Friday, February 01, 2008

What Mrs N's Been Reading - Side Effects

Just finished Amy Goldman Koss' Side Effects. It's the story of Isabelle, an eighth-grader who is diagnosed with lymphoma. It follows her from the initial doctor's appointment, through chemo. At first glance, this could be an incredibly depressing book, but it isn't. What the author chose to focus on, was the ways that Isabelle coped with everything, and the reactions of the people around her. Anyone who has been through it can relate, especially to the ways some people choose to react to a person with cancer. Izzy's mother insists on not using the word cancer at all - lymphoma sounds so much nicer. Some people ignore her. Some are nauseatingly nice. Some treat her as though she's already on death's doorstep. Very few people actually just acknowledge it realistically. If you haven't been through it, you don't understand the warped sense of humor that many cancer patients and caregivers develop. My husband finished chemo about 2 years ago. Koss' portrayals are pretty realistic. Isabelle uses drawings, and a lot of sarcasm to cope. I also liked that Koss ephasized the fact that no 2 people react to chemo the same way. If you know one person who has been through it, don't assume that another person will feel the same side effects, either at all, or to the same extent. That's partly because there are so many different types of chemo. If you know someone who's going through cancer treatment, definitely read this book. It may make you see, not only the cancer, but that person in a very different light. For most of us, that would be a very good thing.

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