I received an advanced reader copy (ARC) of this book, Living in Color, by Mike Murphy.
A story about a remarkable woman who faced the toughest of battles with grace, faith, and a smile.
This is not your typical Boy Meets Girl story, though that is part of it – so much so that the first couple of chapters read more like a romance novel than anything. This true story is about love, yes, but also about faith and spirituality and letting go. It is about a young woman with such strength and grace, fighting a battle no one should ever have to fight. It is about a man who not only stood by her side every step of the way, but later started a foundation to help low-income women with the financial expenses of fighting their own battles with cancer.
We all know at least one person who has had cancer, but we tend not to think about what that really means for them. We don’t want to think about it. We hear the words “cancer” and “radiation” and “chemotherapy,” but we rarely stop to think what that really entails. How it feels. What it looks like. Mike Murphy tells this story in real time, openly, honestly, and in such detail that we see it all, and it is the most horrifying yet uplifting thing I’ve ever read.
Aside from the deep emotions poured into the words themselves, there are pictures. You see Margot as she was when they met, walking her dog, at their wedding. And, in great contrast, we see pictures of her during the chemo, after the brain surgery, lying in a hospital bed with more wires hooked up to her than I can count. You see the X-Ray of her lungs, half filled with fluid as she struggles to breathe. You see the bottles filled with that yellow fluid, drained from her lungs. And though the cancer and the treatments changed her physically, the one thing that never changed was her smile. I look at the pictures of this vibrant young woman (only thirty-seven), bald from chemotherapy, a port inserted into her brain, at times too weak to walk, having endured symptoms and procedures that go beyond any pain I can imagine, and I see her smiling in all of them.
Margot chose to live through all of it without fear, believing that we are more than our bodies, that her body was just the place that housed her spirit, and while her body may have been damaged and broken (not only by breast cancer, but then bone cancer, and lung cancer, and brain cancer. . .), her spirit was not. How does one smile through that? Well, in the words of this remarkably brave young lady, “You bend to the universe; it never bends to you.”
I believe this is a book that anyone with a loved one fighting cancer should read – if they want to truly understand what it is they’re going through. Told with such empathy and understanding, filled with takeaways and philosophical ideals about life and death and love, this is a book that will, once read, stay with you forever.