Newspaper Article from: The Randolph Reporter

A book on cancer. Start laughing

IN FOCUS
By P.C. Robinson
Published: Dec 18th, 6:58 AM
Andrea Katz and I share a history.

For some time now, the Randolph resident and I have been racking our brains to remember where we met as AT&T employees. It was 15 to 20 years ago, when life for us both meant meetings, meetings and more meetings, lots of travel — international, in my case — and trying to be the best in our corporate packs.

In other words, we were 90’s women.

Then came the Millennium and things changed for what pessimists would call the worst and what I call twisted blessings.

In the post-2000 world Katz, who is a few years my junior and by far the better looking, even when bald,  and I came to share a more personal past as cancer survivors — breast cancer for me, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma for her.

Sure, I endured the rigorous regimen of cancer treatments: chemo, surgery, radiation (in that order), but that wasn’t half as tough as what Katz has endured. Lymphoma is a tricky beast and Katz, after a recurrence in which chemo was no longer an option, in late summer tackled a stem cell transplant at New York’s Memorial Sloan-Kettering.

Following treatments, she was sequestered in a Manhattan apartment for a month and a half so her weakened immune system can bounce back. Now she’s home, although her doctors have advised her to stay out of crowds during the holiday season.

Start laughing.

You heard me. As Katz and I learned, you get cancer, you better have a sense of humor or your mental health will go south faster than you can say tamoxifen.

Knowing this, Katz, after enduring her first round of treatment, buckled down and, with the help of family and friends, penned “Chemo Katelynn: Humorous Perspectives on life Before Cancer and After Diagnosis.” That’s right, cancer B.C. and A.D., just like the timeline.

Katz had hoped to debut the book in time for October and Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The stem cell adventure postponed that, however, so she’s just released it, which sells for $15.95, was published by Bascom Hill Books, and can purchased

through her website, www.chemokatelynn.com.

Trust me, it’s a hilarious book for gals like us who have been there, done that.

Katz nails what life is before, and after a cancer diagnosis in a series of illustrations involving her Chemo Katelynn alter ego: a corporate executive whose priorities and perspectives literally change after learning what ranks as one of the worst news of one’s life.

For example, in two frames, she describes how cancer change’s one’s perception of beauty. In the “Before Cancer” panel, slugged “Blonde is Beautiful,”  a full-haired KateLynn admires the hair style of a TV news anchorwoman. “I just love her golden locks,” she says.

It‘s a different view A.D., or After Diagnosis, when, bald-headed from chemo, she eyes a bald male anchorman and thinks, “ That guy‘s hot.”

Just as funny is Chemo Katelynn when, before cancer, she orders a take out dinner because she’s “too tired” to cook. A. D., she’s making the same call, only this time with a far more creative excuse. “I can’t get near the stove. My wig is flammable,” she tells her husband.

Like I said, we have to laugh to survive.

What else can you do, anyway? Dig a hole and hide? It doesn’t work that way with cancer.

Katz offers more than humor in her book. For example, a lot of us undergo attitude changes. We speak up more. We’re not afraid to tell the truth.

Am I treating the topic too lightly? No. But I will look at it from the perspective of a soldier who’s endured combat. It’s a perspective we happy few share in our own special band of brothers and sisters.

At this moment, a male colleague is going through hell battling not one, not two but three types of brain cancer. It’s a detour through Hell, and yes, I’m frightened for him.

But Katz’s book demonstrates that, even in the darkest moments of our health, no matter how tough, life still goes on. While it may not cure, laughter is still a medicine that helps to heal.

The writer is editor of the Randolph Reporter Reporter, serving Randolph Township and Mine Hill Township. She can be reached at (908)  879-4100, ext. 12 or at probinson@recordernewspapers.com.