|Dodging Dandelions by Ron Richards|
I could tell from the e-mail the book, written by Ron Richards, was at least in part about how his wife had breast cancer. My initial thought was to not take the book. I'm not going to lie, given that the title says "a memoir of love, loss and acceptance" I was pretty sure that at some point, I would be reading about a woman dying from breast cancer.
You can imagine, I'm pretty hesitant to go there. Beyond just my own experience with breast cancer, I've lost too many friends to breast cancer and know too many others who are currently living with stage iv breast cancer.
And yet, somehow I was drawn to this book. A book about breast cancer. Written from a husband's perspective.
That is what drew it to me. My husband has been a rock the last couple of years and has had to assume the role of care giver more than we'd ever wish. But if I ask how he's doing, he says fine. He sometimes says in that I'm joking, but not really joking tone, that even if he wasn't fine, he certainly wouldn't tell me about it.
So I decided to take up the offer - be sent the book in exchange for blogging about it (though, here's where I throw in despite the fact that they gave me the book, all opinions are my own). I wanted to get a husband's point of view. And I just hoped that even if the book felt overwhelming to me at times, that I'd be able to get through it.
The book arrived. I was hesitant to start it at first, and we had a brief trip away from home, so I set it aside. But last week I finally felt ready to dive in.
Ron writes an honest and open account of life with his wife Sara and their two children Andrew and Jennifer.
Ron and Sara were leading the typical life - both working, Andrew just a babe (21 months) when they learned Sara had breast cancer.
Sara was 31.
I was 31 when I was diagnosed.
Sara underwent a mastectomy.
I underwent a mastectomy.
I know this story isn't about me, and yet, it's hard to unweave my story from it. I've had almost 3 years to process the words "You have cancer" and stories that are so familiar just bring me back to that moment.
After this, Sara and Ron get a break from cancer. In that time, they adopted a daughter from South Korea. Both of them working, living life. But as Ron write, "Not many days passed when it [cancer] didn't pop into my head, at least for a few moments ... As we looked ahead we figured cancer was something we would see again."
Yes, yes, I found myself nodding along. This is how I feel most days. Not that I'm running around weeping and freaking out, but it's there.
Of course, the cancer comes back. Not just once either.
As they navigate Sara's cancer, and the periods between her cancer, life marches forth, as it always does. Andrew and Jenny grow up. They realize quickly that Jenny has some issues that need to be dealt with - bipolar, oppositional defiant disorder. Ron has his own health issues to deal with.
Just so much for one family to deal with.
And yet, this story is about hope, about not giving up, but giving in to what's going on in your life when it's time.
The story is sad, and yet, it's beautiful. It's beautiful how they manage to stay together even in the hard moments, even when it is work, even when it feels like it might be easier to just give up.
This story sucked me in and wouldn't let me go. Even though I'm done with it now, I feel like I need to sit with it. Absorb it some more.
I appreciated reading things from Ron's perspective. I don't think being a care giver is easy, but it makes me appreciate even more all that my husband went through. I now have a glimpse into what he went through.
Ron's story Dodging Dandelions wasn't about me. But it was hard to separate myself from the story as I read it. I suppose it's normal. And isn't that what a good book is supposed to do? To suck you in? To touch you? To move you?
I think so. And so, I highly recommend Dodging Dandelions. Pick it up. Read it. I hope it moves you as much as it moved me.