Teva Harrison shared her journey with cancer in this memoir, In-Between Days. Whether you are living with cancer, caring for someone who is, or simply want a different perspective, this book is worth your time.
It is different from other memoirs I’ve read in three notable ways.
1. It’s short. The page count is 163, because not every page is packed with text, it is an easy read. Easy in the sense that I didn’t have to reread passages because I couldn’t understand what she was saying - I did reread many passages because they were jaw-droppingly poignant.
Teva wrote this as though she were talking to a friend. It’s warm, intimate, and vulnerable.
2. It’s illustrated. Every other page is a drawing that depicts an aspect of Teva’s life with cancer. This drew me into her story ever further.
3. At the end of the book, Teva is alive. There is no epilogue that explains when she died and what the process of completing the book for the publisher was like.
I dont want want to take away anything from the experience of reading this, so I’ll share just a few things I found most valuable.
Teva’s diagnosis happened when she was 37. She lives with advanced metastatic breast cancer, which is currently incurable. In the preface she explained how beneficial it was for her to write and draw about her experience; her hope is that sharing it may lead to conversations that have been too difficult to begin.
The ability to start hard conversations is one of the things I prize most about photography.
Teva presented the book in three parts. The first part is diagnosis, treatment, and side effects. The second part is marriage, family, and society. The third part is hopes, fears, and dreams.
She wrote about how metastatic cancer is a lot like playing Whac-A-Mole. She wrote about managing her pain, and not. She wrote about her granny’s legacy and influence in her life. She wrote about how wearing a seatbelt in a car was an act of hope.
I have witnessed many of these conversations in other families and yet this book broke me open. Teva’s rawness invited my own. The amount of vulnerability and trust in her pages caught me off guard, and I’m so glad it did. It started at the beginning, in the prologue.
Now that I have cancer, I exist entirely in the in-between spaces /
So few words and so much meaning. She ended the prologue thusly.
And so I take the spaces nobody claims and I occupy them in the best way I know how: living life with a sense of wonder and delight.
Becoming acquainted with mortality has certainly taught me how to live. Teva graciously shared her experience with exactly that. It is heartbreaking and hopeful, crushing and uplifting, maddening and humorous.
Just like life. Just like illness. Just like grief.
I see a lot of incredible moments of the human experience while being with families in love and grief. From each family I learn, and those lessons and points to ponder are what I wish to share with you here.