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Memoir of a Debulked Woman: Enduring Ovarian Cancer
 
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Memoir of a Debulked Woman: Enduring Ovarian Cancer [Kindle Edition]

Susan Gubar

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Review

An extraordinary testament to the human spirit at least, to Susan Gubar's indomitable spirit a rare mixture of honesty, eloquence, humor, and passionate curiosity about the truth... The voice is so utterly intimate, the reader will find herself, or himself, drawn into sharing the author's deepest thoughts, fears, and wishes. The memoir is a treasure-chest of wonderful, uncommon cultural allusions and lines of poetry; the reader feels honored to be in the presence of a first-rate, restless mind, being taken to a place of devastating clarity. There is pathos here, but not self-pity; amid the tragic and sorrowful, sudden flashes of wit. --Joyce Carol Oates "This is her [Susan Gubar's] attempt to share and make sense of her experience, delivered in a voice that is intelligent, feminist and devastatingly honest." International Herald Tribune

Product Description

A 2012 New York Times Book Review Notable Book


"Staggering, searing…Ms. Gubar deserves the highest admiration for her bravery and honesty."—New York Times


Diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2008, Susan Gubar underwent radical debulking surgery, an attempt to excise the cancer by removing part or all of many organs in the lower abdomen. Her memoir mines the deepest levels of anguish and devotion as she struggles to come to terms with her body’s betrayal and the frightful protocols of contemporary medicine. She finds solace in the abiding love of her husband, children, and friends while she searches for understanding in works of literature, visual art, and the testimonies of others who suffer with various forms of cancer.



Ovarian cancer remains an incurable disease for most of those diagnosed, even those lucky enough to find caring and skilled physicians. Memoir of a Debulked Woman is both a polemic against the ineffectual and injurious medical responses to which thousands of women are subjected and a meditation on the gifts of companionship, art, and literature that sustain people in need.

Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 674 KB
  • Print Length: 313 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0393073254
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (April 23 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007F7XYMC
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #132,620 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  38 reviews
41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Astonishing and well-written memoir about a difficult cancer treatment May 2 2012
By Joanna Daneman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is an astonishing memoir about a woman's "enduring" ovarian cancer. That is to say, not a "cure" or even assurance of survival, but author Susan Gubar agreed to undergo a radical, surgically difficult treatment for ovarian cancer, and she's also a fantastic writer. So not only does she share her experience, she is able to write poignantly and meaningfully about going through absolute hell to survive one of the more difficult types of cancer.

I personally was unfamiliar with "debulking"--having had studied some aspects of oncology as part of my graduate work in immunology years ago, I had become familiar with many of the new treatments (Whipple surgery for pancreatic cancer, seeding prostate cancers, lumpectomies, etc) but had NOT heard about this method of dealing with one of the worst of women's cancers. In general, only about 50 percent of ALL ovarian cancer patients are alive after five years (including early and late detection) as compared to breast cancer patients who have over all an almost 90 percent five year survival statistic. Part of the issue is that breast cancer has early detection methods (self-exam, mammography, ultrasound) and ovarian cancer is silent except for vague symptoms that mimic other things (bloating, pelvic pain, or--sometimes, nothing at all until it's into late stages.) And there are far more chemotherapeutic drugs for breast cancer than for ovarian at this point.

Debulking is the removal of affected organs, whatever can be spared, from the abdomen. In other words, it's major, potentially fatal surgery that tries to physically remove as much of tumor-ridden tissue as possible, removing the load so chemotherapy can work on the remainder, that is, if the type of ovarian cancer is the type that is sensitive to chemotherapy drugs (some sadly are not responsive.)

The author goes over the whys and wherefores of this surgery, which is not for everyone, what happened to her, and goes into not only the medical aspects but her personal story, which is important for any reader. A good part of survival of any disease is attitude and hope, and she gives us a good insight into her own mental state.

This is a fearful and yet inspiring story and though it's hard to read sometimes (because of the sheer awfulness of what happens) it is a very valuable memoir of one woman's journey to survive a terrible disease.
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Validation of debulking's horrific nature and the hollow it leaves behind May 22 2012
By P. Martin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Having a Mom who passed just before Mother's day this yearI can relate to what Ms. Gubar is sharing about the debulking procedures and its effects. My Mother had that endured similar peritoneal & metastatic ovarian cancer for 3 yrs. Debulking's horrific nature and the hollow it leaves behind in the corpse and spirit cannot be understated. However, please don not regret your decision, as your sacrifice is a gift to your family that they will treasure forever. The alternatives just are not there, I suppose. Whats worse is the adhesion's that form and inhibit what systems are left functional. I pains me to think another family must endure this. We must support more research for less invasive procedures to isolate tumors from the organs they bind to. Debulking with a knife is barbaric. It may be the best we have, but its NOT good enough.

Please share and support 'Memoir of a debulked Woman: Enduring Ovarian Cancer' by Susan Gubar via @amazonkindle Bless her, and her family.

REVISED EDIT: Regarding other review comments, it appears several readers fail to comprehend the pain that the author underwent as she penned this and that the writings are infused with a lifetimes worth of reflections, anecdotes and personal comment that are fluid and diverse. The Author is a professor, and hence the excessive references and due diligence. A debulked survivor may be heavily medicated to alleviate pain and anxiety. Its is important to realize that this is a memoir of the feelings and thoughts of a survivor. Its not a medical reference nor a inspirational book - it is a unique perspective of a person who has enormous strength to put her feelings in words under the most challenging circumstances. It is herculean accomplishment that someone in this condition actually authored a book. My mom too was incredibly strong, she painted over 100 works of art reflecting her experience and perspective on life during this period. Its a true testament to human endurance and will to have more "good" days than "bad".
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A GEM of TRUTH May 22 2012
By Airmurph - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The experiences shared in this work are odd. This is because they are exposed in an unusually honest and true manner.

This memoir is a difficult read. The "pill" of knowledge contained here is not coated. This is an uncomfortable book to digest. No question about it if you are "familiar" with cancer. The author's candor provides gems of truth and knowledge that a similar study wrapped in colorful ACS or institutional bows can never accomplish.

As Styron did for depression, Susan Gubar has accomplished, with honesty, for cancer and the "treatments" thereof.

Difficult to call this book wonderful...but that it truly is. Honesty can do dat to and for us all.

Thank you Susan Gubar

PS 3.4.13: The light of my life, my bride Cindi, passed away 3.7.07 six years following a diagnosis of transitional cell carcinoma unknown primary site (rectum). The wisdom of Susan Gubars book would have been highly beneficial to us during the journey. In ways Ms. Gubars humanizing considerations have been very helpful to me in the years since Cindis' death.
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another Survivor's Point of View May 23 2012
By Andrea H - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
As a 1 year late stage Ovarian Cancer survivor I understand where she is coming from. It's incredibly hard for us to see all the advances for other cancers and nothing for Ovarian cancers. It honestly feels like a bizzare high school clique that we can't get into. I'm left constantly dumbfounded as to why. Why is my cancer, the cancer that is so deadly, not discussed. There's no test, there's no public discussion about the symptoms, there's no good treatment, and on and on.

I, unlike the author, do have hope that I can beat this or that a treatment will be found in time for me. My differing view may be due to our age difference, I'm in my late 30's. Still, I would not recommend this book to a newly diagnosed women. You need to be very focused to deal with the surgery and chemo. This type of introspection should be saved for once your feeling back to "normal".

This book is excellently written and really has me thinking about the "silent" in the Silent Cancer reference. The silence is really in the fact that women are not screaming from the rooftops about this horrible cancer, it's symptoms, lack of test and depressing mortally rate. Please help us bring this cancer to into the public dialogue.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A powerful insight into ovarian cancer May 8 2012
By Patricia - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a powerful and wonderful book. The author, Susan Gubar, a very active academic, writes of her struggle with advanced ovarian cancer. Unlike breast cancer, ovarian cancer is very difficult to detect and treat. Like most cases her cancer was found in an advanced stage. Unfortunately, the treatments border on the barbaric and there is little hope for a cure - just stall tactics each one with more dreadful side effects. Even though I myself went through surgery/chemo/radiation for breast cancer (I'm fine now) I had never heard of debulking which is surgery to try to remove whatever cancerous organs can be removed - and that usually includes parts of the bowel. I knew that ovarian cancer was usually fatal but I had no idea what a horrible journey it was. Ms. Gubar appears to be a reserved woman and has a great deal of difficulty talking about her body and the nightmares she faced so it seemed to me that in the first few chapters she was stalling - quoting everyone else and their struggles (very good research) and only skirting her own. I kept wanting her to tell me her specifics and she finally does. And it is dreadful,incredible, beyond belief. Yet she bravely struggles through and gives us her insights about life and facing death - profound, poignant and soul searching. I will share this book (by buying more copies) with many people, particularly those who are struggling with sickness and life/death issues. She has also given me insight on friends struggling with colon cancer - awful. Ms. Gubar has left us a treasure. And, I checked the internet and it seems she is still alive and struggling and writing - go for it, Susan! We want to hear more from you. I HIGHLY recommend this book.

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