Tuesday, September 6, 2011

What We Have: Book Review

What We Have
By Amy Boesky

What We Have is the story of a family of women. Most of the women in the family are predisposed to ovarian cancer, this haunts the author constantly.

  Amy is a young woman in her thirties, she is a professor at a top college. She is on a time clock, because she is worried for herself, and her sisters. She is recently married, and would like to have children right away. Because if she waits she realizes she may not be able to have children. She is worried that she will succumb to Ovarian Cancer, like the rest of her family.

 Amy's mother had Ovarian treatment long ago.  She then went on with her life. But, researchers, were not aware of is, that just because you were "CURED" of Ovarian Cancer, doesn't mean that you can't get another cancer, Breast cancer. 

Amy and her sisters,and father watched their mother succumb to the disease. There was nothing that could be done. She eventually passed away.

After her mother's death, Amy and her sisters had to decide if they wanted the blood test for the gene BRCA1 and BRCA2. If they find out the results are positive, do they go further with this and have the surgery to prevent the spread of cancer? What about their children? grandchildren? Sons?

My Thoughts: When I saw this memoir, I knew I had to read this. This story is my story in certain ways.  My Mother, Grandmother, and Great Aunt all have a history of breast cancer. My Grandma and Great Aunt both had Mastectomies, and lived on for many more years. My Mother had a lump removed from her breast and had lympthectomy done on that side of the breast. For me, in my forties I had a benign biopsy, so far nothing yet has developed. But, I am waiting.

 The memoir, does not take place now, this happened in the 1980's. This story is not just about the disease.  But, also how the family coped with their predisposition to the illness, as well as their mother succumbing to the illness, and her eventual death.   But about the close knit family, and how they coped with their mother's illness. How they became closer and what they did with their knowledge about the disease.

After I read this memoir, I wondered to myself about my family's predisposition of breast cancer. My I would not have the test to determine if I am predisposed to breast cancer. I also would not have the preventive surgery either.

I also thought of my brother's, even though it seems it runs on the female side. It also seems that there is a high percentage of prostate cancer that sons could get it. Also Jewish families. 

The first 100 pages, I did not love the book. She was talking about marriage and babies. I was not interested. I was hoping the memoir was about women that are previvors. But, the book changed after to what I was looking for.  I  am happy that I continued on to  read this book. 

If you want to read more about the illness, you can visit the author's website. There are a few articles. This book is good for book discussions.  To discuss the illness, with your families, and sisters.  Good book to read alongs with family members( sisters, mothers etc.). I had a good discussion with my mother about this book.

I would recommend this to many people I know.


bermudaonion said...

I love memoirs, so I have a feeling I would enjoy this book.

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Carin Siegfried said...

I read this book too, a few months ago, and really enjoyed it. This is luckily not the story of my family as (knock wood) cancer doesn't run, but it does for a few friends of mine, and we all know people who've gotten it just out of the blue.

I read it more as one would a regular memoir that one doesn't have a personal interest in, so the first 100 pages didn't bother me like they did you, but I can certainly see how they would, if you were expecting a different sort of book.

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