It's an ugly word, and an even uglier reality.
Nobody likes to think about it, but for some people, like Amy Boesky, it is never far from their thoughts. Amy, her two sisters, her mother, her aunt, her grandmother--all of the female members of her family lived in fear of cancer, and with good reason. Most of them lost their battles with ovarian cancer in their early 40's. They always knew it was just a matter of time before another one of them would be diagnosed with it, too.
What We Have is an inspiring memoir about Amy's family and her personal experience as a previvor of cancer. Long before the BRCA1 gene was ever discovered, Amy's family knew that they were genetically predisposed to ovarian cancer. They all took care to have their children before the age of 35 so that they could have their ovaries removed before the cancer inevitably hit. Amy had just had her first child when her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, despite having had her ovaries removed years earlier. Soon enough, they learned that the two cancers were linked and Amy and her sisters had yet another type of cancer to worry about.
Amy is a professor of English at Boston College, and one of her specialties is timepieces from the 17th century. I absolutely loved how she incorporated her vast knowledge of the subject into the book, and juxtaposed it against the literal race against time that she and her family had run for as long as she could remember.
Then, of course, there is the time they actually had. That's what makes this book so wonderful. The way Amy realizes what time she does have, and the way she uses that time to live life to its fullest is truly inspiring.
I loved this book. Memoirs aren't usually my favorite, but this story was truly engaging and I honestly couldn't put it down. When I did put it down, I was crying (a lot), and I definitely had much to think about. We really never know when we'll leave this life, or when our loved ones will leave this life, and Amy's unique experience of actually having an inkling about how things might end up was thought-provoking and even reassuring.
Want to read it? The publisher is offering a copy to one of my readers (US/Canada only; no PO boxes). Leave a comment on this post (normally I like to have a discussion in the comment box that is apropos to the book, but I can't think of anything this time)(because "tell me how much you hate cancer" or "what would you do if you only had a year to live?" just don't seem like uplifting discussion topics)(so any comment will suffice)(that is, if you want to win this book). I will announce the winner on Wednesday, September 1.
Thank you to TLC book tours for the opportunity to review this book.
And speaking of good books, and book giveaways, and people named Amy...Amy of Involuntary Smiles won the book Write the Right Words! Congratulations, Amy! Send me your contact info and we'll get it to you ASAP so you can get to writing some wonderful cards. :)