Reviews for No Cure For Being Human

by Kate Bowler

Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

A chronicle of grief, hope, and courage.In 2015, when she was 35, Bowler, who teaches the history of Christianity at Duke Divinity School, was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer, with a very low chance of survival beyond two years. Years later, she follows her earlier memoir, Everything Happens for a Reason, with wise, wry reflections on living in the face of uncertainty. The world I thought I knew before the diagnosis was hygienic, predictable, and safe, Bowler writes. Her new world was threatening, uncontrollable, and unstable; her research, writing, and teaching suddenly seemed irrelevant. Often, the medical community made her feel reduced to an integer, quantified and charted. Cancer, she increasingly realized, was a mystery, and repeated visits and scans led to conversations with doctors to discuss what we are learning about the illness. Elated that she was one of few candidates for immunotherapy, she enrolled in an arduous clinical study, traveling weekly from her home in North Carolina to Atlanta, where she was infused with harsh, debilitating chemotherapy and immunotherapy drugs. Every cycle of her treatment left her grateful, weary, and, almost imperceptibly, weaker than the week beforewithout knowing if, and when, the treatment would work. Above all, she confronted the daily specter of imminent death. Everybody pretends that you only die once, she writes. But thats not true. You can die to a thousand possible futures in the course of a single, stupid life. Bowler debunks the hollow clichs that she has heard too often: to seize the day, live in the present, work on a bucket list. Facing the past, she counters, is part of facing the future. Like others who have suffered traumatic loss or illnessespecially during the pandemicBowler recognizes that so often the experiences that define us are the ones we didnt pick.A sensitive memoir of survival. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

A chronicle of grief, hope, and courage. In 2015, when she was 35, Bowler, who teaches the history of Christianity at Duke Divinity School, was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer, with a very low chance of survival beyond two years. Years later, she follows her earlier memoir, Everything Happens for a Reason, with wise, wry reflections on living in the face of uncertainty. “The world I thought I knew before the diagnosis was hygienic, predictable, and safe,” Bowler writes. Her new world was threatening, uncontrollable, and unstable; her research, writing, and teaching suddenly seemed irrelevant. Often, the medical community made her feel reduced to an integer, quantified and charted. Cancer, she increasingly realized, was a mystery, and repeated visits and scans led to conversations with doctors to discuss what “ ‘we’ are learning” about the illness. Elated that she was one of few candidates for immunotherapy, she enrolled in an arduous clinical study, traveling weekly from her home in North Carolina to Atlanta, where she was infused with harsh, debilitating chemotherapy and immunotherapy drugs. Every cycle of her treatment left her “grateful, weary, and, almost imperceptibly, weaker than the week before”—without knowing if, and when, the treatment would work. Above all, she confronted the daily specter of imminent death. “Everybody pretends that you only die once,” she writes. “But that’s not true. You can die to a thousand possible futures in the course of a single, stupid life.” Bowler debunks the hollow clichés that she has heard too often: to seize the day, live in the present, work on a bucket list. “Facing the past,” she counters, “is part of facing the future.” Like others who have suffered traumatic loss or illness—especially during the pandemic—Bowler recognizes that “so often the experiences that define us are the ones we didn’t pick.” A sensitive memoir of survival. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

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