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These Precious Days: Essays

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When I look back on those first few months of the pandemic, all I will remember is recurrent pancreatic cancer. It’s clear that friendship is so valuable to AP and once a friend it seems you are a friend for life.

I would love to stay with you for my first night or two in Nashville—it would be wonderful to spend some time with you. You know when people compliment an author by saying, "Oh, I would read their grocery list if they published it!On our fourth date, I looked at him across the table in the restaurant…But what did life ever come to without a few risks? Yet I found myself ignoring the missteps, the saccharine detours, because they stem from the same impulse that enables the more engaging passages: the wish to let the heart “remain open to everyone, everyone, all the time”. ha --I have nothing else I need to do -- so "These Precious Days: Essays" --is a personal gift to myself -- away from another book driving me crazy -- and the joy of sharing with a friend: Erin! I walked from my hotel to the theater and showed my ID to a guard who then led me to the crowded greenroom. Maybe Niki was right about my life being different, but maybe that’s because I tend to think of things in terms of story: I pick up a book and read it late into the night, and because I like the book, I wind up on a flight to D.

Her California and Tennessee oncologists had conferred so that she could transfer from one hospital to the other without missing a treatment. I am doing my best to keep it pushed off to the side, but I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in November (caught it early) so I’ve been dealing with surgeries and chemo.

Then there is the heart-achingly beautiful title essay about her friendship with Sooki, Tom Hanks' assistant, who comes to live with the author during the coronavirus pandemic to receive treatment for pancreatic cancer. This wasn’t about an inability to get good medical care; it was about not being able to find a clinical trial that both matched her cancer and could accept her immediately. As Sparky stopped and sniffed, I offered up Sooki’s recurrence as a story to tell, not a problem to solve. A friend who was well versed in the experience brought them over early in the morning on Memorial Day.

Every day Sooki came upstairs looking spectacular—embroidered jeans, velvet tops, a different coat, a perfect scarf. I told Sister Nena the whole story while we sat in the waiting room, her foot propped up on a wheelchair. We’d stood together in the dark of a Washington theater for a matter of minutes a year and a half earlier. it will take some scheduling, and thus, she finally begins a conversation and relationship with Sooki.

It has been an exercise in creative storytelling to try to think up more and more reasons why the number might rise while the scans (CTs!

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