AGAIN author Christine Shields Corrigan was fourteen when she first faced cancer. Thirty-five years later, her doctor finds a mass during a routine breast cancer screening and her greatest fear comes true: the Beast is back. Things go from normal to survival in an instant. As Corrigan goes through treatment a second time, she reflects back on her teenage experience with cancer and uses her writing to process the joy, anger, and fear that comes with being a two-time cancer survivor.
AGAIN is an emotional book–part how-to guide and part bearing of the soul. Throughout her diagnosis and treatment, Corrigan is overwhelmed by resentment, bitterness, and envy. As she prepares to face down the Beast for a second time, she comes unmoored and her feelings are complicated by the fact that much of her teenage experience with Hodgkin’s lymphoma (a type of cancer centered in the immune system) was shielded from her by her parents. As a teenager, Corrigan put on a brave front. Now, as an adult, she’s forced to deal with residual emotions that have been buried for more than three decades—the emotional “ghosts of cancer past”. What makes AGAIN unique, though, is its dual narrative. Corrigan’s flashbacks reveal not only her inner psyche, but also the ways that modern medicine have changed over the last thirty-five years. The comparison between Corrigan’s diagnosis and treatment routine in 1981 and 2016 is incredibly interesting, and the familial aspects of the dual narrative are equally enthralling. At forty-nine, Corrigan is determined to deal with her cancer diagnosis in a more open, honest way than her parents did when she was a teenager.
At the end of each chapter is a section called “The Practical Reality” where Corrigan writes first-hand advice about dealing with a cancer diagnosis. She lists tips for dealing with the fatigue and sickening side effects from cancer treatments. She gives examples of how to politely decline unsolicited advice from friends and family members and provides a guide for protecting hair and teeth while undergoing chemotherapy. She shares her experience of finding the right bras after her mastectomy-induced breast reconstruction surgery.
Author Christine Shield Corrigan’s ability to express her emotions and share practical advice for handling a cancer diagnosis are captivating and emotional and the grit and truth of her story–combined with her practical knowledge–make AGAIN a remarkable memoir for all non-fiction readers.
~Stephani Hren for IndieReader