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Most of Me
Cover of Most of Me
Most of Me
Surviving My Medical Meltdown
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The imaginative, hilarious, and moving memoir of a woman coping with multiple diseases.

At forty-three, Robyn Levy was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and breast cancer. With irreverent and at times mordant humor, Levy chronicles her early, mysterious symptoms of Parkinson's (a dragging left foot, a frozen left hand, and a crash into “downward dead dog” position), the devastating diagnosis, her discovery of two lumps in her breast, her mastectomy and oophorectomy, and her life since then dealing with her diverse disease portfolio.

Levy is accompanied on her journey by a fantastic cast of characters, including her Cry Lady (who always makes appearances at inopportune times) and perky Dolores the Prosthesis, as well as her loyal dog and a convoy of health professionals, family members, friends, and neighbors.

Both heartbreaking and hilarious, Most of Me offers a unique glimpse into a creative mind, an ailing body, and the restorative power of humor and fantasy.
The imaginative, hilarious, and moving memoir of a woman coping with multiple diseases.

At forty-three, Robyn Levy was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and breast cancer. With irreverent and at times mordant humor, Levy chronicles her early, mysterious symptoms of Parkinson's (a dragging left foot, a frozen left hand, and a crash into “downward dead dog” position), the devastating diagnosis, her discovery of two lumps in her breast, her mastectomy and oophorectomy, and her life since then dealing with her diverse disease portfolio.

Levy is accompanied on her journey by a fantastic cast of characters, including her Cry Lady (who always makes appearances at inopportune times) and perky Dolores the Prosthesis, as well as her loyal dog and a convoy of health professionals, family members, friends, and neighbors.

Both heartbreaking and hilarious, Most of Me offers a unique glimpse into a creative mind, an ailing body, and the restorative power of humor and fantasy.
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Excerpts-
  • From the book

    The night before my appointment with the oncologist, I am wound up with worry and in desperate need of distraction. Bergen suggests we escape to the movies for some comic relief.

    “How about Woody Allen's new film, Vicky Christina Barcelona?"

    “That means I'd have to get out of these pajamas and put on some real clothes," I whine.

    “That's right. I'll help you," Bergen assures me.

    Soon I'm wearing what will become my post-mastectomy uniform—jeans and a loose-fitting blouse with a scarf strategically draped around my collar so that the fabric conceals my vacant lot.

    This is our first evening out since my surgery—just the two of us. Once we've bought our tickets, the mouthwatering aroma of popcorn lures us into the lobby—where I immediately have second thoughts. What am I doing here? This is crazy! People and popcorn stream by. I snuggle up close to Bergen, not because I'm feeling romantic, but because I'm feeling neurotic and self-conscious. What if someone accidentally elbows me in the chest? What if I bump into someone I know and my Cry Lady makes a scene? I don't tell Bergen what I'm thinking, but he knows that I'm nervous.

    “Don't worry," he says, “everything's going to be OK." I take a deep breath and while exhaling I spot Michelle and Honey. They're old friends of Bergen's and judging by the expressions on their faces, they are surprised to see me alive. There's a round of hugs and hellos and then Bergen says, “I'll be right back," and heads to the washroom, leaving us ladies alone to chat.

    Michelle stuffs her hands in her pockets, gives me a nervous smile, then bravely asks, “How are you? I heard about your diagnosis."

    “I'm doing OK," I say, glancing down at my chest, aware of a slight tingling sensation in my eyes.

    “When was your surgery?" Honey wants to know.

    “About a month and a half ago. The beginning of August," I say, determined not to cry.

    “Wow! You look great," Michelle says.

    “Thanks," I reply, strategizing how best to keep those unwanted tears at bay. Poke my eyes out? Pass. Let out a primal scream? Not in the mood. Play a practical joke? It's worth a try.

    I spot Bergen in the distance, “Here he comes," I say.

    We all turn our heads toward the rear of the lobby and watch him weave through the crowd, toward us.

    “Do me a favour," I whisper, keeping a straight face, “Please don't mention my mastectomy to Bergen. I haven't told him yet."

    Gobsmacked, Michelle and Honey freeze in place, their eyes bulging out at me, then at each other, then back at me. I can almost hear their voices inside their heads, wondering, “Why hasn't she told him?" “What kind of husband doesn't notice a missing breast?" These precious fleeting seconds of deception fill me with joy—it's comforting to know that my hoodwinking habit still works as well as it did when I had two tits. When Bergen rejoins our group there's an awkward silence. And then I start to laugh.

    “What's so funny?" he wants to know.

    “Robyn is," Michelle answers, laughing along with Honey, “but you probably already know that."

    ***

About the Author-
  • Robyn Michele Levy is a visual artist, radio broadcaster, and writer. Her paintings can be found in private and public collections around the world. Her radio work includes documentaries, commentaries, poetry, and sketch comedy for CBC-Radio. Her writing has been published in the Vancouver Sun, the Georgia Straight, and the Vancouver Courier, among other publications, and she has also dabbled in stand-up comedy and slam poetry. She lives with her family and her remaining body parts in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Table of Contents-
  • Acknowledgments 1
    Prologue 5
    1 The Bad Old Days 7
    2 Breaking News Is Hard to Do 25
    3 Ladies in Waning 55
    4 Sex and Dogs and Crowd Control 71
    5 Lost and Found 87
    6 Kissing My Cleavage Good-bye 115
    7 In Search of Kick-Ass Clarity 141
    8 Travels with Dolores 165
    9 The Comeback Mama 185
    10 Some Don't Like It Hot 213

Reviews-
  • Kirkus

    June 1, 2012
    One woman's plight surviving simultaneous illnesses. In her debut memoir, Levy provides a dark-humored account of being afflicted with both Parkinson's disease and breast cancer. After losing her job as a producer for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, a bout of depression gave way to a diagnosis of Parkinson's, a blow that left Levy turning to humor as a defense. In one particularly comedic self-written obituary, Levy writes: "Robyn Michele Levy passed away peacefully into her bowl of organic cornflakes. She leaves behind a ripe kiwi, a fistful of pills, her teenage daughter, and her devoted husband. In lieu of flowers, donations to her MasterCard account would be appreciated." Similarly, a few months later, after a doctor diagnosed her with breast cancer as well, Levy wryly replied, "At least I don't have testicular cancer." Levy's comedic insertions into what might otherwise prove a depressing narrative provides readers an unexpected, though greatly appreciated, dissonance between subject matter and tone. As her physical ailments continued to compound, Levy explains her decision to embrace humor in spite of the darkness surrounding her. "What else can one do but see the humor, albeit black humor, in life?" she asked a friend, a philosophy regularly put forth throughout the narrative. What initially seemed like a dual death sentence provided Levy with a new lease on life, reuniting her with friends and family, all of whom reminded her of the many blessings that remained. A traumatic tale surprisingly liberated by laughter.

    COPYRIGHT(2012) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    Starred review from August 1, 2012

    Some memoirs are heartbreaking and some are hilarious, but very few manage to balance absurdity and honesty as does this title. Writer and artist Levy finds her dual diagnoses of Parkinson's disease and breast cancer wickedly funny and this book is just that. Readers will follow her as she cracks jokes at her doctors, draws strength from her family and friends, and fantasizes about her dentist neighbor flossing her teeth for her. Levy draws strength and tenacity from her ability to laugh at her calamities, and she will inspire readers to see the fiercely funny in their own tragedies. Anyone faced with uncertainty and struggle in the face of a life-changing disease, personal crisis, or just a bad day will find strength in Levy's words. VERDICT This memoir is proof of the power of the human spirit. By finding joy in the face of the worst circumstances, Levy shows that "what doesn't kill you makes you stranger" and stronger. Enthusiastically recommended.--Julia A. Watson, Marywood Univ. Lib., Scranton, PA

    Copyright 2012 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Library Journal

    "This memoir is proof of the power of the human spirit. By finding joy in the face of the worst circumstances, Levy shows that "what doesn't kill you makes you stranger" "and" stronger. Enthusiastically recommended."

  • Kirkus Reviews "Levy's comedic insertions into what might otherwise prove a depressing narrative provides readers an unexpected, though greatly appreciated, dissonance between subject matter and tone. ...A traumatic tale surprisingly liberated by laughter."
  • Globe and Mail, Nov 7, 2011 "It is a brave story, not because of the private emotional reality [Levy] bares -- all memoirs require that. It's her determined levity in the face of so much suffering that's heartbreaking and raw."
  • Gerogia Straight, Oct 20, 2011 "...Levy's writing style is so accessible and compelling that reading her memoir feels like sitting down with a good friend over coffee to hear the latest. Every page is loaded with emotion so heart-wrenching it's almost unbearable, yet her tone is so engaging, her humour so dark, that you can't help but keep reading."
  • Georgia Straight, Oct 20, 2011 "It's serious stuff, but Levy's writing style is so accessible and compelling that reading her memoir feels like sitting down with a good friend over coffee to hear the latest. Every page is loaded with emotion so heart-wrenching it's almost unbearable, yet her tone is so engaging, her humour so dark, that you can't help but keep reading."
  • Bif Naked, international recording artist, writer, poet, and actor, Jul 27, 2011 "It was such a privilege to read Robyn Levy's story. Her integrity and honesty simultaneously broke and healed my heart, fresh from my own journey through breast cancer. Riveting and endearingly funny, her story impacted me profoundly, covering me in a blanket of feelings and thoughts that will stay with me forever, like a friend."
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Surviving My Medical Meltdown
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