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What About the Hair Down There?: Chemo Chuckles and Treatment Tears: One Woman's Story of Family, Friends, Love & Sex After Being Diagnosed with Breast Cancer [Kindle Edition]

Abby Brown
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $17.95
Kindle Price: $5.49
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  • Length: 200 pages
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Book Description

What if Lake Wobegon’s favorite teacher were diagnosed with cancer?

What About the Hair Down There? Chemo Chuckles and Treatment Tears: One Woman’s Story of Family, Friends, Love & Sex After Being Diagnosed with Breast Cancer is the autobiographical story of Abby Brown, a 25-year veteran educator in the little elementary school on a hill perched above the St. Croix River in Minnesota — a teacher who has been beloved by two generations of school children in the small town upon which Garrison Keillor largely based his fictional Lake Wobegon. When she was diagnosed with breast cancer, the entire town took to the Caring Bridge website to support every step of her discovery and recovery.

Both witty and wistful, terrifying and beautiful, this is not just a cancer journal. It’s a secret guide both to the horrors of cancer treatment, and to the incredible power and stability of true love — both familial and romantic. Although this doesn’t read like a romance novel, Abby’s at-times gritty, at times steamy, love for her husband knows no bounds, and his support and love for her is the red thread that holds the book’s chronological narrative together. Her two boys and their wide-eyed innocence and fear are incredibly poignant, and the author doesn’t hold back in describing the altogether too common, yet complex struggles of a family trying to cope with the fallout of a cancer diagnosis.

Abby writes in her Introduction about the loss of her hair (which the title of the book is based on): “In musing about possible titles for this book, I considered, What About the Hair Down There? At first, it seemed too bold for the front cover, but it was an honest question I had in my own mind as I started the “road trip” of my cancer treatment. Mine left, like all body hair, and returned with a new look – straight and dark, in contrast to the silver waves that grew back on top of my head. With enough length, some “curl” has returned. I’m not embarrassed to share this with others. It’s a fact. And this book isn’t ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’. It’s real life.”

This is a story not only of overcoming breast cancer, but of revisiting the value of family, love, vocation, and faith. Bring out the tissues — there are tears of sadness and joy in these pages.


Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Abby Brown is an educator of twenty-five years, the mother of two teenaged boys, and a breast cancer survivor. Her new book, 'What About the Hair Down There?' is an incredibly powerful journal of her experiences with cancer, and her writing is marked by its simplicity, honesty, humor, and pain. In the Introduction to the book, she writes, 'Writing became one of my solaces during the months of chemo and radiation for breast cancer. I shared thoughts honest and sincere regardless of their sensitive nature. And though I knew many people who had been diagnosed with this disease, I didn't know much about living through the experience of treatment. I'm a mother of two teenage boys, have a wonderful husband of 31 years, and I love my job as a teacher of 25 years at Marine Elementary School in Marine, Minnesota. Add to that mix the family and friends I love I decided to do what I could to stick around a while longer.' As a veteran elementary teacher, Abby Brown still spends her energy and days with fifth and sixth graders at her little grade school in Marine, Minnesota, a small town on the St. Croix River that most say is the place upon which Garrison Keillor based his fictional town of Lake Wobegon. Abby made national news in 2009 with her Stand Up for Learning initiative, and her small school made front page headlines in the New York Times for its use of the now-patented Alphabetter Student Desk an adjustable-height standing work station for students. 'From the hallway, Abby Brown's sixth-grade classroom in a little school here about an hour northeast of Minneapolis has the look of the usual one, with an American flag up front and children's colorful artwork decorating the walls. But inside, an experiment is going on that makes it among the more unorthodox public school classrooms in the country, and pupils are being studied as much as they are studying. Unlike children almost everywhere, those in Ms. Brown's class do not have to sit and be still. Quite the contrary, they may stand and fidget all class long if they want.' - From the NY Times article about Abby Brown and her classroom at Marine Elementary

Product Details

  • File Size: 10629 KB
  • Print Length: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Blooming Twig Books (March 25, 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00J93FK9A
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #314,373 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heart-warming and Frank March 26, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
Abby Brown takes the terrible process of undergoing cancer treatment, and transforms it into a story that is digestible, relatable, and altogether touching. She writes frankly about her experiences, with equal parts humor and truth. It's this truthfulness that really makes it a stand-out memoir: she doesn't try for sympathy, yet it's automatic; she portrays herself candidly, and through this, comes out a heroine. She details the daily complexities of life, and attempts to unravel them in the midst of her illness, which is both fascinating and heart-breaking. It's a wonderful piece, and an honest account of a process that is rarely dissected, usually glossed over as a detail. And because of that, it's a rarity and a must-read.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The truth hurts! March 26, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
Truth and consequences come out of this amazing story of Abby Brown's challenging year from diagnosis through recovery of the dreaded breast cancer diagnosis. Many of our friends have battled and held silent the deep truths of living day to day life with the process, but dear Abby allows you into the depths of family life, bodily changes, true love and the unexpected relationships that evolve as a result of her year long struggles. Faith and love from above and within ultimately guide her and the truth of it all hurts, heals and reveals. Read this and your gratitude for life, loved ones and others will jump start every day with a renewed smile.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Amazing Woman on an Amazing Journey March 27, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
Abby has taken a devastating diagnosis and turned it into an inspirational journey that brings both laughter and tears to the reader. She has written from her beautiful soul, both the good and not so good that came along her path to regaining her health. Abby was willing to share things that really matter, not only to cancer patients but to all of us. I have cried, and been uplifted by her honesty and genuine love for life.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wisdom to reflect on March 30, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
Perhaps because of the place I am in my own life, what struck me the most as I was reading this very authentic, very candid memoir was how we are often faced with situations over which we have little control, and further how when you think you have a handle on that situation, something even more difficult is thrown your way. My heart just throbbed as I would read about the continual challenges Brown faced, but there was such hope in how she decided to face these challenges. As I poured over her experiences, I continued to reflect on my own challenges, taking in how she adjusted her attitude in order to keep her perspective grounded. The book has a great deal of wisdom to offer about life, and about the realities of doing battle with cancer. As an avid reader, and one who is passionate about sharing good reads, I will definitely be passing this title along!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What about the Hair Down There? March 27, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
Abby has always been so full of life and energy. So it doesn't surprise me that she chose to share her experience of cancer with all of us. I had a very close friend going through the same cancer, at the same time as Abby. Because of Abby's openness about her journey, I knew exactly what my friend was going through. It's not easy for some to share their experience. Thank you Abby for your openness. You took us along with you so that we could laugh and cry with you. You were never afraid to "tell it like it is"...Your faith in God, your family and friends really brought your through it all. You are inspirational Abby!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Abby Brown, Writer Warrior April 3, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is an honest journal cathartic not just for the author but the reader. I hesitate calling a cancer warrior's story an easy read, but the truth is I did read this in two sessions because it is compelling and speaks both simply and eloquently to anyone facing a medical threat and the effect on marriage and families.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly Enjoyed This Book!! December 2, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Although I have never gone through cancer treatment, I decided to read this book because I knew Abby when she was a teenager, having worked with her mother. It was different for me to read a book actually knowing the characters in her story. I can at last somewhat understand some of what my own cousin has been going through for the past seven years in her cancer fight. It's refreshing to hear the truth about what really goes on "behind the scenes" of someone's treatment. Although anyone who hasn't experienced chemo treatment can never truly understand, I feel like I am a little closer to understanding than I was before I read the book. Abby did a wonderful job of putting her true feeling on paper -- I could even sense some of the teenage Abby that I knew so many years ago. I'm sure someone who has been through something similar will appreciate the humor, as well as the tears.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A lighthearted (as much as I can be) but frank discussion of the harrows of cancer treatment. She pulls no punches, minces no words, sugar coats nothing. The ups and downs of treatment, her mental and physical response, the effects on her family--it's all there. I've read a number of books by breast cancer survivors and this was the best. You feel like you're sitting down with a girlfriend at Starbucks, talking about her day to day experiences. Being a nurse, I can say that this was pretty accurate too on the medical front. While I can tell you the clinical side of cancer treatment, hearing the personal side was great. I recommend this book .
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read for all...
A very good read, gives a good understanding about all the ups and downs of the treatment process for cancer.
Published 13 days ago by Donnie Tate
5.0 out of 5 stars SHARE A TOUGH TIME
I loved this book. At first I thought it was more of a girl thing but it held my interest as a human interest story and the interaction with the authors family. Read more
Published 28 days ago by Gary L. Staton
5.0 out of 5 stars Realistic
This is the way that cancer really effects you and your family. I know from experience. Funny at times.... but very sad and painful too. Gives you hope!
Published 1 month ago by earlyriser
5.0 out of 5 stars cancer stinks!!!
I thought it was a very well written book. I just lost my sister to cancer this year. Everything she said was true. I am glad that she became a survivor. Read more
Published 1 month ago by mamaw4
5.0 out of 5 stars Heartwarming and candid!
A laugh out loud, cry out loud and shake your head read. A journey of breast cancer and how life still continues around you, the good as well as the bad. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Jan
5.0 out of 5 stars Gratitude for Sharing
I was so impressed by this woman and her sharing with us. I have a very special friend who has beat stage 4 lung cancer twice and also found a very strong desire to reach out to... Read more
Published 1 month ago by charlynn hammond
5.0 out of 5 stars INSPIRING
This is an amazing journey of her battle with cancer. everyone should read this story even if you do not have cancer!!!
Published 3 months ago by Lauren McDonald
3.0 out of 5 stars The book was easy to read and I found it humorous and true ...
The book is taken from blogs that the author wrote while traveling her journey through chemo and radiation treatments. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Amy Ziegler
5.0 out of 5 stars Honest and Inspiring
Abby did a great job of sharing her experience with honesty and humor. I was grateful for her insight into her thoughts and feelings as she traveled through diagnosis, treatment,... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Jami Stack
5.0 out of 5 stars One of those: "I can't put it down," books! Loved it
Since I have COPD, I deal with tests and meds and medical folks all the time, but nothing prepared me for Abby's experiences. And her telling of her story was Superb. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Sandy Spencer
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More About the Author

1. Where are you from, and how do you feel about the area?
I currently on 6.5 acres near Marine on St. Croix, MN. The Scandia/Marine area has been my 'home,' beginning with my employment as a teacher at Marine Elementary School, 26 years ago. It's an embracing area that hosts tourists in the summer and snuggles community members all year-round.

2. How did you get into writing?
I specifically remember the recognition of my writing ability by my 8th grade English teacher. I had written a free-verse poem that didn't flow in it's last sentence - he was complimentary and pointed out that this final line needed to be changed. I wish I could find it and fix it now...it could be 'published' as the piece that got me started. With my writing, I never thought of myself as anything out of the ordinary when I was young, though. I've had small nudges toward 'honing' my skills as an adult, but the 'audience' on Caring Bridge brought this gift to light in a new way.

3. What books have you written?
What About the Hair Down There? is my fist published book, though I have written for magazines and educational journals. When the 'Stand Up for Learning' initiative made the media, I had been writing grants to support the work of a standing option in the classroom and then was asked to contribute information and a history of it's upstart and progression.

4. Why do you think your books matter?
This book is about 'real-life.' It incorporates facts with feelings, opinions with reality. It's educational and entertaining, I've been told, and it matters to me that it impacts others in inspirational ways.

5. Where do you get your inspiration?
I live with, work with, and spend days with inspiration people. My family provides backbones of strength through their love and faith in the good of our world. My colleagues, students, and their families do the same. I feel I am in a special cocoon, surrounded by amazing individuals and powers above that make up our universe.

6. If you could spend your day with any person, alive or dead, who would it be and why?
I'd love to speak with Princess Diana about her short, influential life on earth, and the 'live and energetic' Ellen DeGeneres. I would thank her for making me laugh during my treatment and for the endless financial/emotional support she graciously gives to 'every-day' people.

7. What is your favorite character you have either written or read about and what did you like the most about them?
Katherine Tyler, (Kit) in Witch of Blackbird Pond is a young woman who learns to love people and a culture in colonial Massachusetts after an childhood in Barbados. She is challenged, yet remains strong in her convictions to do 'the right thing' during a time in history when law-abiding woman remained silent.

8. Does any of your writing contain something that is autobiographical?
Yep, it's a one-year autobiography in the life of Abby Marquart-Brown. :-)

9. What is your guiltiest pleasure?
Ice-cream with granola and a banana and time wasted pushing buttons on one-armed bandits

10. What is the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you?
In kindergarten, after a bathroom break, I had wet underwear. I can't recall the specifics on how it occurred, but we were having singing-time. While the teacher played the piano and our little voices sang out, I slowly moved myself along the cold tile floor, away from the group. Mrs. Sislo told me to move back, and lord knows it must have been a long afternoon worrying about the stink. Nobody knew then, but I felt embarrassed. I know you won't cast any judgement on me now, though!


11. If you could be married to any person, dead or alive, who would it be and what would you do for your honeymoon?
I am happily married, and we had a great honeymoon. The grins on the older ladies faces at the resort confirmed it as we ventured out of our cabin around noon. :-)

12. Why should anyone care about your work?
The job of an educator matters. Teaching in the United States does not hold the same stature as in other countries. It can be a frustration, but I know what I do with students is important and can impact their lives in positive ways. Good teachers care and do this work because of a strong conviction to make a difference.

13. Why should your life and thoughts have any relevance to anyone else's?
We are all ONE in the universe. It's my belief, and something I teach children when we talk about ancient cultures or watch CNN Student News about people in other parts of our world. It doesn't matter what language we speak or the culture that surrounds us, we all are spiritual, emotional, physical, social, and intellectual beings.

14. What is your favorite curse word? (Assuming this may be inappropriate, but just throwing it out there!)
I don't generally swear...I use crud, dang and gol' darn-it. But when I am really mad and want to make a point to my husband Tony about a difference in opinion/argument, I will say, "Eat shit." It's worse than "f#%k you" in my book. He hasn't heard it often in 30 years, though. :-)

15. Assuming Heaven exists, what would you like God to say to you when you get there?
"It's so good to see you, again! Can I have a hug?"

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