When Meg Stafford discovered that she had breast cancer, she began sharing her experiences with friends through her “Breasty Business Updates.” These emails allowed her to journal her feelings about what was happening to her, and it also gave her friends an avenue in which they could provide her with support. These updates eventually evolved into Topic of Cancer.
Keeping an incredibly positive attitude, Meg educates us on what happens once a diagnosis of cancer is made. She shares her feelings, her medical experiences and how her family was also affected. Following her two-year journey, we learn the ins and outs of cancer treatment. For the most part, Meg’s experiences with medical personnel were extremely positive. I suspect that her positive attitude helped with this. Her treatments with radiation and chemo were not easy. Neither was the experience of having her physical identity shift because of the hair loss and the loss of her breast. The reconstructive surgery was very involved and time consuming. She also had to deal with an unrelated medical problem with her hand which also resulted in more surgery. Instead of focusing on the negative, Meg focuses on the positive. I felt like I was celebrating with her as she got her hair back, and at the completion of each treatment.
Having had two cancer scares this year, one involving the breast, my gratitude towards having negative test results increased exponentially. While Meg maintained an upbeat attitude about what she was going through, I don’t think I could have been as strong as she was. I was able to develop a much greater respect for the experiences that my friends, who have survived breast cancer, have gone through. What strong women they all are. While Meg educates us with her story, she also teaches an incredibly valuable lesson in that we should not stop celebrating life, no matter what we are hit with. Her exuberance for maintaining a fitness routine, and trying not to miss work was incredible. Those of us who are not ill should take this as a message to appreciate what we have now, while we have it.
Topic of Cancer is a must read for people who have or are experiencing breast cancer, and for those who are close to them. I would also highly recommend this book for women’s reader groups. I can’t imagine anything more valuable for a group to read. I am very grateful for having the opportunity to read Meg Stafford’s story.
Topic of Cancer: Riding the Waves of the Big C
Virginia Martin Press (2011)