was annoyed by a few aspects of the book. I avoided discussing all of that here because sometimes it’s hard for me to honestly critique books that skirt things I’ve intended to write about, like cancer and caretaking and the responsibilities kids are burdened with before they can handle them.

And then I started writing a review and stalled because I got word last week that there’s a good chance my Mom’s cancer has reared its ugly head again. There’s not an official diagnosis yet, but the mammogram was pretty telling. I have a tiny little hope that what looks like a tumor is really just scar tissue. Hope . . . hope hasn’t stood by me much over the years. You wouldn’t have guessed that, would you? I’m good at sunny and light, with a side of sarcasm.

I mentioned Mom’s cancer several times here, but I tended to focus on all of the good outcomes. I do that. I don’t want to burden you. I don’t want to make you uncomfortable. I do that here, and I do it even more in my day to day life. I carry things no one knows about, and I soothe and I smile and I convince everyone I can possibly convince that everything is ok, whether or not it is, and that I can carry everything I’m holding and most of what you’re holding too.

The book is hard to read.

Life can be hard to live.

My Mom probably has breast cancer again, so soon after finishing treatment. My Aunt’s cancer resurfaced as metastatic bone cancer this winter, and she’s being treated and will probably be fine, but it’s hard on her, and it’s all hard on all of us, and we’re all terrible about asking for help.

I will probably develop breast cancer, and there’s not much I can do to prevent that. I get screened, I’m trying to work on the only risk factor I have any control over–my own fitness. But I have little control over rogue cells, and I know it. My Aunt and Mom had no control over their biggest risk factor–their own parents’ smoking. I spent a lot of time in that same smoky house as a kid. It’s too late to change anything my grandparents did, and I’m so happy that my nieces and nephew grow up in smoke free homes. I am officially shrill and irrational about smoking. I don’t think I care anymore if that offends anyone. I’m sick of people I love hurting themselves and other with such idiotic behavior, addiction or no.

Filed in 12 books in 12 months,blather,Books | 8 responses so far

8 Responses to “Avoidance, and A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius”

  1. Taraon 29 Jun 2011 at 9:43 am 1

    Sigh. I’m sorry. Sending hugs and hope. Can I do anything?

  2. elleryon 29 Jun 2011 at 11:33 am 2

    I’ll keep hoping, too, that it is just scar tissue…..

  3. gayleon 30 Jun 2011 at 5:48 am 3

    I’ll be hoping too.

  4. flickaon 02 Jul 2011 at 12:03 pm 4

    I’m so sorry. You have written about your mom and from reading, I know her to be a wonderful woman.

  5. KnittingKittenson 03 Jul 2011 at 7:06 am 5

    I will keep your Mom and your Aunt in my prayers.

  6. Kendraon 07 Jul 2011 at 7:04 pm 6

    I am so sorry for the discouraging news. I do not think it is possible to be shrill or irrational about smoking, and, if it were possible, you would do it intelligently with the power of logic and information. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

  7. Elizabethon 07 Jul 2011 at 8:22 pm 7

    My grandmother and mother are both breast cancer survivors. None of us have been tested for the breast cancer gene, and none of us want to because we feel like it would be living with a death sentence. Instead, we’re now waiting for the end for my grandfather – 91 and just very very old. I’m sorry you have to bear this. I’ll hope for good news for you.

  8. braun's momon 21 Jul 2011 at 10:28 pm 8

    I like your attitude and your work. Look up graviola and what it is good for. It is a rain forest tree, kin to the paw paw tree. Then look up what organs need iodine the most (special kind). (We all know that the thyroid gland needs it the most, but the breasts need it next.) Now look up what selenium helps prevent and prevents the return of. Now breath, smile and love and do what you do best…..look for the bright side. It helps everyone.

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