Down to the Marrow by Catherine Ann Stone Bryant Park Press
reviewed by Deborah Straw
"And then, voilà, the host which is I in this case, is diagnosed with something called non-Hodgkin lymphoma. As you all realize, I am not happy about having this disease for many, many reasons, but I am really upset that I have to go through all this for a disease that has non in front of its name."
None of us want to hear a diagnosis of the C word from our doctors, yet few families are spared. That said, more people are surviving due to early intervention and new protocols.
Over the last decade or more, a number of cancer memoirs have appeared. People who have gone to the brink of death have returned with a story to tell, perhaps to create a guidepost in case it happens to us. Down to the Marrow is Catherine Ann Stones memoir about her struggle with lymphoma. Her brother was previously diagnosed and recovered from leukemia, so her family was familiar with the disease. Beginning with her diagnosis (she had hoped it was malaria), the story follows her treatments until she undergoes a bone marrow transplant. One year later, she receives a perfect bill of health.
Although Stone's memoir exists in a crowded genre, it stands out for its self-deprecating humor. An inveterate worrier, she talks to herself, writes letters she never sends, and has witty, sarcastic dialogue with family and friends. Stone is a wife, mother, web site developer, and stamp collector. She is an active woman who did not let her illness slow her down. Like most survivors, she has a positive attitude, never giving in to what might have been a death sentence.
This is a worthwhile read, especially for those diagnosed with the disease as it delineates many treatments and medical points of view. Stone was extremely fortunate to have access to excellent medical care. As many patients who have faced death have done, Stone discovers that she is only one small part of the world, glad to be alive and to tell about it.