Second Act: A Personal and Practical Guide to Life After Colostomy

Barbara Barrie, Author Scribner Book Company $23 (256p) ISBN 978-0-684-83587-7
Known these days as Brooke Shields's grandmother on TV's Suddenly Susan, actress Barrie ""decided, in a flash, to write this book"" after an embarrassing incident on a New York City bus. So few topics are taboo these days that Barrie's candid tale of colorectal cancer imparts the startling realization that there are still some corners of common human experience that are kept in the dark. Barrie was so reluctant to mention her physical symptoms, either to her doctors or family, that she suffered rectal bleeding and intestinal pain for years before finally ending up in an emergency room. She brings readers along on her subsequent journey through three operations, months of radiation treatments and chemotherapy, good and bad doctors, periods of recovery and horrific pain. The humiliation of examinations, leaking ""pouches"" (the cause of her embarrassing bus ride) and of learning to ""irrigate"" herself daily are also described in vivid detail. Not wanting to be seen as difficult, a ""hypochondriac"" or a ""spoiled woman,"" Barrie kept much of her agony to herself. Only as friends and relatives gradually learned her secret did she discover her family's extensive history of colorectal cancer. Barrie writes that she likes to impart a ""message-to-the-world"" in her acting roles, and she imparts many here--about ensuring early detection, getting second opinions and demanding good health care, accepting the love of family and friends, benefiting from the therapeutic value of work and, ultimately, enjoying a permanently changed but cancer-free life. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/01/1997
Release date: 09/01/1997
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