Book Review: Not Done Yet: Living Through Breast Cancer

PJ Hamel Health Guide
  • Sometimes, my heart is so full of joy that I feel it might burst out of my chest. Sometimes, my heart is so heavy with sadness for everything I‘ve lost that I can barely move. And sometimes, I feel both ways at the same time.

    Not Done Yet: Living Through Breast Cancer

    Laurie Kingston
    has posted regularly to this site, offering information and hope to all of us—and particularly to those who’ve had a metastasis, or “mets,” as insiders call it. Laurie, a 41-year-old Canadian mother of two young boys, began blogging almost immediately after her diagnosis of breast cancer in January 2006. Ten months later, the cancer had spread to her liver; she had “mets.” And she kept on writing.

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    Now, Laurie has pulled her blogposts into a 2-year journal detailing her life as a woman with cancer: the good, the bad, the ugly, AND the beautiful. Not Done Yet: Living Through Breast Cancer is a candid look at motherhood, friendship, being a wife, and everyday life, all seen through the new lens that cancer offers.

    Not Done Yet
    is a fast read. Not because it’s a short book; it’s a solid 258 pages. But because once you pick it up, it’s hard to stop reading.

    I received a package from Ottawa on a recent Saturday morning: Laurie’s book, which she’d kindly sent. I thought I’d skim through a few pages, sample her style. Two hours later, I’d skimmed, skipped, laughed, felt a lump in my throat, and finally admitted that I simply had to start at the beginning and read all the way through. Which I did.

    One of the lessons cancer has taught me is this: seize the moment. Another is, only in the dictionary does “should” come before “want to.” So much for the Saturday chores.

    Laurie hooked me in her opening paragraphs:

    Well, I’ve finally found a reason to create my own blog.

    I am thirty-eight years old, have two young kids, and breast cancer. Since there has never, as far as I know, been anyone with breast cancer in my family, the odds of it happening to me are quite small indeed. Nor do I have very many of the other risk factors, but here I am.

    I would rather have won the lottery.

    I have, however, decided to deal with this challenge in the way I always do—along with liberal amounts of wine, outings with my dogs, and the abundant support of friends and family—by writing about it.

    Wry. Real. Dealing with it. That’s Laurie’s story. It’s a personally familiar one, for so many of us. Through her week-by-week, sometimes day-by-day detailing of cancer treatment laid atop everyday life (the dog, the kids, school and work), we relive with Laurie those emotions many of us have experienced. And it’s a bittersweet feeling, this “been there, done that” comparison of radiation burns, telling your small son you have cancer, and losing your hair.

    This isn’t a sad book. Nor is it a sicky-sweet, “Oh, cancer has been so good to me” book. It’s just… true. A regular woman dealing with cancer as best she can. And writing about it in an utterly compelling way.

  • Looking for a good read? Something that’ll speak to you, cancer survivor or just plain survivor of life? Get a copy of Not Done Yet.

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    Oh, and be sure to clear your schedule. I guarantee, this is one book you won’t put down till you've savored every word.


    Not Done Yet: Living Through Breast Cancer is available at Amazon.

Published On: May 02, 2009