I made a trip to Target for a couple things and as I perused the book section, I came across Between Two Kingdoms: A Memoir of a Life Interrupted by Sulieka Jaouad. It’s far, far away from being anything music related, let alone Beatles related. Though, she does mention dancing with her circle of follow cancer patient friends to Beatles music at one point. It brought me a warm feeling to know that the Beatles could bring a bright moment into the lives of several people dealing with cancer, chemo and radiation.
Imagine being 22 years old, out of college with a new boyfriend and having just moved to Paris with your whole life ahead of you…when you’re diagnosed with leukemia. Suddenly, all those dreams, plans and the freedom you thought you had are taken away in a flash.
I could feel her pain, and I could feel the pain of her caregivers throughout this book. There were moments when I got angry with her and her selfish attitude towards those who were caring for her as she demanded their time and attention or didn’t stop to realize what they were giving up in their own lives to take care of her. I was the caregiver to both my parents during their cancer battles (which happened simultaneously) and it cost me. I developed panic attacks that would plague me for the rest of my life.
Then there were the moments while reading this book when I wanted to say out loud, “I get ya…I completely understand.” Those moments when you go through the ‘why me’ and ‘where do I go from here’…just like when I (yes ME!) was diagnosed with smoldering multiple myeloma. I will never go through what Suleika has gone through, but I could relate to lying on a table while having the bone marrow biopsy, the bloodwork that reminds you constantly that there is something inside of you that’s not right, and that feeling you get when you go to get a tattoo because it feels like you get to reclaim your body from the parasite within you. And that feeling of living between two kingdoms…the kingdom of the well and the kingdom of the sick.
After her long battle with not only cancer, but a failed love relationship, Suleika sets out on a 15K mile road trip to visit some of the people who wrote to her during treatment…cancer patients, caregivers and even a man on death row in a Texas prison, journaling her trip along the way to create Part II of this book. But after publication of her story, Suleika Jaouad’s leukemia returned and she’s currently back in the hospital going through treatment again while watching her boyfriend Jon Batiste take home four Grammys in Las Vegas.
I wish her well…and I hope she writes a new book on this new chapter and what’s she’s learned about life so far. And for that reason…
I rate this book, 4 out of 4 Beetles!