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Synopsis

This book tells the story of what really happens when battling a very serious disease, in this case leukemia. It tells about the human reaction of the author and his wife when told by an oncologist, “Mr. Rennie, you have prolymphocytic leukemia,” and then being told on a cancer telephone hot-line that you may have only three months to live. It translates, in human, detailed, non-medical terms, such things as the hours spent in leather recliners receiving IVs of chemotherapy and other drugs too numerous to count, getting stuck with needles ten times to find a vein, sometimes confounding interactions with doctors, nurses, and insurance companies, and nearly shaking to death one morning in the leather recliner. It also tells some funny stories like “Miss Blabbermouth” in the surgeon’s waiting room, and the time the author “mooned” an oncologist. It also exposes the hopefully outdated “poor bastard with cancer” syndrome. Finally, it totals up some interesting things such as number of needle sticks, hours in an IV chair, CT and PET scans, bone marrow extractions, and the amount of money that the disease has cost so far—billed versus paid. It is also a legacy book in that it tells many of the unforgettable lessons learned while growing up in a blue-collar, sports-minded neighborhood in the guts of Philadelphia. It tells about a dad with two very separate and distinct personalities, one a very bad “drunk dad” and one an outstanding “good dad,” and a perfect mother loving to the very end. It outlines the author’s two older brothers and two younger sisters and their important roles in the family, a strong one to this day, all of whom volunteered to be stem-cell donors. It describes the author’s wife’s warmth, understanding and stoic battle alongside of her husband. Above all, this is a “good news” book, one which is intended to inform as well as bring a few knowledgeable smiles to those who have been through similar experiences, and even bigger smiles to those who haven’t.

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