Blindsided: a Book You Should Read

Blindsided: a Book You Should Read

Blindsided a book you should read.

A few months ago I received an email from a gal named Arlene Blix. I didn’t know her, she didn’t know me. She told me she had written a book chronicling her husband’s battle with terminal cancer and she wanted to send it to me. I hesitated initially, I’m exclusively a fiction reader, non-fiction is not my cup of tea. I also didn’t want to send an empty promise to read it if I didn’t intend to. But I thought about it, decided I should and she sent me the book.

Blindsided: Not only is this the title of the book, it is exactly how I felt after reading just the first chapter. I picked the book up on Saturday, skipped church on Sunday to read it in a Starbucks (if you happened to be out in Long Beach & saw a girl crying over her coffee & a book, it was me), and finished it that night. It captured my attention for several reasons; it is extremely well written, it is bravely honest but not over-dramatic. It is relatable, rational, wise and beautifully told.

After a beautiful and charming love story and 13 years of a happy & vibrant marriage, Arlene’s husband Glen was diagnosed with colon cancer – a terrible type of cancer that comes with very little hope. But they did hope, against all odds, with every treatment and every ray of light they found hope. I cheered with them and cried for them with each up-and-down – hoping all the time a cure would come even though I knew the way it would end.

After watching my grandpa die of cancer 5 1/2 years ago I could easily picture parts of Arlene’s situation; a hospital bed coming into their home for Glen to sleep in, the IV’s, the delirium, the pain, horror and the sinking feeling of loss.

A big part of Glen and Arlene’s story was the fact that they were both Healthcare Professionals who had dedicated their lives to preventative healthcare and education – their shared passions. Glen’s diagnosis blindsided them. Glen was a vegetarian and had taken good care of himself, it didn’t make sense. But it happened.

Arlene & Glen’s story is incredible. I learned so much about not only about the grief process, but the dying process as well. Arlene offers a deep & emotionally rich window into the horrible reality that she and Glen, along with too many other families, had to face.

What I loved most about the book was the way Arlene discussed her relationship with Glen. What wonderful people! The way their relationship grows and changes, the way they support each other and the ways they say good-bye are . . . precious.

In fact, reading this book was a precious experience. I am so honored to have had Arlene reach out to me and share their story. I’m sharing it with you now because of the perspective it gave me on pain, loss, grief, cancer and survival.

So many families have felt the devastating results of cancer, my dad survived  it when I was just two years old, and my grandpa lost his second battle against it when I was 21. If cancer has ever touched your life get your hands on this book. It is such a special thing to know you aren’t alone, that others have walked this frightening road, and there is community even in the loneliest of situations.

One of the things that stood out to me from Blindsided was a moment toward the end where Arlene commented on how she used to teach that people could “get over” their grief. She doesn’t teach that anymore, she says, “The reality for me is that I may never “get over it” (146). What a powerful thing to realize. In some ways this could feel constraining but as I thought about my sorrow for my grandpa it gave me a great sense of relief. It’s ok that I still miss him, that I’m not completely “over it,” and that I don’t need to be. Such wisdom.

Arlene reflects continually on families who receive a prognosis like Glen’s without the information and resources they both had as professionals and experts. Arlene was able to research and recommend alternative medications that helped Glen when other suggestions had failed. She knew a lot about the “system,” the cancer, and where to turn. She wrote this book with the hope that it would be a place for people to turn. In the wake of Glen’s death she searched for books on how to “cope” and found nothing but false formulas and unrealistic expectations. Her book is an answer to that void and an incredible guide to anyone who has been or is going through the trauma of dying.

I encourage you to pick up a copy of Arlene’s book, you can purchase it here and you won’t be able to put it down.

To learn more about the Blix’s there is a video about Glen’s life featuring an interview with Arlene. It’s a great video that will give you some insight into the sweet & sad pages of her book. You can watch it by clicking here.

What is your story with cancer? What books have helped you through the grief process? Please, be as valiant as Arlene and share your story with us below, we’d be honored to share life with you.

Molly Keating
Molly Keating
Hello! I'm Molly and I run & manage the Blog here at O'Connor. I grew up in a mortuary with a mortician for a father who's deep respect for the profession inspired me to give working at a mortuary a try. Work at O'Connor has brought together two of my deep passions, writing & grief awareness. In 2016 I earned Certification in the field of Thanatology, the study of Death, Dying and Bereavement. I am honored to be able to speak on these taboo topics with knowledge, compassion, and a unique perspective. I want to sincerely thank you for following & reading the blog, I hope that this is a healing place for you.

20 Comments

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  2. Neil O’Connor says:

    Hi Molly – This is a great topic most everyone can relate to, cancer has effected most people . I have had friends and family die and survive cancer. It makes me wonder why cancer is so common and there is not a consistent cure for it, yet we can send people to the moon and back. Somethings in life make no sense.

    • MollyKeating says:

      So true. We all know life isn’t fair but it should never be this unfair. But instead of rationalizing or creating reasons I think your response is the most honest & clear: Cancer will never make sense because things that horrible can’t & shouldn’t be forced to. Thanks for reading, Neil!

  3. Shayna Mallik says:

    Molly,
    Wow what a story to read. Great recommendation I will definitely look into it. Cancer hits most families hard and I thank you for this blog. Great read!

    • MollyKeating says:

      Thank you Shayna! I think it’s so healthy for us to be able to empathize and understand the pain other people go through. Not that we should steep ourselves in it but having some perspective and insight into the toll that cancer takes can be invaluable as we meet & interact with others. Thanks for reading!

  4. Amy says:

    Molly,
    What an amazing woman to be able to put her real life situation on paper for others to experience. I had the privilege of caring for my ex-husband’s mother during her fight with cancer down to her last days. I have to say it was the best thing I ever did. I really got to know the woman she was. I heard lots of stories and even just sat in silence. As hard as it was to watch her die I am truly blessed to have had the experience.
    I am going to go get the book and read it. It will be interesting to see if there are things that we might have in common.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Amy

    • MollyKeating says:

      Amy, you know this book. I love that you can say that helping your mother-in-law through dying was a blessing despite the pain of it. I think that about my grandpa, too. It was incredible to sit there and be with him. I knew I was doing something important, valuable and life changing and I don’t regret a second of the time I spent with him.
      Thank you for reading this & sharing your story. I hope you pick up the book & find more blessing inside!

  5. Kori Marie Kolstad says:

    Good job Molly…you certainly inspired me to read this book..and I too am not keen on the non-fiction stuff. Beautifully done.
    Love, Kori

    • MollyKeating says:

      Thank you so much Kori! It’s always worth trying something new & I’m confident that if you gave this a shot it would be really rewarding! Thanks for reading!

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