Excellent Interview and New Book
Hester Hill Schnipper, LICSW Program Manager, Oncology Social Work
FEBRUARY 15, 2018
It is always a pleasure to discover a new author who writes eloquently, thoughtfully, and well about life in Cancer World. Sometimes the writer is a clinician, more often it is a patient or family member who shares her experience in a particularly good way. I was delighted to hear an interview on NPR with Kate Bowler about her new memoir: Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I've Loved. Ms. Bowler is a young wife and mother who has been diagnosed with Stage IV cancer. Somehow she is managing to use this sadness to help the rest of us--and, I hope, herself.
The book is not only wonderful, but also has some good, practical suggestions for the people around us. I often suggest to my patients that one way to manage the stupid or hurtful remarks that come their way is to keep a real or, at least, a mental list of them. Then, when someone says something like: "Oh, my cousin had that same cancer, and she died....", there is someplace to put it. And this is another opportunity to share my best all purpose response to those comments: Pause a moment, and then, in a puzzled, not an angry way, say: " Why did you say that to me?" This very effectively puts the responsibility back on them, and usually leads to some squirming and apologies. As well it should. It is not your job to protect others' feelings in this situation.
Many of us do find that writing or journaling (or, I suppose, doing this daily blog) is an excellent way to process our feelings and thoughts and better understand ourselves and our world. She does this with grace. Here are some excerpts from the interview. I strongly recommend that you at least read the conversation and, hopefully, are then motivated to read the book. (Note: this is a tragic situation, and you are excused from any further reading if just thinking about it makes you too sad.)