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Bearing Witness

Living with Ovarian Cancer

Kathryn Carter and Laurie Elit, editors

Life Writing Series

Paper 102 pp.

ISBN13: 978-1-55458-055-2

Release Date: September 2009

Online discount: 25%

$36.99  $27.74


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Bearing Witness is a collection of stories from women who went through the diagnosis of ovarian cancer, and treatment for it, only to find that the cancer recurred and any hope of recovery was gone. These women represent a spectrum of ages, ethnic backgrounds, marital circumstances, and professional experiences. From their stories we learn how each woman shapes the meaning of her life. Facing a life crisis can make one bitter and angry, but it can also provide the key to a thankful and generous spirit within.

Storytelling is an important art form present in many cultures: it is a way of processing life events, of searching for meaning, and of allowing teller and listener to wrestle with the message. It is a form of teaching and learning. For the women in Bearing Witness, stories are tangible legacies for family and friends and a chance to share their thoughts on living with the “glass half full.” They inspire the reader to reflect on life’s struggles and to find within themselves a sense of optimism, perhaps when they least expect to.

Kathryn Carter’s concluding essay places these stories in the context of contemporary discourses of illness and healing.

Kathryn Carter is acting dean at Laurier Brantford where she has taught English and contemporary studies. Her research on women’s diaries led to an edited collection, The Small Details of Life: Twenty Diaries by Women in Canada: 1830–1996 (2002), and recent articles that address the 1830 letter journal of Frances Simpson (in Australian–Canadian Studies), the 1930s diary of Myrtle Gamble Knister (in the Journal of Canadian Studies), and diaries written by schoolgirls in Canada at the end of the nineteenth century (in Canadian Children’s Literature).

Laurie Elit is an associate professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, McMaster University, and a gynecologic oncologist at the Juravinski Cancer Centre, Hamilton. Her research focuses on health service work in cancer care delivery and treatment decision making for women with gynecologic cancers.


“I have often thought that the reason there is so much breast cancer activism is that there are vast numbers of women who have been diagnosed with cancer-the-killer but who have lived to tell the tale. In contrast, ovarian cancer is silent and deadly, and Carter and Elit have done us a service in bringing these stories to the fore.”

— Julia A. Ericksen, Temple University, Signs