Foreword by Alan M. Dershowitz
Introduction by Leonard H. Wexler, M.D
“The dramatic language, both highly descriptive and emotional, rings with the unforgiving pain and fear of this terrifying disease…The amplification of the lives of Judith and her daughter, Nadia, are felt as you read this deep and loving book.” —Carly Simon
In her emotionally uncompromising memoir, MOTHERHOOD EXAGGERATED (CavanKerry Press; February 2012; $21.00), Judith Hannan recounts the ordeal of her young daughter’s battle with cancer and how the frightening medical journey tested and strengthened a mother’s reliance. This latest volume from LaurelBooks, CavanKerry’s Literature of Illness imprint, takes readers from diagnosis to remission as eight-year-old Nadia Hannan endures the nightmare of potentially terminal bone cancer, and the entire family weathers the dire interruption in their lives. Told with grace and candor, Judith Hannan’s fierce depiction of an unwelcome trial of motherhood is, in the words of novelist Mary Gordon, “a moving, engaging retelling of the complex bonds and tensions every parent experiences in our relationship with our children.”
Everything can change in an instant. “It is Halloween and Nadia is still dressed in her angel costume after an evening of trick-or-treating, when the cancer finally shows itself,” Hannan writes. “I look and see the lump. I am more curious than concerned, as if I have been give a puzzle to solve. It is still 36 hours before we are being prepared for a cancer diagnosis. Nadia will have one gymnastics session with her new coach, one swimming lesson with Gaby and then her violin will be put away permanently. She will be stripped of her wings and confined to a chrysalis woven of chemotherapy. I am the one who will grow wings. My flight will be clumsy at first, but I will remember all those dragonflies. How could I have not recognized their strength, their certainty, their agility? If I fly like them, I will learn what I thought I should have known but have always struggled with—how to be Nadia’s mother.”
Nadia is diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a malignant bone tumor, and undergoes a grueling six month of chemotherapy that will devastate her body and disrupt her young life. As Judith, and her husband John, struggle with the harsh, persistent demands of this treatment, they deal with their own issues and fears. Nadia’s older sister, Frannie, and twin brother, Max, handle their sister’s illness in their own often-surprising ways. For Judith, her daughter’s illness also rekindles emotions that had lay dormant since her mother’s battle with terminal cancer, and reawakens, too, a yearning for spiritual answers long suppressed in her secular Jewish life. In MOTHERHOOD EXAGGERATED, Hannan never whitewashes the truth about this arduous medical journey, detailing the negative and, yes, positive steps along the way. Without pity, she admits to her own insecurities, missteps, and moments of weakness, but also takes pride in the small victories won as she battled for her Nadia’s very life.
“Judith Hannan has performed a valuable service by publishing this remarkably honest account of the crisis she and her family went through as her daughter—now a brilliant and beautiful young woman—dealt with a rare form of cancer,” writes Alan M. Dershowitz in his foreword to MOTHERHOOD EXAGGERATED. “She takes us with her on her journey through the valley of the shadow of death and then back to the sunshine of life….Judith’s willingness to share intimate feelings and to discuss difficult moments is a gift that will help so many, as it has already helped me, to deal with the past as well as the future.”
About Judith Hannan:
Judith Hannan has been a writer for over 25 years; 10 years ago she began exploring personal narrative. Her essays have appeared in such publications as Woman’s Day, Twins Magazine, The Martha’s Vineyard Gazette, Mom Writer’s Literary Magazine, The Healing Muse, and the anthology On The Vineyard III. She teaches writing about personal experience to homeless single mothers and to at-risk adolescents. Ms. Hannan has a long history of involvement in children’s education, health and welfare. She served as Director of Development for the 92nd Street Y and then for the Children’s Museum of Manhattan. She serves on the board of the Museum as well as on three boards affiliated with the Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York—the Adolescent Health Center, the Children’s Center Foundation and the new Global Health Initiative. Ms. Hannan lives in New York City with her husband and three children.
MOTHERHOOD EXAGGERATED by Judith Hannan
Publication Date: February 2012
Price: $21.00; ISBN: 987-1-933880-27-3
Distributed by: University Press of New England (UPNE), 1-800-421-1561 or 603-448-1533, Ext. 255