'Debulked Woman': Ovarian Cancer's Grim Reality

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Feminist literary scholar Susan Gubar was diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer in November 2008, and began her emigration "from the world of the healthy to the domain of the ill."

Ovarian cancer often goes undetected until it has spread throughout the abdomen and is often fatal. To slow the spread of the disease, Gubar underwent a procedure known as the mother of all surgeries, a radical debulking surgery in which her ovaries, uterus, fallopian tubes, appendix and parts of her intestine were removed.

In her book Memoir of a Debulked Woman, she details — with graphic honesty — the physical and emotional pain, the surgery, chemotherapy, "intestinal disasters" and psychological changes that followed.

NPR's Neal Conan talks with Gubar about her continued struggles with the cancer that will likely kill her, and the memoir that became key to her sanity.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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