Before I Say Goodbye: With Contibutions from Matt Seaton & Justine Picardie

 
9780140868609: Before I Say Goodbye: With Contibutions from Matt Seaton & Justine Picardie

When Ruth Picardie died from complications following the misdiagnosis of breast cancer in September 1997, leaving a young husband and two-year-old twins, 1000s mourned who'd never met her. Ruth's column in "The Observer" recorded the progress of her illness and her feelings about living with terminal cancer. This text brings together these pieces, Ruth's e-mail correspondance with friends, selected letters from readers, and accounts of Ruth's last days by her sister, Justine, and husband Matt.

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Review:

"Chemo was vile," writes editor and freelance writer Ruth Picardie in an e-mail. "Imagine four days of the worst hangover combined with the worst flu, where you can hardly move, feel poisoned, and are half-asleep but not pleasantly out of it all the time." Before I Say Goodbye is a collection of columns and e-mails from Picardie in her last year before dying of breast cancer at age 33. The short (131-page) book also includes e-mails from her friends and letters from her readers.

Before I Say Goodbye provides an intimate glimpse into Picardie's life, friendships, and state of mind in that last year. As much as breast cancer consumed her (physically and mentally), she still had comments about her correspondents' issues (one is HIV-positive) and about trivial matters, such as clothing, face creams, body weight, and television ("ER tonight, which gives life meaning"). She also offered some provocative insights:

  • "Went to see Evita the movie.... Eva Peron died of breast cancer and guess what: the c-word isn't mentioned once. The great unmentionable."
  • "Fun things about breast cancer: 1. You get your hair cut really short because it's falling out, and it really suits you. You decide to keep it that way forever. 2. You can be really horrible to people and not feel guilty."
  • "Having a terminal illness is supposed to make you extremely wise and evolved.... Unfortunately, I just can't get my head around Zen meditation, and seem to be stuck in, 'Why did I eat the fishfingers that Lola spat out when I can't fit into my jeans any more?'... Still, one of the women at my support group recently lost a lot of weight. On Monday night, she died." --Joan Price

About the Author:

Ruth Picardie was raised and educated in London, Oxford, and Cardiff, England. She studied social anthropology at Cambridge University. After graduation, she worked as an editor and freelance writer for numerous magazines and newspapers. A happily married mother of twins, she was diagnosed with breast cancer at age thirty-two. She died in September of 1997.

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