The novel follows the progress of the first-person narrator through diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer, and beyond.
Karen gives an overview of the book:
From the Preface:
I was diagnosed with breast cancer in September, 2001. I was thirty-six. From the day of the biopsy to the last day of my radiation treatment the following March, strangers loomed closer than they ever had before. Doctors palpated my breasts, entered examining rooms briskly, eyes averted, spoke to me at a slant. Anonymous co-workers promised to pray for me. Distant acquaintances exclaimed over how brave I was. Cancer survivors handed me stuffed animals and pink ribbon pins. I resented the attention of these strangers and was grateful for it. Their skills and their treatments were making me sick and they were saving my life.
Several months after I’d completed my treatment, I read a newspaper article describing a former Miss America’s visit to the chemotherapy suite of a local hospital. I was stunned. Though the patients were apparently grateful to her, I was outraged for them, at this outlandish violation of their privacy. What would I have done, I wondered? Nothing, I supposed. I would have been so taken off guard by this stranger among strangers (though she was the only
one with a tiara), so unprepared for such a bizarre apparition, and so focused on surviving that I would have shut down. That’s when this novel’s narrator appeared. She, too, was a stranger to me, but one I wanted to get to know. Are You a Survivor? is her story.
I have an MFA from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. My stories have been published in The Iowa Review, Bottomfish Magazine, Sonora Review, Kansas Quarterly, Arkansas Review, Antigonish Review, New Orphic Review, and Fiddlehead. My novel Are You a Survivor? has just...