As a medical oncologist specializing in gastrointestinal cancers, John Marshall was outspoken in his resentment and envy of the dominance of breast cancer advocacy and research. But then his wife, Liza, was diagnosed at age 43 with a high-risk breast cancer, whose survival rate at the time was a dismal 50% percent.
In Off Our Chests, Liza vividly details her treatment, her feelings of desperation and vulnerability, the complex decisions she had to make from mastectomy to chemotherapy and radiation, and finally the elective removal of her other breast—all experienced in the sometimes uncomfortably public setting of being treated at her husband’s cancer center. John’s experience as a caregiver forces him to rethink everything he has learned and teaches as a leader in cancer care. No longer able to maintain complete objectivity with his own patients, he ultimately exhausts himself trying to provide ideal cancer care for all.
At once deeply personal, wry, and insightful, Off Our Chests is a book not just about cancer, but about medicine, healing, and a marriage.