Not Without a Fight, by Donna Redman, is the emotionally compelling story of Tammy Redman, the author’s daughter, in her battle against a rare cancer that ultimately took her life.
From Tammy’s initial diagnosis in 1998, the reader is taken on the journey of treatment options and their corresponding pain and side effects, the constant volley between hope and setbacks, and Tammy’s eventual transition to palliative as opposed to curative care. Although written by Tammy’s mother, the book also includes entries from Tammy’s journal. The memoir concludes with Tammy’s memorial service and a poem written for her by the author’s friend, who would later succumb to cancer herself.
Although in the beginning the book doesn’t feel terribly unique—after all, cancer is hardly uncommon—the reader can’t help eventually getting drawn into Tammy’s story as her family, including an identical twin sister, rallies around her. The book’s emotional power is in the details: the look of despair in the doctor’s eyes as he reads the MRI that dashed any hope of recovery; Tammy’s indomitable spirit as she plays tourist in Chicago during a trip to receive treatment; and the moment her mother tells her that she is in fact terminal. Adding to the heartbreak, the book details financial hardship as Tammy’s family navigates the bureaucracies of the health care system and goes into severe debt to save her life, causing readers to ponder how we as a nation could improve the burden on those facing severe health crises.
Overall, this is a touching tribute to a daughter who, as the title says, didn’t give up without a fight. While it’s hard to say who the appropriate audience for this title would be (cancer patients? health care advocates?) those who read this book will also be reminded of the importance of gratitude and cherishing our loved ones while they are still here.
Also available in hardcover.