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.