Like so many women diagnosed with breast cancer, Joyce Wadler, a former writer for People
magazine, had few known risk factors. She exercised. She had no family history of the disease. But when she was 44 years old, she had a malignant tumor "the size of a robin's egg" removed from her left breast. The eventual diagnosis was "ductal carcinoma with medullary features." Because of her early detection, aggressive treatment, and good prognosis, she called it "my maybe-not- the-best-but-still-pretty-terrific-whatever-the-hell-it-is cancer."
What gets Wadler through chemo and radiation--and later a fight against ovarian cancer--is her questioning nature, her pluck, and her occasionally mordant sense of humor: she describes such things as being "nuked" in radiation therapy and accidentally arriving at the morgue on her way through the winding hallways of New York's Roosevelt Hospital. She also quizzes her doctor about the "street value" of Ziphrain, the anti-nausea drug that also elicits a euphoric high. While her sometimes-boyfriend Nick is maddeningly insensitive to her needs, she's very much helped out in the humor department by her friend Herb, now a comedy writer. Wadler half- jokingly tells Herb that if they had children, she would raise them, and he responds with, "And I would lower them."
Wadler's book is worth reading not only for the many laughs, but also for the no-baloney attitude she takes with her doctors. She questioned her doctors' treatment decisions and diagnoses throughout her ordeal, and researched her options like an investigative reporter. Emulating Wadler's behavior and utilizing the resources she mentions could very well be lifesaving for women in the same situation.
From Publishers Weekly
This surprisingly upbeat, witty and informative account by former Washington Post New York bureau chief Walder is about her breast cancer: the excision of a cancerous breast tumor and nodes; radiation and chemotherapy--described through an objective journalist's research and with an acute eye for detail; and a candidly personal narrative of how the terrifying experience affected her emotionally and spiritually. Walder's story also includes rueful and funny tales of her post-cancer love life. As she reported in a shorter, April 1992 New York magazine version of the story, although the cancer has not recurred, the "dress rehearsal of her mortality" and the "battle scar over her heart" have heightened her appreciation of life. In an afterword, noted oncologist Susan M. Love, while endorsing preventive measures of detection, warns that in women over 50 mammography detects only 30% of tumors, with an even lower rate of detection in younger women.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.