The Adventures of Cancer Bitch
By S. L. Wisenberg
(University Of Iowa Press, Hardcover, 9781587298028, 160pp.)
Publication Date: March 2009
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Wisenberg may have lost a breast, but she retained her humor, outrage, and skepticism toward common wisdom and most institutions. While following the prescribed protocols at the place she called Fancy Hospital, Wisenberg is unsparing in her descriptions of the fumblings of new doctors, her own awkward announcement to her students, and the mounds of unrecyclable plastic left at a survivors’ walk. Combining the personal with the political, she shares her research on the money spent on pink ribbons instead of preventing pollution, and the disparity in medical care between the insured and the uninsured. When chemotherapy made her bald, she decorated her head with henna swirls in front and an antiwar protest in back. During treatment, she also recorded the dailiness of life in Chicago as she rode the L, taught while one-breasted, and attended High Holiday services and a Passover seder.
S. L. Wisenberg is the author of The Sweetheart Is In and Holocaust Girls: History, Memory, and Other Obsessions. The New Yorker, Ploughshares, Tikkun, the New England Review, and the Michigan Quarterly Review have published her poetry and prose, and her work has been widely anthologized, most recently in Rules of Thumb: 73 Authors Reveal Their Fiction Writing Fixations, Short Takes: Brief Encounters with Contemporary Nonfiction, and Creating Nonfiction: A Guide and Anthology. She is a codirector of Northwestern University's MA/MFA in creative writing as well as a visiting scholar in Gender Studies at Northwestern. She also teaches at the University of Chicago Graham School of General Studies. Her blog Cancer Bitch can be read at http://cancerbitch.blogspot.com/.
"The Adventures of Cancer Bitch is witty and relentless, surprising and honest. Wisenberg has walked through the Valley of Cancer and she is willing to tell all; this is a cornucopia of breast cancer information as well as a very smart, funny read from an excellent writer."—Audrey Niffenegger, author, The Time Traveler’s Wife
“Forget the sappy little pink ribbons. When chemotherapy takes S. L. Wisenberg's hair, she turns her bald head into an antiwar billboard. Read The Adventures of Cancer Bitch to meet a smart, funny, big-hearted woman who questions everything from her own mortality to career envy to why nobody thinks the particulars of hair loss are as fascinating a subject for extended dinner-party conversation as she does. Along the way, Wisenberg makes you proud to think that you, too, might possibly be a cancer bitch.”—Ruth Pennebaker, author, Both Sides Now
“Frank, funny, fierce, and at times devastating, Cancer Bitch is a rare achievement. S. L. Wisenberg has written a book of tremendous value for anyone who has ever had cancer or anyone who has ever worried about getting it; in short, everyone."— Rachel Schukert, author, Have You No Shame? and Other Regrettable Stories