Prather’s Pick: A memorable book about surviving cancer
Most people know Robin Roberts as a co-anchor of ABC’s “Good Morning America.” Before that, she was a long-time anchor at ESPN — for 15 years, as a matter of fact.
When Roberts was a child, her mother used to say, “Everybody’s got something.” So that’s the title of her memoir. “Everybody’s Got Something” was written by Robin Roberts, with Veronica Chambers. The book was published by Grand Central Publishing, 2014.
The book, according to Roberts, explains how she “lived the questions,” referring to the many questions that she asked in 2012. For example, “What’s that funny bump in my neck? What exactly is wrong with me? Am I going to lose my momma? How will I survive without my mother?” And there were others, too.
In her memoir, Roberts shares her experiences in confronting and fighting cancer, first breast cancer in 2007 and then myelodysplastic syndrome in 2012, and the support she received from doctors, nurses, family members, colleagues, friends and strangers during the difficult times. It’s a story of “my something” and “my road to something better.” The book is one of determination, courage and love.
When Roberts discovered the “funny bump” in her neck, she was already a survivor of breast cancer. In Chapter 7 of the memoir, Roberts explained that she got the diagnosis while on a flight to Atlanta (actually as the plane landed) while she was on assignment. It was at her insistence that the doctor gave her the diagnosis in this manner; he wanted to see her in person.
Roberts underwent surgery to successfully remove the tumor and then spent months in chemotherapy and radiation treatment. Later she helped raise awareness of the importance of early detection of breast cancer through mammograms and ultrasound testing. By the time she was cancer-free, Roberts had decided that “Cancer was nothing more than a chapter in my life’s story.” She went on with her busy career.
In 2012, Roberts was doing the red carpet show for the Oscars. She remembers how exhausted she was — “off the charts.” She also remembers noticing a little lump in her neck when she was backstage. She didn’t think much about it, but her friend Amber insisted that she have it checked out. After two sets of blood work, a visit to a specialist, and a bone marrow biopsy, Roberts was diagnosed with MDS, myelodysplastic syndrome, a rare disease that was once called pre-leukemia. The specialists believed the disease to be caused by the chemotherapy that treated her breast cancer.
Roberts needed a bone marrow transplant so the first task was to find a donor, and timing was everything. Amazingly, Roberts’ sister, Sally-Ann, became the donor. Roberts has remembered all of the transplant preparation, the transplant, and recovery, plus the support of many, many people. She has remembered going back to work, too. It’s all in the memoir.
Sadly, Roberts lost her mother during this time. The transplant procedure had to be postponed for a short time, and Roberts had to postpone her grieving. Roberts has devoted much of her memoir to the love she had for her mother.
The reader will learn a lot about Roberts from this book, and there is more than one message to take away from it, too.
“Everybody’s Got Something” costs $27 in hardcover. It can also be found with the new books at the Moffat County Library.