Thursday, July 31, 2014

An impressive book introduction

Part of the book proposal I have been working on (sending it off tonight!!) involved doing a competitive analysis of other books in my genre. I spent a lot of time on the Amazon website, putting in many different kinds prompts into the search engine to find out what books are out there like mine. I didn't find one memoir that is structured like mine, or even has a before, during, and after illness chronicle. I spent many hours looking.

While searching, I came across many other interesting books. This one especially impressed me. It addresses in a very down-to-earth way the realities of day-to-day life with post-illness "fallout".

The book is called "The Cancer Survivor's companion", practical ways to cope with your feelings after cancer, by Dr. Frances Goodhart and Lucy Atkins. 

This analogy is in the beginning of the book.

(I easily substitute any traumatic illness episode for cancer, and it is nearly identical with many feelings I have experienced.) 

The storm of cancer
Before cancer, you’re sailing along in generally fair weather. You’re travelling in one direction. You have maps, navigation aids and provisions. You might even be part of a flotilla – you and some other boats, sailing in the same direction at the same speed. Life is fine, good even.
Then a massive storm hits – cancer.
Your boat is seriously damaged. Maybe parts of it are lost or broken. Your maps and provisions are swept overboard. In the eye of the storm, you lose all sense of direction. Your main terror is that the boat will sink.
Then your cancer care team appear. They are your lifeboat; your rescuers. They attach ropes, patch your boat up and keep it afloat; they come alongside you, and take control of the steering and direction. Slowly, they tow you back to port. Sometimes this journey towards the port is even stormier than the catastrophe itself. But you know you are not alone – you have the lifeboat staff, you make a good team.
As the lifeboat tows your boat back to port you see friends and family on the shore waving and cheering. They are so relieved to have you back.
But then your boat just stops.
You are not quite back in port. You can see the lights, and your happy loved ones. But you’re moored just outside the mouth of the harbour. Then your lifeboat, and its team, goes. They drop the ropes into the water and sail away.
You might think: I can get back to port on my own. You’ve been there before, after all. And you can see it, right there, quite close. But it all feels different now. Your boat is still damaged. You need time for repairs. You need to get a new map and provisions. And you keep looking at the sky – is the storm coming back? You listen constantly, obsessively, to the weather forecast – you hear reports of hurricanes. They may be far away, but you can’t stop yourself from feeling that they are coming for you.
This boat analogy may seem long-winded, but it accurately describes what surviving cancer can feel like – does feel like – for many people.


Good analogy. Actually much of this book is really good, and I do recommend it to cancer survivors, if you are interested.

I am extremely exhausted tonight, so I can't write more. I hope to have more energy to write tomorrow. I'll just throw in here one exciting thing-- I have reservations to go to the US in September! I will spend time with my parents and family in NY, and also attend the author's convention in Baltimore!! I am so excited!!


  1. The book you mentioned reminded me of an interview I heard with Robert Lipsyte, author of "In the Country of Illness: Comfort and Advice for the Journey" ( I haven't read it, but the interview was interesting. His analogy was that having a serious illness was like a difficult journey to another land.

    1. Interesting book, Lee- I just took a look at it. That analogy works for me, too.I don't personally write using many analogies- I just usually say it how it is, but I really appreciate when others manage to express these feelings in analogy. It reaches different people in different ways. Thanks!