Diagnosed with breast cancer, Natalie Serber did the only thing she could: she wrote her way through the confusion and fear. In this fierce and good-humored memoir, she maintains her sense of gratitude and grace.

Letter to Reader

I was home alone on a Tuesday morning when my breast surgeon called with the results of my biopsy. I’m sorry, she said. As soon as we hung up, I called a close friend and asked her—in what must have been the tiny, frightened voice of a child—to please come over and sit with me. Of course, she responded, but who is this?

That’s what my bad diagnosis did to me. It terrified me. It made me unrecognizable. I was not the person meant to be ill. I was the hand holder, the meal deliverer, the person who sat at a friend’s side playing scrabble while the chemo dripped.

My diagnosis also made me feel terribly alone, which is a paradox isn’t it? For yes, of course we have to move through the fear, the uncertainty and the suffering alone inside our heads, but suffering and sorrow are part of the human experience. Our particular grief connects us with one another.

My friend rushed over right away in her nightgown; she stumbled up the front porch steps and sat beside me. She was one of many friends and family members who helped to see me through.

If you’ve received your own bad diagnosis, I hope my story makes you feel less alone. I hope reading about how I made it through makes you feel a little bit stronger. I hope you feel me beside you, seeing you through.

~Natalie Serber

Natalie Serber is the kind of friend you long for when things get hard—tough enough to see how dark things can get, but with enough pluck and fortitude to show you how to thrash through it. This perfect memoir is not just a tale of surviving a diagnosis but of truly experiencing it, observing it, and feeling all that it brings—gravity, absurdity, craziness, fury, tenacity, and love.

Robin Romm, author of The Mercy Papers and The Mother Garden

I loved Natalie Serber's smart, funny and bittersweet report from the Land of Breast Cancer. Fear and grief take turns with an "almost normal day"; kindness and honesty collide with "irrational" rage. While generously detailing the unique aspects of her personal journey, she also manages to honor the collective experience so many (too many!) of us have shared. Now we have this story to share too.

Elizabeth Rosner, author of Electric City, Blue Nude, and The Speed of Light

What I loved about this book: the honesty, the unadorned reality, the bitter, the sweet, the surrender—the lucidness, and lyric grace that touched these pages, calling you friend, whispering secrets, helping readers grapple with their own struggles with the fear and pain and shame that comes from a diagnosis of Cancer. Natalie Serber is a born writer, braiding past, present and future into a story that is both vulnerable and strong, witty and filled with insight.

Naseem Rakha, author of The Crying Tree