A Series of Catastrophes & Miracles

A Series of Catastrophes & Miracles

A True Story of Love, Science, and Cancer

Book - 2016
Average Rating:
Rate this:
"A wry, witty account of what it is like to face death--and be restored to life. After being diagnosed in her early 40s with metastatic melanoma--a "rapidly fatal" form of cancer--journalist and mother of two Mary Elizabeth Williams finds herself in a race against the clock. She takes a once-in-a-lifetime chance and joins a clinical trial for immunotherapy, a revolutionary drug regimen that trains the body to vanquish malignant cells. Astonishingly, her cancer disappears entirely in just a few weeks. But at the same time, her best friend embarks on a cancer journey of her own--with very different results. Williams's experiences as a patient and a medical test subject reveal with stark honesty what it takes to weather disease, the extraordinary new developments that are rewriting the rules of science--and the healing power of human connection"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: Washington, D.C. : National Geographic, [2016]
ISBN: 9781426216336
Call Number: 362.19699 W7253s 2016
Characteristics: 304 pages ; 24 cm


From Library Staff

A wickedly funny and heartbreaking personal story written by a journalist about scientific breakthroughs, dumb luck and cruel fates when best friends are diagnosed with cancer.

From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Jan 18, 2018

Painfully honest, this book details the author's trial by cancer - hers, her father-in-law, a close friend, and various other folks she meets along the way. A lucky woman (oh, yeah, if having cancer is lucky), she was in the right place at the right time to get into a clinical trial that worked a miracle for her. She, however, did not escape undamaged, but considering how it could have turned out, she won the lottery.
In telling her story, you get a glimpse into the world of clinical trials, experimental medicine, the ups and downs of being a person with cancer. If you didn't know how many cancers and how many ways the human body can sabotage itself, you will after this read.
The big take-away -- advocate for yourself, get educated, find a doctor that will work hard for you but do not let them make all the decisions, do not go "gentle into that dark night", and when cancer steals the life from someone, do not judge them that they didn't try hard enough, that they lost the battle.
Don't read this book if you just lost someone to cancer -- it isn't easy reading at times, but it is an inspiring and ultimately hopeful story. For those who are facing this particular disaster, this book can offer hope and ideas.

Sep 23, 2016

This book is everything the title says, and more: a real page-turner about being part of a clinical trial and the random nature of fate.

ChristchurchLib Jul 24, 2016

In 2010, after journalist Mary Elizabeth Williams received a diagnosis of malignant melanoma and was given six months to live, she enrolled in a clinical trial that offered cutting-edge immunotherapy. Surprisingly, she appeared cancer free after 12 weeks, and remains healthy in 2016. In her candid and detailed memoir, Williams relates the physical and emotional trauma of her disease and treatment, employing an amusing, anecdotal style that reads almost like a novel.


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at MCL

To Top