Author: Teresa J. Rhyne
Publisher: Sourcebooks Inc.
ISBN: 978-1-4022-7172-4

                                         Navigating away Cancer

This is a heartwarming book.

The story starts with Teresa Rhyne, a San Diego attorney and ardent dog lover, returning home after a short vacation in Ireland. The reason for the above diversion was to recover from the trauma of a painful second divorce, which also coincided with the euthanization of both her two dogs. She had also recently met a man called Chris, whose company she liked, but was at a point in her life, when emotions like true love, seemed very superficial and unreal to her.

But Love has its own ways of entering our lives. The first to claim her attention and her heart was an ebullient, demanding and perpetually hungry beagle puppy who came serendipitiously into her life. She calls him Seamus. Pretty soon, after a rough start, Seamus and Chris take to each other, and it seems that life was settling down for the three of them. The relationships between them deepen as the human partners also meet both the parents of the opposite sex. This state of affairs was to change.

The first thing to happen was that Seamus’ groomer discovered a suspicious lump in his behind. This lump turns out to be malignant and Seamus is given a year to live. Surgery is scheduled with chemotherapy to follow. The latter turns out to have negative effects, but Teresa and Chris handle the situation together and emerge from the ordeal with a strong sense of togetherness, despite an expenditure of several thousand dollars. This closes the first part of the book.

A year later, Teresa finds a lump in her breast and is also advised surgery with chemotherapy and radiation treatment to follow. After learning of her diagnosis, Teresa sensed a knowing that the pattern of her malignancy, would not be substantially different from that of Seamus and that she would recover in toto, despite the doctors’ more pessimistic prognoses. The rest of the book details how they went through the ordeal together while Seamus kept their spirits up with his boisterous antics.

However, this book is not just an account of a difficult situation that is navigated with blood, tears and sweat. It is a story that is also bedecked with a great deal of wry humour, in addition to a detailed and honest self enquiry. One gets to see both sides of Teresa and Chris, their frailties as well as their strengths and ends with deep respect for their integrity in the face of dire challenges.

Idiosyncracies of practitioners of the medical profession (both for humans and animals) are also highlighted in this book. Teresa is clear about the kind of doctor (veterinarian) she wants for herself and her pet, she strongly rejects medicos who regard their patients as pieces of machinery without feelings. There are also a few episodes about how Teresa makes her peace with Chris’ family despite initial apprehensions of communicating with a mother-in-law.

For me, this book is a testimony of Love and Life, of how seemingly unrelated incidents can lead to total transformation of lives over time. As mentioned earlier on in this review, this is a warm, feel good book that will make us wonder at Life’s inscrutable ways of working.

Warmly recommended.


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