Tuesday 28 April 2020

Book ~ "Dead Mom Walking: A Memoir of Miracle Cures and Other Disasters" (2020) Rachel Matlow

From Goodreads ~ When her mother is diagnosed with cancer, Rachel Matlow is concerned but hopeful. It's Stage 1 so her mom will get surgery and everything will go back to normal. But growing up in Rachel's family, there was no normal. Elaine, an alternative school teacher and self-help junkie, was never a capital M "Mommy" - she spent more time meditating than packing lunches - and Rachel, who played hockey with the boys and refused to ever wear a dress, was no ordinary daughter.

When Elaine decides to forgo conventional treatment and heal herself naturally, Rachel is forced to ponder whether the very things that made her mom so special - her independent spirit, her belief in being the author of her own story - are what will ultimately kill her. As the cancer progresses, so does Elaine's conviction in doing things her way. She assembles a dream team of alternative healers, gulps down herbal tinctures with every meal, and talks (with respect) to her cancer cells. Anxious and confused, Rachel is torn between indulging her pie-in-the-sky pursuits (ayahuasca and all) and pleading with the person who's taking her mother away.

With irreverence and honesty - and a little help from Elaine's journals and self-published dating guide, plus hours of conversations recorded in her dying days - Matlow brings her inimitable mother to life on the page. "Dead Mom Walking" is the hilarious and heartfelt story of what happens when two people who've always written their own script go head to head with each other, and with life's least forgiving plot device. 

Rachel Matlow is a former producer at CBC and her brother, Josh, is a Toronto City Councillor.  When their mother, Elaine, discovered she has stage 1 cancer, her doctor recommended she have surgery so she could live a long time.  Elaine said she wanted to think about it and research her options.  She decided to heal herself and surrounded herself with natural practitioners and what sounds like quacks.  She did affirmations and even tried to reason with the cancer.  As the cancer moved from stage 1 onward and got worse, Elaine still believed she could heal herself ... until it was too late and her cancer had become terminal and there was nothing that could be done.  She passed away in 2015, five years after the diagnosis.

Rachel didn't agree with Elaine's way of healing her cancer and begged her mother to have surgery.  But Elaine was stubborn and there were many times when Rachel had to back off so she wouldn't lose her relationship with her mother.  During this, Rachel was working with/for Jian Ghomeshi at CBC.  He didn't treat his colleagues well at all and she had the added pressure of dealing with the aftermath of his scandal.

Elaine wasn't the most conventional mother.  She was raised by a mother who smothered her and was dependent on her even when she was young and Elaine swore she would never do that to her kids.  She had adventures and tried to live life to the fullest.  While I give her props for wanting to cure her cancer her way, I thought it was a bit selfish that she didn't want to get well as soon as possible so she could be there for her family.  When I found out I had cancer in December, I had no hesitation when my surgeon told me she had booked a date a month later for surgery.  I want to live a long time and be around with my family and friends.

It was an interesting book but I found it a hard one to read at times, especially when the family realized that Elaine didn't have much time left and started making arrangements.

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