Welcome to the comments and discussion of the Young Adult Cancer Book Club! We are reading Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I’ve Loved by Kate Bowler. Catch up on Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4, and Chapter 5.
Let’s get started!
Chapter 6: Christmas Cheer
Commentary by Yolanda M.:
This chapter opens up with Kate talking about how much her family loves Christmas which. She discussed how this Christmas she was looking for a miracle in regards to her colon cancer. As they were setting a course for her treatment, waiting for test results to see what kind of cancer cells they were dealing with, she finds out she has “Magic Cancer” and qualifies for a clinical trial. She starts everything in motion but soon finds out that her insurance wont cover the clinical trial and the cost is far more than she can afford. It is here she is faced with a tough decision, does she take money from her parents which is their savings and retirement? She doesn’t want to bankrupt her family all to save her life.
Kate remembers back to her Christmas services back in Canada and she fondly remembers her old Sunday School teacher Carol who shares that she has cancer. Carol’s faith spoke of knowing God better through her battle with cancer. Once Kate set up her own home with the trimmings of Christmas, its then she realizes that she doesn’t just want to know God better, but she she also wants to save her family.
In a desperate attempt to get into the clinical trial Kate contacts 2 professors she knows connected to the hospital, telling them she has been turned down by insurance and she is grasping for straws. Within 24 hours, Kate receives emails from far and wide stating that she will no longer have any issues with insurance coverage, her family is spared and her life may be saved!
With her insurance issues out of the way, Kate moves forward with seeing if she qualifies for the clinical trial. After she completes the initial tests, she starts to think about the phrase she shouted to her father out of frustration “I am not a normal person!” She questions if who she portrays to be on social media is who she really is – the person who thinks she can save herself. As she goes through chemo she despises her body and hair yet she posts on Facebook pretty selfies and nicknames her chemo pack “Jimmy” all in hopes to hide the ugliness of chemo. She didn’t want to be seen as just another cancer patient.
Commentary by Sharon L.:
Christmas is coming and Kate is awaiting some Christmas cheer. Here she is, having spoken with the palliative care doctor and received the news that she can either maybe live, die almost immediately, or have a magic cancer. The magic cancer means that she may qualify for a clinical trial. So now the Christmas cheer that Kate awaits is the news of which type of cancer cells she has.
Fortunately, she has the magic cancer, but then she receives the bad news that her insurance does not cover it and it will cost $100,000 to begin the trial. Her father, who will do anything for his daughter, tells her that they have the money. In all honesty, her family has agreed to liquidate their assets, which would leave them in a bind. Kate, not able to live with herself if they did that, turns to her colleagues, who, with their connections are able to get her in the trial.
So, Kate and her father drive down to Atlanta for the initial testing to see if she qualifies for the clinical trial. The chapter ends with Kate having her father take a picture of her at the sign for the cancer clinic as they leave, so that when she gets in the trial people can see her in the moment. It was a good thing that he did take that photo because she does qualify for the clinical trial.
This chapter was very difficult for me to read because the second time I was diagnosed it was November and I had to wait two weeks for the hospital to decide what type of cancer I had and what kind of treatment I would need. Since this was the second time I had cancer, I already felt guilty because my family had spent so much money on me and we couldn’t take vacations and I couldn’t do anything about it. But, my father was always there for me, taking me back and forth to appointments and treatments, trying to make me laugh.
I really think that there is some truth to that sign in the cancer clinic at Emory that said Laughter is the Best Medicine.
Commentary by Juliette K.:
In this chapter, Kate is praying for a Christmas miracle. She’s hoping for a diagnosis that she has a 3% chance of, that will allow her into clinical trials. She gets the “magic cancer” diagnosis she hoped for, then she can’t cover the cost of the trials. Her insurance won’t cover it and she doesn’t want to bankrupt her family so she calls some friends at the university and they pull some strings to get her treatment funded.
She talks humorously about her unending false positivity and she is beginning to realize that it’s not serving her.
Join in next Monday for the comments and discussion on Chapter 7: Certainty!
Thanks for joining us for Chapter 6: Christmas Cheer of Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I’ve Loved by Kate Bowler! Join in next Monday for the next chapter!
We will talk about a few chapters each Monday until the book is done. If Monday happens to be a holiday, then the post will publish on Tuesday. Once we finish the book, we’ll use one more Monday to talk about general feelings from the book and anything else you’d like to discuss. We’ll also have a video chat book club discussion at the end! Join in, in the comments every week! Also, there will probably be spoilers so read along with us!
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