Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Dirty Bombshell: From Thyroid Cancer Back To Fabulous! - Brunelle

Title: Dirty Bombshell: From Thyroid Cancer Back To Fabulous!

Author: Lorna J. Brunelle
Published: Genre: Memoir
3/5- Good. Read it, have a good time and move on. Or not.

Book Source: Purchased

Recommended if you like: Memoirs, Stories about illness, Survival stories

What Its About:  
Lorna J. Brunelle was only thirty-two years old that fall day when her doctor found a lump in her neck. As not only a young woman in her prime, but also a professional singer and performer, she was horrified. While the cancer was considered a "good" cancer, ie easier to heal, she was terrified of losing her voice, her livelihood and her passion. She underwent surgery to remove her thyroid, then experienced radiation therapy to treat any lingering cells. She now receives hormone treatments (which she will use the rest of her life), to keep her body functioning correctly.

The Bottom Line: 
This is a challenging book for me to review.  I know Lorna J. Brunelle.

We are not friends, never have been, and likely never will be. We attended high school together and we likely share friends on Facebook. While I have seriously tried not to allow my experiences with her to cloud my review, it's only fair that I be open about that. In fact, in the interest of assuring that my review was fair, after reading this memoir I compared my thoughts with some comments on Amazon...

Lots of folks (more than one of whom are, I happen to know, friends and family) said the book was awesome. Some didn't like it quite so much.

I cannot deny the detractors have a point. Some said the book was too whiny and "woe-is-me". Others said it was narcissisticHaving no personal experience, thank the Lord, with thyroid or any other kind of cancer, I cannot speak for the medical issues. But it appears that more than one thyroid cancer survivor has commented similarly, that the cancer Brunelle had was minor (admittedly, even Brunelle calls it the "good cancer") and that Brunelle should suck it up and stop whining. To be clear, I feel that any cancer is major and frankly, all cancer patients/survivors have the right to whine and complain all they want! But I admittedly got tired of hearing that Mrs. Brunelle is a "full scholarship winner" to a prestigious music school (actually it seems the scholarship was from an organization from her hometown, not the actual school...which of course takes nothing away from that amazing honor or the skill required to secure it), a professional performer, and a casting specialist in Boston.

(interestingly, my computer demanded on replacing 'prestigious' with 'pretentious'...just sayin').

On the other hand, I don't disagree with her supporters either. Brunelle's book is quite funny and very entertaining. As others pointed out, Brunelle does a good job of pulling you into her story and making you feel as if you are living through it with her. She truly makes it feel as if you are chatting with a close friend. And, more importantly, she offers what are clearly meant to be valuable pieces of advise for others who might be struggling with a similar experience. She seems to strive to help others, and seems to carry this effort to help others into her professional life. Kudos.

Note however that the book is also...thorough. At 340 pages, this book is very, very (...did I mentioned very) long! Ultimately it is clear to me that Brunelle's work, while well worth sharing, would have greatly benefited from the heavy hand of a  professional editor. Along with fixing grammar and syntax errors, and perhaps focusing the work a bit more, a good editor would have cut this puppy down by about 100 pages!  

All said, this book was a really good first draft. It was a very deep and personal look into one woman's experiences with cancer and treatment. It was touching and funnyAnd while I was entertained by and enjoyed reading this version, I would have really preferred reading the final  product.