Bulk and Life

“….(Debulking) removed not only (literature scholar Susan Gubar’s) ovaries, uterus and fallopian tubes, but also the appendix, seven inches of intestine, layers of fat and a membrane lining the abdominal organs.

“Debulking is the standard surgery for advanced ovarian cancer, says Ursula Matulonis, an ovarian cancer specialist at Boston’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Doctors try to trim away tumors that they can’t entirely remove, hoping to make chemotherapy more effective. Combined with chemotherapy, which can knock out microscopic cancer cells that surgeons can’t find, the surgery, while painful, is a woman’s best chance to cure or at least control cancer for a long time.

“For Gubar, now retired from Indiana University but still living in Bloomington, Ind., where she taught for 36 years, ‘debulking becomes a metaphor for what treatment does to women,’ she said in an interview.

“‘Massive amounts of tissue are taken out of your body,’ Gubar said. ‘Various chunks are taken out of your life. I lost my professional life. You lose the capacity to love the people you love the most…. With chemo, you become a zombie. Even your sense of humor is eclipsed. You can’t think about the vast bulk of what your life has been before: your husband, your family. Your emotions, your spirit gets debulked.'”

Szabo, Liz. “Professor Writes About the Painful Effects of Ovarian Cancer”. USA TODAY 20 May 2012. Web.

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