Mess – The Hospital Anthology

I have a piece in this new anthology, published by Tightrope Press. It’s being launched this Wednesday March 26th at the Tranzac Club, which happens to be at the end of my street, a 5 minute walk from my house.

March 26 is also the day after my second to last chemo – not counting maintenance chemo that will go on once every 3 months, for the next two years. So it may take me 7 minutes to get to the Tranzac.

I got the news my piece was accepted for publication while I was sitting in a rocking chair on the porch of a 110 year-old wooden hotel, on scrubby little Star Island, 10 miles off the coast of New Hampshire. I was there with 19 amazing women and one wonderful man - the novelist Robert Bausch - doing a memoire-writing workshop with Joyce Maynard. That was three years ago this August.

Needless to say, my piece isn’t about cancer. I likely had it that summer, but I had no idea I had it. The piece, titled "Bucking Bronko", is the wacky, eventful birth story of my oldest son, who is now 14. Buy the book, and you’ll get to read my piece - please!

While I’ve compared cancer to pregnancy and childbirth, and commented on what feels like the obscenity of that analogy, it seems odd and weirdly out-of-sync to be having this piece published, when all this other stuff is going on. I’m cancer girl at the moment, not newborn mommy.

“That’s great too though,” my friend Robert said. “You’re becoming a health-issues essayist.”

“Ya, my health issues.”

It's a bit of a narrow topic and hopefully a finite one, although I seem to have no end of things to say about my body, and no shame or lack of willingness to say them. Thank goodness. I guess. One day I’ll find someone to publish the slightly up-my-vagina piece I wrote about menopause. Seriously, menopause can be very funny. And on the topic of my vagina... have a read here.

We humans have a demanding and sometimes incompatible relationship with our bodies that other animals don’t have. We drive it too hard, pay it far too much attention, abuse it for being too giggly, too klutzy, too hairy, too brown, too white. We ignore it because we’re so busy trying to get to a happy, successful place where we will suddenly expect it to perform successfully – in a bikini. We berate it for falling ill, for letting us down.

No wonder I have so much to say about this body of mine – through sickness and health, and the labour-intensive task of building me two spectacular children. Body mine: I owe you a huge apology. I will start with a small one, although you deserve a novel’s worth.

Dear Body,
I’m so sorry for taking you for granted and hating you so much. You are a good good friend. Thank you for putting up with me. Thank you for letting all these nasty toxins do their job. Thank you for all the material.
Love and endless respect,



congrats, Aviva -- wonderful achievement. I love that your voice is heard in so many places.


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