The Bottom Line
- Enthusiastic and encouraging words from a survivor
- Funny, wise, compassionate
- Good conversations about facing death
- Broad appeal for many faiths
- Sometimes the author's enthusiasm exceeds her grammar
- Articulate use of expletives may offend some readers
- Author: Debra Jarvis
- Publisher: Sasquatch Books
- ISBN-10: 1570615365
- Copyright 2007
- List Price: $23.95
- Book Details: 256 pages, 10 chapters, in hardback.
Guide Review - It's Not About the Hair: And Other Certainties of Life and Cancer
As a hospital oncology chaplain, Ms. Jarvis visited patients with all kinds and stages of cancer, taking the full range of treatments. Her patients were as diverse as their diagnoses, but all of them faced the problems of how to deal with cancer, life, and death. She listens to all of them with compassion and coaches them to speak openly about their concerns, listening without judgment, but with great love. Ms. Jarvis goes beyond the ordinary "one size fits all" type of prayer, using words from the Judeo-Christian tradition, and including Buddhism, Zen, and whatever else works to bless her patients. Her ecumenical cocktail mix of prayers and attitudes, and some of her vocabulary may offend conservative Christians.
Debra Jarvis was diagnosed with breast cancer and chose to be treated, and continue working at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. "It's Not About the Hair" is not just her story, but also a full picture of the cancer patients and the oncology staff, working together to treat bodies, minds, hearts, and spirits. Her book gives a picture of oncology from both sides of the exam table – health professional and patient. You may need to wipe your tears several times while reading this book, as she makes you laugh at her irreverence, and cry with her compassion. No where else will you read that she wants "Heaven to be like a Versed/Fentanyl IV drip where you awaken and forget all your bad experiences on earth."
Debra is very close to her husband, Wes, a research scientist/physician. Wes was very supportive during Debra's treatment and recovery, and it is a testament to their bond that the author dedicates the book to "Wes, my one and only."