You want Jersey tough? Step aside, Gov. Chris Christie. Meet Deb Ebenstein.
In the summer of 1993, she was sixteen with great legs, curly brown hair, and smarts enough not to smoke—the “whole package,” she doesn’t mind saying. But then, at volleyball practice, things suddenly weren’t working right.
She had cancer—Hodgkin’s disease. And with that, “I was not a girl. I was cancer.” Then came surgery, chemo, radiation, and the only part of her body that still looked beautiful to her were her toenails, leading to a fetish for self-applied pedicures and the title of her book.
She got better and began living between checkups, three months at a time. Then, at 28, she was struck again, this time with a rare blood disease. Another round of painful, debilitating treatments, but she beat it.
As she tells about those two illnesses, she never loses her verve or humor. She moves to New York, witnesses the Twin Towers collapsing, falls in love, and marries. Doctors tell her that chemo has left her infertile. She has a baby boy. “My dream came true,” she writes.
And then, another nightmare: breast cancer, double mastectomy, and breast reconstruction. After all that, Ebenstein emerges proud of her “cute new boobies” and thankful to be a suburban mom.
Her medical history has taught her much, but she is not one to preach, except to say, “be overwhelmingly grateful for simplicity.”
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