Literature about Cancer

And I mean literary literature, not brochures and such. Next month I'm going to be speaking at a cancer colloquium sponsored by Nearby Big Ten University (NBTU) in an adjoining state. I'll be holding forth in a public library, so I thought it would be good to have a handout of titles of good prose & poetry about the cancer experience. The web site below has a great list of genu-wine literary cancer literature. If you have favorites (that aren't listed on the NYU site), please list 'em in the Comments section. Thank you kindly from Miz Cancer Bitch.


Anonymous said...


Not sure if this would fit what you're looking for, but one of the dearest books to my heart is 'Just Gus.'

The book chronicles the short but deeply devoted relationship between Gus, a stray dog, and Stephanie Williams, a NYC writer (born in Texas!) who was diagnosed at age 30 w/breast cancer. I bought the book because of the dog angle, but found myself equally moved by Stephanie's story.

The story is beautifully photographed and I keep it near my reading chair and re-read it often (it's very short). I confess part of my affection for the story is Gus's resemblance to my own dog, as well as the amazing way in which he literally was found and rescued, etc. Always, however, I am moved by Stephanie's tale, and though you know going in to the book that she does not succeed in her fight, I always find myself hoping that her story will end differently.

The primary theme, I think, is the grace of rescue--dog rescue seems the most obvious example, but soon into the book you realize rescue is a two-way entity, at least in this case (and in many others, including my own).

In the book you'll also learn find that Stephanie wrote a novel, 'Enter Sandman,' and it was her deepest wish that it be completed and published before her time was gone. I've not read the novel, and unfortunately it hasn't received great reviews. I think the initial mood of ES is typical chicklit, but about midway through, the story's main character (a young writer much like the author) learns she has advanced breast cancer. How ES ends, I don't know.

Whether any of this is useful for your seminar, I don't know, but I thought I'd throw it out to you. You also might want to see Stephanie's website (, which remains online, and which has clips of several articles she wrote about dealing w/breast cancer.

Hope you're doing well.

-- Linda

Anonymous said...

Lebanese writer Evelyn Accad's The wounded breast is missing from the list.

Rachel Naomi Remen's Kitchen Table Wisdom is better than her grandfather's tales.

Best from Lois

Cancer Bitch said...

I have The Wounded Breast. Did you give it to me? I don't know where I got it.
--c bitch