Chemo-Therapist: How Cancer Cured A Marriage by Mary Potter Kenyon is part memoir, part marriage book. I love reading memoirs, although sometimes have trouble reading cancer memoirs because many of them can be scary or depressing. This one, however, is neither scary or depressing, although it is sad since Mary's husband does pass away - not from the cancer (he was cured of his cancer and past his 5-year remission point), but rather of a heart attack.
The description of the book reads:
"When Mary Potter Kenyon’s husband David was diagnosed with cancer in the summer of 2006 she searched libraries and bookstores for books on cancer and the caregiving experience. What she discovered was a plethora of technical and medically-oriented books or those written by a caregiver whose loved one had died, a scenario she refused to contemplate. While serving as David’s companion during Wednesday chemotherapy treatments, Mary began journaling about their experience as a couple and parents of young children as they navigated the labyrinth of cancer. It soon dawned on her that she was writing the very book she had searched for upon David’s diagnosis: one that goes beyond the cancer experience to give hope and inspiration to the reader. Chemo-Therapist: How Cancer Cured a Marriage is a moving testimonial of a relationship renewed by the shared experience of a life threatening illness." Initially, after David’s diagnosis, I would cringe when I read books or articles by cancer survivors who stated that cancer had been a gift in their lives. How could all that David endured be viewed as a gift? The invasive surgery, the weeks of chemotherapy and radiation: a gift? Yet, after the cancer, David would often reach for my hand and say, “If it is cancer that is responsible for our new relationship, then it was all worth it.” And I’d reluctantly agree that cancer had been a gift in our lives. We’d both seen the other alternative: patients and survivors who had become bitter and angry, and neither one of us wanted to become that."
At 167 pages, this book was a quick read for me - less than 24 hours. I didn't want to put it down! I definitely could've read it in one sitting if I didn't have kids and housework to do! Mary's writing style is easy and heartfelt, blog post style. It feels like you're sitting across the table from her with a cup of coffee while she shares with you. I was touched by Mary and David's story, from their cozy college days with newborns to their large, 8 child homeschooling family. I can relate a lot to Mary. I have four children (which is by no means as large as Mary's family, but still "large" to society in general), homeschooled for several years, breastfed all my children, and did/do a lot of natural-type parenting as well. I'm also an avid reader, obsessed with books, and a couponer! I know well how lots of little children can affect a marriage - we're still in the thick of it, with our children ranging from 4-12 years old. I'm glad I read this book now, because Mary's insight from an older age is something I'm glad to read now, at a younger age. I hope that I'm able to apply these lessons to my marriage now rather than waiting till it might be too late. Thank you, Mary, for sharing your personal story and being willing to help others. I highly recommend this book to any Christian who is married. Everyone can benefit from this story, even if you're not dealing with cancer or another serious illness.
I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.