This is the book that I wish I had written. In fact, many of my friends and family did tell me that I should write it, but I was too slow, and Caitlin Brodnick did an amazing job of it instead.
Ms. Brodnick learned at age 21 that she was BRCA positive. At age 28 she opted for prophylactic bilateral mastectomies, as a result of her family history. Ms. Brodnick spent some years engaging in self-destructive behavior in a effort to ignore her diagnosis. She did eventually come to terms with it, and decided to document her journey on film in order to help other women going through the same. Then she wrote her book, where she documented in even more detail her decision making and experience. Since Ms. Brodnick is a comic by profession, she tackled all of it with honesty and humor. Her experiences were so well documented, that I felt like I was re-living my own experiences. But not in a bad way.
Every woman who is diagnosed as BRCA positive, or with breast cancer, and who is considering a mastectomy should read this book. Every spouse or partner or friend or family member who wants to support a woman considering a mastectomy should read this book. By adding humor, Ms. Brodnick takes away some of the scary and unknown elements to this difficult decision and very invasive surgery.
But reader beware! This is dark humor. It takes a certain kind of person to appreciate Ms. Brodnick’s open and honest approach to a very complicated and fraught subject. I read this book more than a year after my procedure, so was reading it with the benefit of hindsight. While it brought back all of the memories and feelings, the book was so funny that I was able to work past re-living the fear and just appreciate the absurdity of the journey through breast-cancer-land. However, for many of the same reasons, this book may terrify some women who have not yet had the procedure.
Nonetheless, I think this book was fantastic. While I do not claim to be able to do comedy professionally, (I will leave that to Ms. Brodnick), I did seem to have a similar attitude, finding humor throughout it all. Like Ms. Brodnick, my goal was to make my plastic surgeon laugh. For me, there was simply no other option than to be able to laugh at the situation, and through her book Ms. Brodnick reminded me of a time and situation where humor was indeed the best medicine.