Return to Reading: when chemo side effects subside

On Thursday nights after supper my dad took my sister and I to the old Seylynn library in the basement of the community hall when North Vancouver was still a suburb being carved out of the forest and mountains.

The first time I chose a book that wasn’t a kid’s book a whole world opened up to me. I was amazed at how much life could be contained within the covers.

In those days the librarians would stamp a card with the due date and slip the card in the pocket inside the book. We would talk during the exchange… expressing shared delight over the magic of reading. An armful of books kept me content for a week.

When they replaced the storefront library with a purpose-built building, it became my go-to place for learning, discovery and dreams. While the “new” library has since been replaced, books have remained my companions.

Until chemo that is. Among the many side effects of chemotherapy, one of the worst for me was the inability to read and understand a whole book. I was unable to follow the story through the chapters. It was as if I was reading French… understanding a few words, a simple sentence, but at the end of the paragraph, not quite sure what it all meant.


My book club was all forgiving. It must have been two years before I was able to read a whole book again… and then it was a short, simple story.

This morning I started reading 419 , the 2012 Giller Prize winner by Will Ferguson. It’s almost as if I was a child again in the Seylynn library. It’s a whole new world I can read and understand. It’s good to be back.

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11 Responses to Return to Reading: when chemo side effects subside

  1. Barbara says:

    The world is an enchanted place through your eyes, Rochelle. Thank you for that.


    • Rochelle says:

      Thanks for reading Barb. I’m glad to share my thoughts although I’m surprised to hear my rambling inspires others
      Hope to see you soon.


  2. Lee-Anne E. says:

    That must feel so good:) Glad you’re back.


  3. Mary Louise says:

    Thank you very much Rochelle. Perhaps chemo is partially responsible for my current dilemma with excess food.


    • Rochelle says:

      Thanks for reading Mary Louise. The books are full of how chemo effects us but they haven’t included everything we experience. While I’m sure most of us are glad there are chemo drugs to restore or extend our lives, there’s a way to go before we can grade them A-plus for quality of life.


  4. Mary Louise says:

    PS: Rochelle, I fogot the most important thing….. It is wonderful you are able to enjoy reading again.


  5. Nancy Farran says:

    So glad you wrote this, Rochelle, AND, so glad you were back for this book. I finished it on the plane and it left me reeling. From a comedy writer to this – bravo, Will Ferguson. It makes me doubly happy that you can both enjoy it AND, with this renewed enthusiasm, bring your always great comments to our next book club time together. You continue to inspire me and others. xoxoxo


  6. Noemi Gal-Or says:


    So touching and inspiring to read your story – short in words but encompassing a whole era with a deep personal touch much of which reminds me of mine.

    A special Easter/Passover hug,



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