Review: Life with Cancer
There are some people that write stories that are just superficial and deal with facts and figures. There are some that write stories and give the public what they think they want to hear and know.
But, rarely do you find a reporter that delves deep within the soul of a situation and digs so deep and so far that the reader understands the inner most thoughts of not only the reporter but of those he/she is writing about. There are many stories that fledgling reporters get and try to create good stories about. But, sometimes those stories are stark, cold and just stories. From the moment she was born and could write a simple story Lauren Terrazzano could find the inner core of what a story should be.
But, let’s start at the beginning or you might the say the end as Frank Terrazzano her father and Paul Lonardo takes us on a long journey back to where it all began and who she learned that she had to live her life with cancer and still go on. A special day to be remembered was her birthday March 28 and her father wanted to share with readers his special celebration of her life. As he goes to a special beach and flies a special kite that has not only her picture on it but so much more. Lauren: In Life Reached the Stars written at the top of the kite and Lauren: Love: Miss you very much. A father’s voice is heard and Lauren leaves her more than just her legacy as a reporter with everyone she leaves her love of life, her love of family and her love of reporting.
Lauren had many close friends growing up and many throughout her life that both authors share with the reader. Katy from an early age was her best friend and encouraged her to speak out and be heard. Many times she would shy away from events and with the friend’s encouragement she would soar. From the moment she wrote her first story as a child and created her own newspaper in her school, Lauren’s special journalistic qualities far surpassed most. Her first column and article picked up by Newsday dealt with the causes of abuses of children, the neglect by parents and the system when children were forced to go to court with their parents, unfed, poorly cared for and some just forgotten. Learning about the elderly, writing about those in homes and in facilities that neglected their patients and left them to wander on their own, Lauren made her mark and championed many causes.
So, what happens when she learns her fate and how does she deal with it? With hope, fear, love and support of so many but cancer knows no boundaries and has no limits in its devastation and reprieves are few and last only a short time. Leah, Ritchie and Lauren were friends growing up and went to school together. Leah was a lifelong friend and Lauren came to her defense when she was being bullied. Deciding to share her voice with the world she created a weekly column titled Life With Cancer sharing the entire experience with her readers and endearing her to the public even more. Lauren not only wanted to be the voice of those who could not speak for themselves but she wrote about issues dealing with individual families, people and global issues. How often can a reporter get the government and the public to change their viewpoints and take action? Lauren had a way of enlisting the trust and faith of those she interviewed and would never betray it. With people she was sensitive and caring with her editors she was tough and aggressive. She loved the world of journalism and just hearing her voice and reading about her tenacity to get a story you can feel the energy that radiated in her whole body when looking to find the story that most would ignore. From the time she fell in love with a dog that was quite sick, to other stray animals she felt the need to care for you learn from the onset that she loved to help others.
Lauren was someone you wanted as your friend. She was loyal, caring and her friendships were lifelong. There were many that the authors share and so many that were with her when she passed. Learn as you read this memoir of her life about Jessica, Leah, Monica, Brian and many other reporters at Newsday and Robin Reisig her instructor at Columbia that not only taught her the essence of reporting but worked together with her on many stories too. Imagine being asked to become the editor of the Bronx Beat the school paper. Although she really did not want to do it she did it for Robin and brilliantly. The story that captured the hearts of many was one that focused on an apartment building with riddled with dirt, unsafe and signs that said Lead Poisoning. Imagine learning that the landlord did nothing to fix the problem and the building run by the Housing Authority went unnoticed. Lauren would not let it pass and she wrote about it. Added in her amazing changes and reforms at the Bronx Beat you know from the beginning she would make more than just a slight mark in this field. Each story she wrote was filled with her own brand of journalism and passion. So, how did a non-smoker get lung cancer?
This question that might never be answered. Lauren had many mentors, friends and family but one man made a difference for a while in her life and that was Peter. He was perfect for her and then one incident; one tragedy would change it all. TWA Flight 800 left her breathless, on edge and changed. The interviews with the family members and those involved in dealing with the crash left an indelible mark on her. Lauren became more serious, more intense and more focused on her job, the story than her marriage. It was as if the story, the paper and her need to find the truth and write about it took over her life like the cancer, which riddled her body and decided her fate. Life, with Cancer, was her weekly column and she shared her daily thoughts with readers about living with the inevitable. Added in she alerts the public about the underlying dangers of smoking, the need for more funding for research for lung cancer and the many chapters the authors devoted to her quest to find out why this illness targets women, dealing with Camel and hoping that someday women and people would think twice before lighting up.
Cancer is deadly and it knows no bounds, has no boundaries and is merciless and relentless in its quest to take lives. Frank Terrazzano and Paul Lonardo wrote this thought provoking, compelling and true story of one woman’s life to open the eyes of everyone to this deadly disease and share the world of someone so special that touched so many lives. Lung cancer kills more women every year than any other cancer. With a forward written by Pulitzer Prize winning author Anna Quindlen you learn about what drove Lauren, the articles she wrote about dealing with meds, the indignities many faces and the doctors who passed the final sentence of verdict on her: 2-3 months to live. How do you deal with that?
The voices of her friends are shared and heard, her co-workers, the doctors and even her college professors. But, her life is like an unfinished painting, picture or portrait that never found its final strokes, final place on the wall as her life ended too fast. The power of words is amazing and as her father states: she used her words, her pen her typewriter her computer to light up the world with her thoughts and her words. Throughout the memoir the authors share her early life, her schooling, her rise to becoming a great journalist and much more. The final three years dealt with her treatment, her illness and her final moments. Added in we learn about her mother’s illness, the fact that Lauren did not always share her results or grief with her parents in order to shelter them for a while. After you read this brilliantly written memoir you will understand the journey and the struggle that many go through, understand the need for funding, and hopefully doctors, nurses and health care providers will come to grips with the fact that we need more money for research and hopefully understand the seriousness of lung cancer.
As you read the blog and hear her voice you smile, you cry and you laugh at her humor, feel the pain and the anger coming through and the frustration at knowing that she could only fight so much and not more. What endeared me to her even more is her blog thanking those that take care of so many: Let’s not forget the caregivers. The doctors that took care of her at Memorial Sloan Kettering and at St. Luke’s Roosevelt will remain in the hearts of her family and friends as they did everything that could possibly be done to save Lauren. Readers all over the world wanted to read her blog and learn her progress. Added in we meet a man named Al who played a short role in her life, a special co-worker named Brian and a father who never gave up, was at her side along with her mother, Ginny and whose faith in as he refers to her: My Lauren will live on forever.
I want to thank Paul for asking me to read and review this book and want everyone to listen to my interview with both authors on November 1, 2012 at four eastern on the World Of Ink: This is one memoir everyone needs to read.