What We Have
It’s an ugly word, and an even uglier reality.
Nobody likes to think about it, but for some people, like Amy Boesky, it is never far from their thoughts. Amy, her two sisters, her mother, her aunt, her grandmother–all of the female members of her family lived in fear of cancer, and with good reason. Most of them lost their battles with ovarian cancer in their early 40’s. They always knew it was just a matter of time before another one of them would be diagnosed with it, too.
What We Have is an inspiring memoir about Amy’s family and her personal experience as a previvor of cancer. Long before the BRCA1 gene was ever discovered, Amy’s family knew that they were genetically predisposed to ovarian cancer. They all took care to have their children before the age of 35 so that they could have their ovaries removed before the cancer inevitably hit. Amy had just had her first child when her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, despite having had her ovaries removed years earlier. Soon enough, they learned that the two cancers were linked and Amy and her sisters had yet another type of cancer to worry about.
Amy is a professor of English at Boston College, and one of her specialties is timepieces from the 17th century. I absolutely loved how she incorporated her vast knowledge of the subject into the book, and juxtaposed it against the literal race against time that she and her family had run for as long as she could remember.
Then, of course, there is the time they actually had. That’s what makes this book so wonderful. The way Amy realizes what time she does have, and the way she uses that time to live life to its fullest is truly inspiring.
I loved this book. Memoirs aren’t usually my favorite, but this story was truly engaging and I honestly couldn’t put it down. When I did put it down, I was crying (a lot), and I definitely had much to think about. We really never know when we’ll leave this life, or when our loved ones will leave this life, and Amy’s unique experience of actually having an inkling about how things might end up was thought-provoking and even reassuring.
Want to read it? The publisher is offering a copy to one of my readers (US/Canada only; no PO boxes). Leave a comment on this post (normally I like to have a discussion in the comment box that is apropos to the book, but I can’t think of anything this time)(because “tell me how much you hate cancer” or “what would you do if you only had a year to live?” just don’t seem like uplifting discussion topics)(so any comment will suffice)(that is, if you want to win this book). I will announce the winner on Wednesday, September 1.
Thank you to TLC book tours for the opportunity to review this book.
And speaking of good books, and book giveaways, and people named Amy…Amy of Involuntary Smiles won the book Write the Right Words! Congratulations, Amy! Send me your contact info and we’ll get it to you ASAP so you can get to writing some wonderful cards. 🙂
Ok, I'm kind of relieved. When I read the first line I thought, 'No, God, you are not allowed to give cancer to any of my dearies in the Neves family they are too dear." Anyway, cancer is a sad thing. My auntie has battled ovarian cancer for the last few years.
Sounds like a good book to read. I found your blog through Sharyn's.
This sounds like a hopeful book.
I love memoirs. This sounds like an excellent one. Thanks, lady.
I do enjoy a good memoir. "A girl named Zippy" is probably my favorite so far… it's super cute!
My dad has cancer, and it will kill him. We don't know when, but it is now in numerous locations. I have mourned for him and with him, but he is an inspiration to everyone around him. (I'm sorry this is probably the depressing topic you wanted to avoid.) I didn't know how much to hate cancer until it was close to me.
I would like to read this book, though I might have to put it down at times.
Cancer has been on my mind alot over the past 6 years. Not for me but for my brother who lost his battle 1 1/2 years ago. Once cancer has touched your life it does make you stop and look at your life and realize what you have and that you need to live each moment for that moment. Not worded very well but thats the thought right now.
I know I just won, but I so love books, and especially good books. I have to try again. Is that legal? And what a fascinating book this must be!
Wow. Sounds like a powerful book!
My Mom passed away 10 years ago from cancer. I'd like to read this book, tears and all.
Thanks for sharing.
I would love to read this book, my only sister, Brenda, died from cervical cancer 5 years ago… she was 46 years old. My Mom (many years ago)and I (a year after my sister died) have both went through several treatments for phase 1 cervical cancer (SCARY!!!!) but right now we're both doing fine and thanking God for each new day.
Wow! That would be so bizarre to have something like that in the family and to just wait for the other shoe to drop and told you have cancer. I love stories like that, where people learn about what's important.
P.S. I actually thought about your house too when I wrote that post. I love your cottage and the character it has!
Thank you for the nice comment on my photo. This story sounds so incredible and I was just about in tears as I read your description.
Lara, I love your book reviews! I don't often read memoirs, either, but this one sounds like a good one. (Cancer is a 4 letter word in my family, both my grandparents died of it in the past decade…)
Speaking of free books, I have a big giveaway (several books + a set of cookie cutters) this week on my blog. It's been a slow blog week, which means whoever enters is likely to win. Here's the link:
wow, I would love to win this book!
I'd like to read this one, Lara. My pastor's wife is winning (by God's grace!) against ovarian cancer right now!
Having read numerous rave reviews of this book, I would just love to win a copy!
Cancer touches everyone, it seems. My oldest sister had an acute leukemia about 12 years ago, and it really brought my family together. She had a bone marrow transplant from one of my other sisters, and is cancer free now, but an experience like that certainly makes you slow down and reflect on things. Thanks for the post.