Sunday, November 8, 2009

Not Done Yet - Alice's review

Some time ago a group of us attended a book launch of Laurie Kingston’s “Not Done Yet”. Alice kindly offered to write a review of the book. (Thanks Alice!).

Not Done Yet: Living through breast cancer by Laurie Kingston 2009
Review by Alice McClymont

Laurie Kingston was 38 with an active life, a family and a demanding job when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2005. In November 2006 she learned that the cancer had spread to her liver. Her book “Not Done Yet” published in 2009 by Women’s Press Toronto is a very personal journal of her diagnosis and treatment, written with the utmost honesty, wit, insight and feeling. What makes the book unusual is that it is in the form of a blog with various lengths of entries and that it is a positive, witty and inspiring book in spite of the severity of the topic. Reading this book is like reading someone’s personal journal which involves the reader in the day to day life of Laurie, her very supportive spouse Tim and her two sons. Especially touching are the entries about her sons Sacha and Daniel and, as children often do, they provide some light moments in the midst of difficult times. For example when the boys are playing “pirate treasure” they find Laurie’s prosthesis in a box and ask what that pinkish. squishy thing is. When Laurie replies that it is something to make her look the same on both sides her sons retort with “ Cool”, taking it all in stride.

The book is very informative about various procedures such as bone scans, chemotherapy, ultrasounds and radiation and gives an honest account of both positive and negative communication with various health professionals. It is chilling to read about the kinds of comments that can be made by those who should know better like the medical student who referred to her portacath as a “lump” and the radiation oncologist who, when told the area radiated was still too tender for a prosthesis said ”Well, you have to wear something in public”, this the same doctor who objected to her having a different surname than that of her spouse.

The book will be of interest to different people for different reasons. To other cancer patients or survivors, the book shows how someone with a difficult prognosis can have a superlative outcome and the ups and downs of getting there. To the medical professionals, there are many hints about the importance of treating the patient with care and respect and being very careful of what one says. It is always better to look at the glass as half full no matter the prognosis. To relatives and friends of a cancer patient, the book clearly shows the importance of small gestures and kindness. As one of Laurie’s cards says “Between me and insanity stand my friends”.

As a breast cancer survivor with metastasis I particularly related to this book. I am much older than Laurie but relate so well to her love of reading and how getting into a good book can take your mind off the cancer, and like Laurie I believe a glass of wine can cure many ills. I also relate to Laurie’s wanting to write about her experience, both as therapy and to provide information to others who need positive stories. No one would choose to have cancer but as Laurie says “ my life with cancer is infinitely better than I would have thought possible”.

Laurie's blog: Not Just About Cancer
Read about Alice's journey

1 comment:

laurie said...

Christine and Alice - Thanks so much for this very kind review. The views of those who have been there are the ones that mean the most. I've very much enjoyed meeting you both - take good care.