It turns out that Elizabeth Berg and I have a few things in common. She was a nurse in her real life. I was a doctor in mine. So we both know quite a bit about breast cancer, which is what this story is about.
But, do you really know all there is to know about hot fudge? Can you extol the virtues of sheets that have line-dried outdoors in the wind? Would you be able to sit at her bedside while your BFF confronted her own mortality? No? Then you should study...not just read...but study this book...
What Elizabeth Berg did in this book was to capture the feel and look and taste of friendship among women who stick by a friend who is dying.
She uncovered humor there. She unmasked grief. She gave them courage. She helped them surrender graciously to the inevitable...all without quoting a statistic, without reviewing an X-ray or a biopsy report, without explaining treatment options, or obtaining a second opinion.
It was this that inspired me to write as a physician: the desire to translate what I know about medicine and what I know about life into a story that shares not only knowledge, but wisdom.
Patients, their families and friends, indeed doctors themselves, can learn alot from a novel like this. It made me "ooh" and "ahh" and ache as I read it. It didn't feel like fiction at all!
L.D. meets me at Ruth's door. "Did you bring it?" she asks.
I hold up the gigantic container.
"Wow. I didn't know you buy that much."
"You can now."
More about this tomorrow...