“Making it Through Chemotherapy” is a thin, 33-page booklet, yet it’s worth reading for two reasons. First, it tackles the important topic of cancer chemotherapy. Second, it’s written from the perspective of a young woman who was present for her mother’s chemo. Author Jackie Schuld not only walks the reader through what to expect of chemotherapy but also answers an important question, “What can I do for someone who’s going through treatment?” She guides the reader through chemotherapy, writing about the fear and uncertainty she and her mom experienced. It’s a book full of a daughter’s heart.
Jackie submitted “Making It Through Chemotherapy” to SevenPonds along with a generous personal note and some color sketches — just one example of how she gives her time to everything in life. We already knew of Jackie’s work after reviewing her wonderfully illustrated book about grief and loss, “Grief is a Mess.” Jackie once again uses colorful drawings of all sorts of animals to bring a bit of levity to a difficult topic. The element of humor makes the harsh realities of chemotherapy easier to accept.
Each page of the book includes an illustration of an animal with some fun (and brief) word play. Jackie begins the book by addressing the tough and confusing decision about whether to have chemotherapy at all with the words “A decision must be made.” Then she shows us the impact chemotherapy has on a person’s life, writing, “Every day is a bonus.” She also shows us how difficult it is for others to watch a loved one’s suffering when, on page 18, she depicts an ostrich with its head in the sand saying, “It’s too painful to see her go through this.” (Jackie is writing about her own experience of watching her mom go through the process.) At the end she shows a group of cheering animals tossing confetti with “congrats” celebrating the chemo is finally over. In this small book the reader experiences the tough questions and the difficult moments; learns about the process and gathers some insight on how to help someone who is going through chemotherapy.
Sadly, Jackie’s mother, Ruth, died of ovarian cancer in 2013. Jackie devotes two pages at the end of the book in her memory.
“Making It Though Chemotherapy” is a small, inexpensive book, but it would make a wonderful gift for someone who is just starting chemo, perhaps along with a gift like a scarf, a hat or a bunch of flowers. It would also be a helpful token for someone who will be at the side of a friend or family member undergoing chemo. We wholeheartedly recommend it for anyone who is navigating the cancer journey, whether as a patient or as emotional support.