And so here I am, a “normal,” healthy, fifteen year old girl, with an incredible story behind her two brown eyes. I’ve had forty-eight doses and sixteen days of chemo, well over fifty tests, a trip to the ER, two doses of morphine, three drug reactions, forty-one shots, over one hundred fifty needle pokes, fourteen days of radiation, an eating disorder, a mass the size of a softball, a PICC line, a port, two biopsies, a bone marrow aspiration, total hair loss, nine months of intense therapy, and so many doctor appointments that I lost count a year ago.
Now I have written a book. My dance bag is slung around my shoulder, right at this instant, and I am getting ready to dance my soul out for two straight hours…I can’t think of a better way to celebrate. My heart is filled with an indescribable feeling at this moment. It can only be described with one word…grace. – from the ARC of Grace, page 289 –
Melinda Marchiano was only thirteen years old when she was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma – a cancer of the immune system. What followed was four courses of chemotherapy, as well as fourteen days of radiation…a debilitating string of treatments which left Marchiano weak, ill, and emotionally and physically exhausted. Throughout her ordeal, she clung to the support of her family, friends and the medical professionals who led her through the medical maze of tests and treatments. She also relied on her quirky sense of humor, the therapy dogs who snuggled with her in her hospital bed (as well as her own dog Larry who instinctively knew when she needed him the most), and her growing faith in God. In Grace: A Child’s Intimate Journey Through Cancer and Recovery, Marchiano takes the reader on an emotional roller coaster of what it is like to confront childhood cancer and win.
Yes, cancer is a roller coaster, and it seems that when you’re not at the highest or the lowest point, you’re in rapid transit either up or down. – from the ARC of Grace, page 281 –
Marchiano’s story is not an easy one to read. It is difficult to hear her pain and fear. It is mind-numbing to think of the aggressive chemotherapy which made her sicker before it made her better. Despite this, Marchiano treats her readers to the silver linings beneath the dark clouds.
Cancer is battle after battle, struggle after struggle. And then, something beautiful happens that keeps you going. – from the ARC of Grace, page 124 –
Melinda Marchiano is not just a cancer survivor – she is also a gifted dancer who found dance to be a motivator through the dark days of illness…the light at the end of the tunnel. There were dark days of depression, the spiral into an eating disorder, and the struggle to find joy again…but through it all was Marchiano’s love of dance.
Grace is a memoir from the heart of a young girl. Melinda Marchiano’s voice jumps off the page with its honesty. I never forgot I was reading the words of a teenager who showed remarkable courage and determination in her fight against cancer. Marchiano spares the reader nothing, and because of this, I must caution readers who might be just starting their own journey through cancer. I think this is a book which can provide hope to others, but may be hard to read for those who have not reached the other side of their cancer treatment. The words and emotions are scary. And so, for some, this might be a memoir which would best be read in retrospective…after they’ve traveled their own road through cancer.
The writing in Grace is sometimes uneven (although it should be noted I read an Advance Readers Edition, not a finished copy)…it is very much the voice of its author. Despite this, there were moments of enlightenment and brilliance; times when I paused in my reading and marveled at the maturity of this fourteen-year old’s observations of the world.
Readers who wish to take Marchiano’s journey with her will be rewarded to a glimpse inside a young girl’s heart.
FTC Disclosure: This book was sent to me by the author for review on my blog.
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