Mom’s Cancer by Brian Fies

Posted September 13, 2011 by Meoskop in Book Reviews, Graphic, Novels / 0 Comments

Cartoon image of bald cancer patient sitting in hospital, bisected by a window paneProbably you should just go ahead and read the book. This was my short form review –

“I can’t stand cancer books. I’ve done the cancer train too many times, both as bystander and patient. Most cancer books get it wildly wrong. Everything is either a bid for a false sense of control or a cheerleading session. Mom’s Cancer gets it right. Cancer is a disease the whole family shares, a disease that doesn’t end at the points you think it should, whatever the outcome. When I first flipped through Mom’s Cancer I wasn’t ready to read it. I don’t think I’d give this book to someone at the beginning of Cancer Land. Now, a few years later, it’s one of the most meaningful graphic novels I’ve seen. I think the pages on conversation subtext might be the best aspect of the book. Deeply personal and completely universal, Mom’s Cancer is an excellent book.”

Cancer Land is a weird place with not enough Peanut Brittle and way too many Molasses Swamps. You move around the board and hope you’re going to get to the Gingerbread House, but it’s an illusion. You never arrive. There is no Gingerbread House to be had. I had a Medical Meeting today (I take a lot of those, there are never refreshments) followed by an email from a ‘Previvor’ about ‘Previvor Day’. I find the entire ‘Previvor’ concept deeply disturbing. Having been told they have a higher than average genetic risk for cancer, people undergo medical procedures in the hope that it will prevent the cancer from developing.  Or they join support groups. Or otherwise upend their lives because someday something might happen to them. My family would qualify as ‘Previvors’. Of these 19 individuals, one has had cancer. So while I disagree with the ‘Previvor’ movement, I understand the concept. I’m certain the other 18 have their moments of concern. 

Like I said in the short version, Mom’s Cancer is pretty dead on.  Hope you don’t relate at all.