The Middle Place: Read with Tissues in Hand

The Middle PlaceMany of my readers may remember just this past fall when my Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. She’s still undergoing radiation treatment which will finish up the first week of February. She’s feeling decent and optimistic about recovery. Sadly, a good friend of mine (whom some of you read on a regular basis and if you don’t, well, you should) was just diagnosed with Inflammatory Breast Cancer. (I’ll be adding a special page for her on the blog when I get five minutes to edit!)

And all of that is why The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan was pretty hard for me to read. Not a bad kind of hard, mind you. But that uncomfortable, too-close-to-home kind of hard that makes you both nod and count your lucky stars at the same time. In case you couldn’t guess, the book is a memoir about the author’s breast cancer battle in her thirties. But, wait, it gets all the more interesting when, during her own battle, her father is diagnosed with bladder cancer. While they live on opposite coasts of the country.

My own mother only lives two hours away. When I was on bed rest with LittleBrother during the last few months of my pregnancy, she had her partial mastectomy. She wasn’t allowed to drive or travel far. I wasn’t allowed to drive or travel far. We both felt helpless with regard to the other’s health battles. I wanted to help her out with things. She wanted to help me out with things. And we were stuck in our respective beds or on our own couches, telephones to our ears. And so I was resonating, in my own way, with the emotion that Corrigan was feeling as her Dad was battling cancer so very far away while she was unable to get away and help him out. And I wasn’t undergoing chemo, just stuck in bed trying to properly bake a baby.

I really couldn’t put the book down. I needed to know how it ended. For my Mom. For my friend. For myself. I wanted everything to be okay. Quite frankly, I needed everything to be okay. It’s been a trying couple of months for me, never having to deal with the big C-word (cancer, folks) prior to this stage in my life. (Though two great-grandparents died of various cancers. I was four when Great-Grandpa died and thus remember nothing other than his funeral. I was seventeen when Great-Grandma died but she went quickly, leaving us little time to dwell on the issue.) And, guys, this is my Mom we’re talking about. And friends! And my future health. And so everything written in this book was something that I felt to my core.

I’ve marked The Middle Place as a “Must Read for 2008.” Do I think that those going through breast cancer treatment should read it? I’m hesitant, of course, as every individual has a unique experience but I ultimately come up with a “yes” answer. The message is ultimately positive and possibly uplifting for someone undergoing such treatment, whether it is chemo, surgery or radiation. Do I think family members should read it? Most definitely. Do I think those who have no experience with cancer should read it? Of course because no one seems to be exempt from the C-word, despite class or education or marital status. Cancer isn’t all that picky.

It’s not an easy read. Quick, yes, because you will want to know how it turns out. But not easy. There were things I didn’t know about chemo. There were things I learned that made me worry. I cringed and cried. But I also laughed and rejoiced. Corrigan wrote an outstanding memoir that not only celebrates her own successful battle with cancer but gives hope to those fighting the battle and their families.

Of note: Kelly also has a personal website and a cancer website. Circus of Cancer is for friends and family who have a loved one fighting cancer. I can’t recommend it enough… even though I wish none of us ever had to visit such a site.

I was sent The Middle Place via Mother Talk for review. I declined an Amazon gift card so that I could review it on the family blog as opposed to our review blog because I felt so strongly about this book, the breast cancer fight and sharing this book with others. The book is now available on Amazon. Treat yourself or someone you love.

Six Down

Six WeeksToday I had an appointment. You know, the appointment. The one that falls six weeks after birthing a child into the world. The one in which the doctor inspects things, visible and not-so-visible, to make sure that everything is in working order. The visit that brings up a green light in several areas of life. The one that causes many a mother to stress out about how things look and panic about being touched. I mean, do you remember internal exams during labor? None too comfortable! But, alas, it’s a necessary one. It’s normally good to make sure things have healed. And green lights are good.

I held off my shower until the last possible minute to assure cleanliness upon arrival. And then, of course, I had to wait forever because babies are always born at inopportune times! Didn’t that child know that I was sitting on an exam table, paper sheet around my expanded hip size, rocking LittleBrother’s car seat carrier with my foot? It was a balmy seventy degrees out today but that’s still rather chilly on a naked behind in a cold exam room.

Without being graphic, things checked out okay. And that’s always nice to hear. To boot, my doctor made me feel like a Superstar Mama for breastfeeding thus far, with only minor issue and planning on continuing long into the future. He went on and on, for quite some time, about the benefits. I didn’t bother telling him that he was preaching to the choir. But when he commented on LittleBrother’s chunking-out-cheeks, well, my pride soared a little. I did that! I did that!

But part of me is sad.

Say what?

That’s right. I’m sad. My doctor gave me a big ole bear hug at the end of the appointment. Probably not uber-professional. But I liked my doctor and my doctor liked me. (Not like that.) He cared for me and both of my parented children through two tumultuous pregnancies. He worked closely with me to ensure that the boys made it to term and were healthy and strong despite many complications. He shared laughter with us and consoled us when we had fears, when we had loss. And now? Well, our monthly-to-weekly meetings are now gone. For good. As LittleBrother will be the last one to join our family, I won’t have a reason to receive such stellar care in that manner. And, to make me even more sad, it wasn’t just my awesome doctor. I was close with at least one nurse (who was kind enough to pop in our room when I was in labor). And now? I’ll see them once a year if things go like they should health wise.

It’s the end of an era.

One would think I’d be glad to say goodbye to internal exams and peeing in a cup and sitting around with a chilly behind. But when your care is as good as mine was for both boys, well, it’s just kind of hard to say goodbye. That’s when you know that your care was top notch.
All that said: six weeks down, and, uh, a whole bunch more to go. (When do these kids turn eighteen? HA!)