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Still with Me: A Daughter's Journey of Love and Loss Hardcover – April 8, 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
With an increasing number of terminally ill patients choosing to die at home, journalist Collier's account of taking care of her mother, suffering from stage four ovarian cancer, couldn't be more timely, even though the events took place a decade ago. An only child, Collier offers an unblinking account of how her life and that of her mother, Earline, became progressively more entwined from the moment of Earline's call ("The doctors here say they think I have some kind of cancer") until her death a year later. Collier depicts her mother's bravery, pinning on costume jewelry butterflies before each chemotherapy session to better visualize healing, and playing slots at Circus Circus in Las Vegas: "[Earline] looked as if she knew time couldn't run out on her." One of the book's strengths is Collier's willingness to recreate those difficult days honestly. She describes spanking her six-year-old daughter for running away (to the backyard) and how she rediscovered Barbie dolls, which she turned to for consolation. Collier is also forthright about her treatment of her stepfather, whom she bullied into burying her mother's ashes (something she herself couldn't face). Still, Collier's desire to help others in similar circumstances extends only to the psychological; there's little practical information on assisting someone living with cancer or dealing with the health-care system, and Collier's economic circumstances limit the reach of her story (many readers wouldn't have a spare bedroom for their mothers or the money to rent an apartment for their mothers to move nearby).
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Ten years after the death of her mother from ovarian cancer, Collier chronicles the one-year journey from her mother's diagnosis through treatment, hospice care, and death, and her own aftermath of depression. Collier eventually moved her mother to Lansing, Michigan, where she lived with her husband and two young children. Her mother, Earline Terry, shuttled between her own apartment and her husband, John, to her daughter's home, depending on the level of care she needed. Collier immersed herself in research, desperate to learn everything she could to help her mother, avoid arguments with a marginalized stepfather, maintain some semblance of family life, and promote more open discussion of cancer among African Americans. Her mother more often dodged the unpleasantness, adamantly keeping friends and family uninformed. A joyous trip to Las Vegas before Earline's health deteriorates eases the tension between mother and daughter as they slowly accept reality--Earline will not live long enough to participate in the clinical studies her daughter so desperately sought. A touching memoir of how a mother and daughter coped with terminal illness. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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I am one of those daughter's who has taken on the care of an elderly parent. My mother is still living and I have been her "assisted care" for several years. In the years since my mother suffered a debillitating stroke I have struggled with the varying feelings of helplessness, inadequacy, andger, resentment - all of those and more.
This book is a gift to all of the daughters, all of the caregivers. It gave me permission to cry, to let it all out.
Beyond a clearly superior ability to write - the author posesses an indefinable quality that allows her to dip into universal truths and make them personal and immediate. "Unflinching" as one review characterizes it, does not even come close.