Book Review...And Beneath It All Was Love: My Path Back Home Again Through Breast Cancer
Cancer is so ubiquitous, likely most everyone either has had it or knows someone who has been diagnosed with it.
I was thirteen when my father had a type of blood cancer that soon took his life. Much later, I had cancer that necessitated surgery and my life has continued for decades without recurrence of the disease. My mother died from pancreatic cancer and my husband died from lung cancer.
Two years ago, my sister-in-law had chemotherapy and radiation after being diagnosed with breast cancer. I was with her the day she bought her wig and I also helped shave off her hair after it began falling out.
During our drives to the hospital, she would talk about her symptoms caused by the treatment, wondering if they were normal.
And Beneath It All Was Love: My Path Back Home Again Through Breast Cancer, written by breast cancer survivor Aime Alley Card, charts her own path from diagnosis to completion of her treatment, which included intense rounds of chemotherapy and radiation to kill an aggressive form of the cancer.
Perhaps as a general aid to caregivers and friends of women diagnosed with breast cancer, Card does not shy away from describing how her body reacted to the treatment, sometimes preventing her from celebrating life’s moments because her energy levels were non-existent. She writes about wanting to forego treatment because of the harsh side effects, yet finding the will to continue.
Card skillfully interweaves the facts about her medical journey with snippets about her husband, Scott, and their two children, 11-year-old Catherine and her younger brother, Wesley. The reader gets to see how their love and support enables Card to continue the brutal treatment sessions and reach the light at the end of the tunnel.
Having relocated to Silicon Valley because of her husband’s work, Card feels isolated from her family and friends living in Boston. At the time of her own diagnosis, she is still grieving her mother’s recent death from cancer and fears she will not survive to raise her own children.
Card introduces readers to her various Silicon Valley friends who make meals, or accompany her to treatments when Scott cannot, or provide emotional support. Unbeknownst to her friends, their help sometimes proves to be too draining on Card’s energy supply. She eventually realizes she is partially at fault for being “one of those people who appeared on the outside to sail through it.”
During her months-long ordeal, Card realizes her priorities are shifting. The pressures entailed with living in pretentious, high-tech Silicon Valley eventually give way to a desire to live a simpler life elsewhere.
And Beneath It All Was Love is worth reading. To think that Card wrote much of it during the dark days of her cancer treatment is mind-blowing to me, but was likely cathartic to her.