Friday, July 25, 2008

Cancer Vixen: A True Story by Marisa Acocella Marchetto

What happens when a 43 year old cartoonist, living in New York City, in love and getting married for the first time in her life, discovers a lump in her breast on a visit to the Doctor's office?

Well, if you're Marisa Acocella, you panic, cry and call on all your closest friends while waiting to find out if the lump is cancerous. Try not to tell your charming Italian Restauranteur Fiancee, because you're afraid he's going to leave you if he finds out you are seriously damaged goods. Then, when it is confirmed, your friends will get behind you and kick your butt to ensure you fight this thing and don't just give up.

Oh yes, and when you do finally tell your fiancee, he won't reject you. He loves you for you, and will not only tell you so, but prove it. And he'll end up marrying you anyway, because he loves you for you. He won't even give those thin, catty models another look. And if they give him their card, he'll feed it to a dog.

This cartoon-based book explores exactly what happened to Marisa Acocella after she was diagnosed with cancer, giving an unexpurgated look at her life and her mental and physical breakdown as the strain of cancer, chemotherapy, operations and so on took their toll on her life.

This story has a happy ending, so far, in that she is still alive and happy. But the ending is not without its clouds. For example, having once had cancer, she has to look out for other forms of it, and had a brush with skin cancer via an abnormal mole. She also had to kiss her chances of ever having a child goodbye, as you should try not to concieve on chemotherapy drugs.

But it isn't all sad. Marisa relates several humorous stories, such as the ones about "Chemo Farts", and when she went to the "rejection show", was dissed by another performer, but still ended up victorious.

This is a bittersweet, true tale of a woman with cancer who wins against her disease. But like all true stories, it isn't as neat as fiction. Nevertheless, women, even those without cancer, should read this book. It's an eminently readable work of biography that has something for everyone.

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