Saturday, August 19, 2006

Cancer Did Not Make Miriam a Shallower Person

I've written about my erstwhile competitor Miriam Engelberg, author of Cancer Made Me a Shallower Person, a couple of times (for example, when we were profiled together in USA Today and when we were interviewed together on NPR). Miriam wrote a cartoon collection ("graphic novel," whatever) about her experience fighting breast cancer that came out a month after Mom's Cancer.

Frankly, I don't think my publisher and I were overjoyed to find unexpected competition in the "cancer comics" market. My petty, pouty, envious attitude changed as I read Miriam's book, corresponded with her, and spent a little time with her in person. I thought her work was genuinely honest and insightful, darkly funny, and I liked her a lot. It also became clear to both Miriam and me that we got more press attention together than either of us would have alone. As I once wrote, it was like being in an arranged marriage neither of us volunteered for, but we were good together.

You may suspect where I'm going with this. A couple of days ago Miriam told her mailing list and blog readers that new tests have found cancer growing in her brain. I don't think the news was a surprise; Miriam has now entered a home hospice program. For readers not sure what that means (and I do get an occasional e-mail asking, "my father just went into hospice, when do you think he'll get better?"), hospice is about pain management, familiar surroundings, comfort and dignity. It's not about treatment, although if a miracle happens I don't think anybody objects.

I'm sad for my friend Miriam, her husband and her son. Although I hope everyone buys a copy of my book if you haven't already, I wouldn't mind terribly if you bought Miriam's as well ( even makes it easy to buy both at the same time). It would be for the best cause I can think of.


Kid Sis said...

I'm so sorry.

ronnie said...

Thank you for letting us know.
That's pretty much all I can manage to say right now.