Breast cancer made Jennie Nash a wise old woman at the age of thirty-six. She learned, among other things, that her instincts are good, her kids are really resilient, and that, in the fight against breast cancer, the journey for patients, family, and friends can be a surprisingly positive, life-changing experience.
Some five years younger than the AMA-recommended age for mammograms, Jennie Nash insisted she be tested, not because of a lump but because of a hunch brought on by a friend's battle with lung cancer. Jennie was as shocked to discover as her friend had been that cancer knows no age limits.
From detection and surgery to reconstruction and recovery, Jennie gives readers a road map for a journey no one chooses to take. She details both the large and small lessons learned along the way: the importance of a child's birthday cake; the pleasure of wearing a beautiful, provocative red dress; how to be grateful rather than guilty when someone brings lasagne to the door; and that sometimes the only difference between getting to live and having to die is luck.
A celebration of survival, Jennie Nash's account transforms one of life's most harrowing experiences into a story of reassurance and enlightenment.
These are just a few of the books coming out for October Breast Cancer Awareness MonthTHE VICTORIA'S SECRET CATALOG NEVER STOPS COMING: And Other Lessons I Learned from Breast CancerJennie Nash. Scribner, $20 (160p) After she discovered that a close friend from high school days was diagnosed with advanced metastatic lung cancer, Nash (Altared States: Surviving the Engagement, 1992), a freelance writer, knew intuitively that a tightness on the left side of her chest was a sign of breast cancer. Her first mammogram was negative, but at a six-month follow-up, 35-year-old Nash was diagnosed with the disease. In this forthright memoir, the author recalls in a series of chapters labeled "lessons" what she learned from going through the ensuing mastectomy and breast reconstruction. In Lesson #2 ("Bad News Does Less Damage When It's Shared"), she explains how the support of her husband, who lost his mother to breast cancer, her family and friends was a "critical component" to her recovery. In another touching but almost lighthearted lesson ("Courage Doesn't Always Dress in Camouflage"), Nash describes a party that she attended shortly before her operation, where she turned heads by uncharacteristically wearing a sexy red dress. Although she did not require chemotherapy or radiation (her margins were clean), Nash did suffer from the physical aftereffects of a free-flap reconstructive surgery that she nonetheless never regretted having. She shares the difficulties of discussing the illness with her two daughters, aged three and seven, and other stressful family events: during her recuperation, a feud developed between her husband and her mother that was obviously a result of the emotional toll her illness took on them. This honest account of a young mother who survived breast cancer will be helpful to others in the same situation.