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Memoir of a Debulked Woman: Enduring Ovarian Cancer Hardcover – April 30, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-0393073256 ISBN-10: 0393073254 Edition: 1st
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Editorial Reviews


“Staggering, searing… even the most skeptical and finicky reader—even the healthy reader, even the healthy male reader—will not put this book down… Ms. Gubar deserves the highest admiration for her bravery and honesty.” — Abigail Zuger (New York Times)

“Clear-eyed and exquisitely written.” — Cynthia Crossen (Wall Street Journal)

“Delivered in a voice that is intelligent, feminist and devastatingly honest… Unlike many accounts of life with cancer, it is neither relentlessly upbeat nor melodramatic. Instead, it is straightforward, realistic and incredibly brave.” — Elsa Dixler (New York Times Book Review)

“Starred review. True to her no-nonsense feminist roots, Gubar pulls no punches.... This raw narrative is as close to therapy and is written as close to the bone as one is likely to find among cancer memoirs. Even so, there is a certain beauty that only someone of Gubar’s prodigious abilities can impart to such a painful experience.” — Booklist

“In this brave, honest book, Gubar grapples with the reality and symbolism of cancer. …[H]er tone is intimate, unsentimental, and darkly funny.” — Boston Globe

“Not just a grueling memoir of facing a deadly disease but a powerful exposé of the failure of medical science to find better ways to detect and treat it.” — Kirkus Reviews

“Gubar’s passionate and brave polemic is critical reading for anyone concerned with the state of women’s health care in America.” — Publishers Weekly

“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.” — Joyce Carol Oates

About the Author

Susan Gubar is the coauthor of The Madwoman in the Attic, a foundational work of feminist criticism, and the coeditor of The Norton Anthology of Literature by Women. She lives in Bloomington, Indiana.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (April 30, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393073254
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393073256
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #222,534 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is an astonishing memoir about a woman's "enduring" ovarian cancer. That is to say, not a "cure" or even assurance of survival, but author Susan Gubar agreed to undergo a radical, surgically difficult treatment for ovarian cancer, and she's also a fantastic writer. So not only does she share her experience, she is able to write poignantly and meaningfully about going through absolute hell to survive one of the more difficult types of cancer.

I personally was unfamiliar with "debulking"--having had studied some aspects of oncology as part of my graduate work in immunology years ago, I had become familiar with many of the new treatments (Whipple surgery for pancreatic cancer, seeding prostate cancers, lumpectomies, etc) but had NOT heard about this method of dealing with one of the worst of women's cancers. In general, only about 50 percent of ALL ovarian cancer patients are alive after five years (including early and late detection) as compared to breast cancer patients who have over all an almost 90 percent five year survival statistic. Part of the issue is that breast cancer has early detection methods (self-exam, mammography, ultrasound) and ovarian cancer is silent except for vague symptoms that mimic other things (bloating, pelvic pain, or--sometimes, nothing at all until it's into late stages.) And there are far more chemotherapeutic drugs for breast cancer than for ovarian at this point.

Debulking is the removal of affected organs, whatever can be spared, from the abdomen.
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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By DreamCutter on May 22, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Having a Mom who passed just before Mother's day this yearI can relate to what Ms. Gubar is sharing about the debulking procedures and its effects. My Mother had that endured similar peritoneal & metastatic ovarian cancer for 3 yrs. Debulking's horrific nature and the hollow it leaves behind in the corpse and spirit cannot be understated. However, please don not regret your decision, as your sacrifice is a gift to your family that they will treasure forever. The alternatives just are not there, I suppose. Whats worse is the adhesion's that form and inhibit what systems are left functional. I pains me to think another family must endure this. We must support more research for less invasive procedures to isolate tumors from the organs they bind to. Debulking with a knife is barbaric. It may be the best we have, but its NOT good enough.

Please share and support 'Memoir of a debulked Woman: Enduring Ovarian Cancer' by Susan Gubar via @amazonkindle Bless her, and her family.

REVISED EDIT: Regarding other review comments, it appears several readers fail to comprehend the pain that the author underwent as she penned this and that the writings are infused with a lifetimes worth of reflections, anecdotes and personal comment that are fluid and diverse. The Author is a professor, and hence the excessive references and due diligence. A debulked survivor may be heavily medicated to alleviate pain and anxiety. Its is important to realize that this is a memoir of the feelings and thoughts of a survivor. Its not a medical reference nor a inspirational book - it is a unique perspective of a person who has enormous strength to put her feelings in words under the most challenging circumstances. It is herculean accomplishment that someone in this condition actually authored a book.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Airmurph on May 22, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The experiences shared in this work are odd. This is because they are exposed in an unusually honest and true manner.

This memoir is a difficult read. The "pill" of knowledge contained here is not coated. This is an uncomfortable book to digest. No question about it if you are "familiar" with cancer. The author's candor provides gems of truth and knowledge that a similar study wrapped in colorful ACS or institutional bows can never accomplish.

As Styron did for depression, Susan Gubar has accomplished, with honesty, for cancer and the "treatments" thereof.

Difficult to call this book wonderful...but that it truly is. Honesty can do dat to and for us all.

Thank you Susan Gubar

PS 3.4.13: The light of my life, my bride Cindi, passed away 3.7.07 six years following a diagnosis of transitional cell carcinoma unknown primary site (rectum). The wisdom of Susan Gubars book would have been highly beneficial to us during the journey. In ways Ms. Gubars humanizing considerations have been very helpful to me in the years since Cindis' death.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Andrea H on May 23, 2012
Format: Hardcover
As a 1 year late stage Ovarian Cancer survivor I understand where she is coming from. It's incredibly hard for us to see all the advances for other cancers and nothing for Ovarian cancers. It honestly feels like a bizzare high school clique that we can't get into. I'm left constantly dumbfounded as to why. Why is my cancer, the cancer that is so deadly, not discussed. There's no test, there's no public discussion about the symptoms, there's no good treatment, and on and on.

I, unlike the author, do have hope that I can beat this or that a treatment will be found in time for me. My differing view may be due to our age difference, I'm in my late 30's. Still, I would not recommend this book to a newly diagnosed women. You need to be very focused to deal with the surgery and chemo. This type of introspection should be saved for once your feeling back to "normal".

This book is excellently written and really has me thinking about the "silent" in the Silent Cancer reference. The silence is really in the fact that women are not screaming from the rooftops about this horrible cancer, it's symptoms, lack of test and depressing mortally rate. Please help us bring this cancer to into the public dialogue.
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