Thursday, July 31, 2014

Survival Lessons, by Alice Hoffman

The novelist Alice Hoffman was diagnosed with breast cancer more than a decade and a half ago. Having survived for an extended period, she wrote this slim volume (it can be read in less than an hour)  of what she "would have most wanted to hear" when she was newly diagnosed. Her words are positive, though they do not strike me as profound (I must qualify that comment with the acknowledgment that I have not yet faced a life-threatening illness and may simply not understand how much someone in that situation needs to hear this advice). Her chapter titles summarize her points and emphasize that, despite being ill, a patient has choices, as the word "choose" begins each title. Examples: choose your heroes, to enjoy your self, your friends, to plan for the future,  to love who you are, to accept sorrow, to dream. While this strikes me as a book that would not have published if the author weren't a well-known writer, if it in fact helps some folks with cancer or other illnesses, then more power to Alice Hoffman.

Favorite passages:
I wrote to remind myself that in the darkest hour the roses still bloom, the stars still come out at night. And to remind myself that, despite everything that was happening to me, there were still choices I could make.

My expectations of what I wanted in a man I learned from a dog: loyalty and kindness.

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