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As a university professor, an environmentalist, and a world-traveller, Sue Hendler was thriving. Then she was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. She had to give up her job, make hard decisions about medical treatment, and drastically shorten her vision of the future. As her cancer spread, she ironically acquired a new identity as a cancer “survivor.” Compelled to find meaning in her “new normal” of life with a fatal disease, she decided to write for a wider audience.

In Dying in Public: Living with Metastatic Breast Cancer, Hendler talks about her experiences of undergoing surgery, taking steroids, receiving chemotherapy, and enrolling in a clinical drug trial. As her condition worsens she remains committed to living fully. She struggles with writing a bucket list, discusses her “legacy,” and talks about her feelings of anger and the importance of love. She also describes how she lived, towards the end, with the support of the members of her “Care Team,” a group of over thirty friends, family, and health care workers who enabled her to remain at home until the day before her death.

This honest, witty, and unsentimental depiction of “dying in public” is a profound tribute to a life well lived.

About the Author

Sue Hendler was a writer and a Professor of Urban and Regional Planning at Queen’s University, Kingston.

Christine Overall is a writer and a Professor of Philosophy at Queen’s University, Kingston.

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