Cancer is S. L. Wisenberg's muse, and Cancer Bitch is her blog. Drawing on a wealth of personal, literary, and historical sources - from Jewish liturgy to the first crude mastectomies, from Anne Frank to Emma Goldman - ""The Adventures of Cancer Bitch"" creates an indelible image of a politically engaged, self-aware (sometimes neurotic) woman facing a daunting disease with humor, well-founded fear, and keen intelligence. Wisenberg may have lost a breast, but she retained her humor, outrage, and skepticism toward common wisdom and most institutions. While following the prescribed protocols at the place she called Fancy Hospital, Wisenberg is unsparing in her descriptions of the fumblings of new doctors, her own awkward announcement to her students, and the mounds of unrecyclable plastic left at a survivors' walk. Combining the personal with the political, she shares her research on the money spent on pink ribbons instead of preventing pollution and the disparity in medical care between the insured and the uninsured. When chemotherapy made her bald, she decorated her head with henna swirls in front and an antiwar protest in back. During treatment, she also recorded the dailiness of life in Chicago as she rode the El, taught while one-breasted, and attended High Holiday services and a Passover seder. Wisenberg's writing has been compared to a mix of Leon Wieseltier and Fran Lebowitz, and in this book she has Wieseltier's erudition and Lebowitz's self-deprecating cleverness: 'If anybody ever offers you the choice between suffering and depression, take the suffering. And I don't mean physical suffering. I mean emotional suffering. I am hereby endorsing psychic suffering over depression'.
S. L. Wisenberg is the author of The Sweetheart Is In and Holocaust Girls: History, Memory, and Other Obsessions. The New Yorker, Ploughshares, Tikkun, the New England Review, and the Michigan Quarterly Review have published her poetry and prose, and her work has been widely anthologized, most recently in Rules of Thumb: 73 Authors Reveal Their Fiction Writing Fixations, Short Takes: Brief Encounters with Contemporary Nonfiction, and Creating Nonfiction: A Guide and Anthology. She is a codirector of Northwestern University's program in MA/MFA in creative writing as well as a visiting scholar in gender studies at Northwestern. She also teaches at the University of Chicago Graham School of General Studies. Her blog Cancer Bitch can be read at http://cancerbitch.blogspot.com/.