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Bearing Witness

Living with Ovarian Cancer

Kathryn Carter

Publication Year: 2009

Bearing Witness is a collection of stories from women who went through the diagnosis of ovarian cancer, and treatment for it, only to find that the cancer recurred and any hope of recovery was gone. These women represent a spectrum of ages, ethnic backgrounds, marital circumstances, and professional experiences. From their stories we learn how each woman shapes the meaning of her life. Facing a life crisis can make one bitter and angry, but it can also provide the key to a thankful and generous spirit within.

Storytelling is an important art form present in many cultures: it is a way of processing life events, of searching for meaning, and of allowing teller and listener to wrestle with the message. It is a form of teaching and learning. For the women in Bearing Witness, stories are tangible legacies for family and friends and a chance to share their thoughts on living with the “glass half full.” They inspire the reader to reflect on life’s struggles and to find within themselves a sense of optimism, perhaps when they least expect to.

Kathryn Carter’s concluding essay places these stories in the context of contemporary discourses of illness and healing.

Published by: Wilfrid Laurier University Press

Series: Life Writing


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pp. v

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pp. vii

The authors would like to thank those who were instrumental in creating the manuscript and seeing it through to publication. Kathryn Carter and Geraldine Lavery interviewed the women whose stories make up this book, though Geraldine Lavery did most of the interviews. The names of the women we interviewed have been changed to protect their privacy. ...

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pp. 1-5

PERSONAL STORIES MAY BE EASIER to remember, as Rick Warren says above, but this does not mean they are always easy to hear or easy to read. What you are about to read is, I admit, difficult. It is a collection of stories that have been created from interviews with women living with recurrent ovarian cancer. The goal of this project was to create a book, ...

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pp. 7-9

MY LIFE HAS BEEN EVENTFUL AND I have been very fortunate. I was born in Hungary and still quite young when Nazis invaded my hometown. My family and I were sent to Auschwitz. I was 14 at the time; I was young and strong. I had the job of carting dead bodies away in a wheelbarrow. I lost most of my family, and when I managed to escape death, I ...

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pp. 11-16

I HAVE LIVED HERE ALL MY LIFE, in the same house for 42 years with my husband. We raised three daughters. Two of them are now married: one with four kids and one with two kids. This year I didn't have the energy for Christmas shopping, so I let them do their own. Last year we managed. You have to pace yourself. ...

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pp. 17-25

I HAVE ONE DAUGHTER, AND I would like her to know later on down the line when she picks up this book that it was me in this discussion. I am 45 and I will be 46 in September. I was diagnosed when I had just turned 40. So it's been a little over five years. ...

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pp. 27-31

MY JOURNEY WITH OVARIAN CANCER all started with what appeared to be just a problem with my legs and some breathing problems. They thought I had asthma. My family doctor sent me down to the hospital to get an asthma treatment, and when I got down there, they discovered that I had fluid around my left lung and that caused a cough. They drained ...

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pp. 33-39

I WAS ILL FOR FOUR MONTHS before I was diagnosed. I think maybe that something should have been picked up at that time. I worked at the hospital in the nursery and I was off of work with a really high temperature, like 39 to 40 degrees, and I knew that it wasn't right. I had a rash all over my body, pinpoint red, from the neck down. The rash was very ...

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pp. 41-45

MY STORY STARTED IN THE LATE summer, early fall, when I had what I thought were a lot of bladder infections, but the tests kept coming back that it wasn't that. So they did an ultrasound and sent me to a urologist. He said that everything looked fine, that I had fibroids, but people live with those for years. He said that I had freckles on my kidneys, "but don't let ...

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pp. 47-54

I'M 42 YEARS OLD, BORN AND raised in moderate-sized city. My parents are both in this area, and they have been a wonderful support. I have one brother, who is younger than I am. There has been a bit of bowel and colon cancer in our family, but no ovarian cancer. My oldest daughter is 8 years old, and my other daughter is 6. ...

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pp. 55-59

I FIRST DISCOVERED SOMETHING wrong on a July 7 when I had a pain in my side. I waited a couple of weeks to see if it would go away, but it didn't. I went to my family doctor and he decided that it was probably a pulled muscle or something like that. So he sent me to a specialist who determined it was a pulled muscle, that I had pulled the muscle away from ...

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pp. 61-63

I WAS BORN IN EUROPE AND MOVED to Canada when I was a teenager. My husband is also from Europe. Last year we went home to Europe for three weeks. My daughter is in nursing. My son is married and lives with a three-year-old son. My husband and I love to babysit our grandson. ...

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pp. 65-71

I AM 65 YEARS OLD, AND I've been married for almost half a century to the same man. My husband and I are second cousins, because my father and his mother were first cousins. Our grandfathers were brothers. We have three girls between the ages of 36 and 41 years. I'm also a grandmother. I'll see the youngest one, who is four months old. ...

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pp. 73-79

I AM A NURSE, TRAINED AT a local college. After I graduated from nursing school I couldn't find a job, and I felt that God wanted me in something full time. I had also gone to Bible school in Ontario for four years and got a degree with a Bible major and missions minor. So when I heard about a mission hospital on the Amazon from another Canadian nurse ...

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Afterword: Metastasizing Plots: Telling and Un-Telling the Stories of Cancer

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pp. 81-85

I WON'T PRETEND THAT THIS was an easy assignment for an English professor who is used to stories, as we all are to some degree, that resolve in happy endings. I am accustomed to dealing with the written stories of others as just that--stories, usually committed to page, and demanding as much empathy as I am willing to give. Even though my scholarly training alerted me to another ...


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pp. 87-91

E-ISBN-13: 9781554581634
Print-ISBN-13: 9781554580552
Print-ISBN-10: 1554580552

Page Count: 102
Publication Year: 2009

Series Title: Life Writing