I realize that I am being charged with this mission. I will have to take control, because I am his wife now. … Anthony wants nothing to do with any of it … We silently agree that he will have the cancer and I will take care of it.
In her memoir What Remains, Carole Radziwill chronicles her brief marriage to Anthony Radziwill as well as the devastating loss of Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy. Radziwill was born into a working class family; she moved to New York to jump-start her career in journalism and ended up marrying a prince.
Unfortunately, Carole and Anthony don’t get their happy ending. Carole discovers a lump on her then-boyfriend Anthony’s stomach and gets concerned, despite having had cancer before Anthony puts off going to the doctor for a while. In 1994, Anthony finally sees a doctor who diagnoses him with a hematoma and schedules him for surgery where doctors discover the lump is actually a high-grade fibrosarcoma. The next five years are a series of hospitals, tests and surgeries; Anthony is able to get into an exclusive research hospital in Washington for the duration of his disease but cancer doesn’t care if you are a Polish prince and his condition continues to deteriorate. Throughout this difficult time Carole finds a light in Carolyn Bissette, the girlfriend of Anthony’s cousin John Kennedy, who becomes Carole’s confidante. Carolyn does her best to make sure Carole is taking care of herself and not just Anthony while Carole becomes one of the few people Carolyn can still be herself around after she becomes Mrs Kennedy. The foursome are very close during this time (Anthony hasn’t confided in many about his illness). Tragically, John and Carolyn’s plane crashes outside of Martha’s Vineyard just a few weeks prior to Anthony’s death.
Radziwill also had a fulfilling career as an Emmy award winning producer for ABC News. She shares details about her early years and infatuation with journalism, in fact it’s through her career that she meets Anthony. She continues to work throughout her early marriage and while the focus of the later half of her memoir is Anthony she does share a bit more about her work. Fun fact- Diane Sawyer was such a good friend to Radziwills that she was a fixture at many of the medical discussions they had in the later years of Antony’s battle with cancer.
What Remains is a love letter to both Anthony and Carolyn and the brief period of time that Carole was both her happiest and saddest.