Caryn is a 42 year old woman with a husband and three children when she receives the dreaded news that she has breast cancer. Breast cancer ran in her family but she hadn’t really thought she would have to worry about it at this young age yet. Thus begins Caryn’s journey into the world of cancer treatment: doctors and more doctors, tests upon tests, chemo and all that involves and ultimately the toll that this disease takes on your body, both physically and emotionally.
I appreciated Caryn’s sense of humor throughout her story though. I got the feeling from reading her story that she looks upon life like this – enjoying what you have even if it’s not the best at the time. When she had to shave her hair off she tattooed her head instead of wigs or hats – just little things like that showing a resilience to keep going at the hardest moments. At times I couldn’t keep up with Caryn’s life though as she and her husband are fairly involved in many things which Caryn even tried to keep up after her cancer treatments. What she learned though that this disease makes you take a step back and realize that life is about more than running yourself ragged no matter how important the cause. You need to take time for yourself – to heal, to grow healthier and stronger.
Caryn also discovered that she carried the BRCA genetic mutation gene. What this means is that you have a much greater liklihood of getting breast cancer in addition to ovarian cancer. I’m very aware of the horror of hearing about this genetic mutation as it runs in my family as well. I myself have not been tested for it yet although have been urged to but I live in a state of denial and not wanting to know and not having to make the decisions that come with knowing you carry it. With Caryn having this genetic mutation the best thing to do is have your breasts removed along with the rest of your female organs. It’s a tough reality to be faced with yet I found Caryn did it with a lot of courage and determination.
One thing I really noticed and envied a great deal was the support system Caryn had and has. I mean there was her husband, family, her friends, even people she worked with who would come together to bring meals for her family, to be with her at the hospital and to come together in prayer. I’m sure this went a long way in helping her to heal as well, to know all these people cared about her and her well being.
Ultimately what I really admired was Caryn’s courage to fight the cancer and to keep going. At the end of her memoir she is six years cancer free and I pray she will continue that way. Stories of survival warm my heart as I’ve lost so many to this awful disease and it gives hope to those going through cancer themselves or those living with someone who is. Caryn mentions living with the fear of the cancer always returning and that is something I understand as well with my father having had cancer and lately having recurring bouts with skin cancer. It’s a deep seated fear inside that this disease will one day rear it’s ugly head again but in the meantime you have to get up and enjoy each day as it comes and this is exactly what I see Caryn doing – living her life now to the fullest. I think a memoir such as this is like a little shining light of hope for those going through cancer or those living with others enduring it.
I read The Sky Begins At Your Feet for Caryn’s blog tour so many thanks to Jodi from Women on Writing for inviting me to participate. Make sure to visit Caryn’s website and her blog as well for more tour dates. You can buy The Sky Begins At Your Feet here in the US and here in Canada.