Carrie Host is 40 years old when she is told that she has a rare form of cancer: carcinoid tumors. She is a mother of three children, two older and a ten-month old baby. She is quite simply devastated. Carcinoid cancer is resistant to chemo and radiation; the only option is surgery and even with surgery this type of cancer usually comes back. Carrie goes home to prepare for surgery and of course all she can think about is what will happen to her family, will she see her children grow up and get married and have children of their own.
This book is a very honest portrayal of cancer and what it is like to deal with it and live through it. We’re taken through Carrie and her husband Amory finding the best team of doctors for her and then through the pain ridden journey she is on after her surgery. Carrie was fortunate in that she not only has a wonderful husband but a great support system altogether in family and friends. She also had the benefit of good insurance which goes a long way to getting good treatment as well. For me, my heart just broke for her reading her very personal thoughts about her family and her very real fears for herself and them.
From the moment I opened this book I had a hard time putting it down. It is difficult to read and yet hopeful at the same time. Carrie pulls the reader deeply into her story with her flowing writing style. I found this book to really have an impact on me. I’ve had several people in my family pass from cancer but my aunt and a very close friend were the two I was closest too. My aunt spent her time at our house when having her chemo treatments and it is painful to watch them lose their hair and be tired and depressed and know there isn’t much you can do to help. As a family member and friend you too feel helpless in the face of this awful ravaging disease.
Thankfully Carrie is still with us and has been successful in fighting her cancer. Obviously she will have to be vigilant all the time but she first started her battle in 2003 and she is here and sharing her story with us now. I think this novel would be comforting to cancer patients to read – someone who understands what they’re going through – someone who gets it. It’s also helpful for those of us who have been through this disease with someone else or are now dealing with it. It gave me great insight into how my aunt and my friend felt in the face of their cancer.
Carrie compares her journey with cancer to a river and it is an excellent comparison. Instead of trying to explain what I probably can’t I’ll share this quote with you that I found so profound…
- ‘You are on the river. You are in a boat, and it even has oars. You have the distinct sense that these simple facts are about to change. You hear the distant roar of the great falls you are headed for, as the river’s current gains speed and depth beneath you. I can barely hear his voice above the rolling waves that are taking me down. The oars are stripped away and the oarlocks are empty. I hold on to the boat but it does not hold on to me. I can just make out the word cancer amid the deafening roar and spray, and then the river swallows me up and every sound with me.’ (pg 25)
I will not soon forget Carrie’s memoir and it will remain on my shelves as one I may pick up again. I also have to make mention of the absolutely beautiful cover. Make sure to visit Carrie’s website here and you can purchase Between Me and the River here in the US and here in Canada.
Thanks to Lisa Roe for the opportunity to read this beautiful book.