Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Cancer Vixen Book Review

I just read Cancer Vixen by Marisa Acocella Marchetto.  Why? Because…

1.    The idea of a graphic novel about cancer seemed intriguing, e.g. would the “cartoony” format trivialize the situation?
2.    I wanted to know if it would seem similar or derivative of Suzy Becker’s wonderful “I Had Brain Surgery, What’s Your Excuse?”
3.    I wondered how would cancer change somebody who has a “vixen” self-image?

So what’s the Cancer Vixen all about?  The book tells the multilayer story of Ms. Marchetto, a nationally known cartoonist (New Yorker, Modern Bride, etc.) and avowed fashionista, who learns that she has breast cancer. The ensuing treatments, including chemo and radiation, are debilitating and, financial insult to cancer injury, she doesn’t have medical insurance.  If that wasn’t enough, her heavy cancer story is unfolding at the same time as a serious romance is budding.

So, what did I like about the book?

-The cartoons were terrific!  They were not only great story-telling devices; they helped express the depth of her emotions – from terror to rage to self-pity and beyond (and they didn’t remind me of Suzy Becker’s work).

-Her self-reflection, which resulted in her writing that “how can I love myself when I’ve been a narcissistic fashionista who put her priorities in all the wrong things?”

-She draws the scary chemo equipment including needles, mediports and chemo bay.
What didn’t I like about it?  Small things – the name dropping…I can’t think of anything else.

I am also impressed that she started the Cancer Vixen fund for uninsured victims of breast cancer.  Here’s a link to the YouTube video  about it - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d8XjRWNjh64  - and the website for the fund - http://marisamarchetto.com/blog/?page_id=13

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