I went straight to the bookstore after I got the “I’m sorry it’s cancer” phone call; surely amongst all the wisdom coded into letters and words, pressed to paper, and bound to books, would be some little snippet that would tell me how to move forward.
Since that day I’ve read a lot of books about living with cancer, but when Katherine Malmo placed the slender, uncorrected galley of “Who in This Room” in my hands, I knew I was in possession of something different.
Katherine’s book did not tell me how to move forward. But it was the first I’ve read that really connected with me on how it feels to have cancer.
That’s not to say the book is touchy-feely, in fact, it’s quite the opposite. One of my favorite quotes from the book shows her trepidation at joining a cancer support group: “You are afraid someone will try to hold your hand or leap from behind the ficus to hug you.” That pretty much sums up the way I felt the first time I walked into a support group meeting with the Young Survival Coalition.
I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I’ve had this book for well over a month, and I’ve been struggling with how to write this review. I want to tell you that reading this book is like going through the process of diagnosis, treatment, grieving, and moving on – but then who would want to read a book described like that?
And I do want you to read this book. I want my friends to read it. I want my family to read it. Because even though this is Kate’s story, it is my story, too. And the story of all my friends who have looked cancer in the eye, and stared down death… even if only for a little while.
This is not a sad book. This is not a book that is just about cancer, although that obviously drives the story line. This is a story about getting up every day and living. And this is a book that ends at the start of her brand new life.