Spare Me Your Envy:
Stroke, Cancer, Divorce & Suicide
If it’s possible to break new ground in the highly populated non-celebrity memoir genre, I’d like to believe that I’ve done so. My book captures four major life setbacks, any one of which might be considered your worst nightmare. I admit, there’s undoubtedly a voyeuristic quality to all of it. The buy-in for readers is to witness the riveting struggle and to see how circumstances become surprisingly and satisfyingly resolved.
SPARE ME YOUR ENVY: Stroke, Cancer, Divorce & Suicide details a life involving paralysis at age 10 (stroke), breast cancer at age 45 (double mastectomy), divorce (after 25 years and two sons) and violent suicide (horrifying, heartbreaking, haunting, my son was 23). All this occurs by age 51.
The reader is taken on a journey that relies heavily on dramatic storytelling (think Educated or Hillbilly Elegy or My Stroke of Insight) and not on didactic narrative. While it gives evidence of the elasticity of the human spirit, it also delivers a message contrary to what many might assume. It conveys the power of surrendering, rather than invoking the posture and battle cry of the warrior. I expose the reality that many people are not weak, but they can be fragile. And sometimes they do break. But mending is not a miracle, it’s an incremental and intentional process.
I explore with full transparency the physical, emotional and psychological challenges I’ve faced, territory that’s not the exclusive domain of misery but of victory as well. However, plenty of experiences are spiked by embarrassment and layered with endless adjustments.
I bring more than 25 years of writing experience to this work, with bylines appearing in newspapers, magazines, blogs and websites. I have a TED Talk addressing the stroke portion of my story. I work as the host/director/producer of the podcast THE DRAMA OF DIAGNOSIS, a show featuring illnesses experienced by celebrities, with medical experts discussing the symptoms, treatment and prognosis surrounding those maladies (DramaOfDiagnosis.com, also available on all major podcast platforms).
In my daily life and in this book, I push against assumptions and defy expectations, given my onerous set of circumstances. I’m an example of what’s possible when many things go wrong, and my book reveals what that triumphant journey looks like.