When Catherine is diagnosed with acute leukemia, a deadly form of cancer that attacks the immune system, her life is turned upside down. Young and previously healthy, she now finds herself catapulted into the world of the seriously ill--constantly testing and waiting for results, undergoing endless medical treatments, learning to accept a changing body, communicating with a medical team, and relying on the support of her partner, family, and friends.
A professional illustrator, Catherine decides to tell the story of her disease in this graphic novel, and she does so with great sincerity, humor, and rare lucidity. We accompany her though the waiting, the doubts, the fears, and the tears--but also the laughter, the love, and the strong will to live.
Rich in emotion, lighthearted, and profound, Down to the Bone is a powerful book.
PUBLISHERS WEEKLY (STARRED) -- Corsican artist Pioli records her own leukemia treatment in this gorgeous graphic memoir, published posthumously. After months of pain due to sciatica, which treatments fail to improve, Catherine checks in to a hospital for further tests in 2014. When the doctors discover she has acute lymphocytic leukemia, she's rushed to chemotherapy. She explains the science behind the disease and treatment (including a concise explanation on preserving her ovary) while also detailing the experiences of bored isolation, drastic weight loss, and cravings for forbidden foods. Treatment progresses, but not as well as doctors would like, leaving Catherine in limbo until they green-light her brother's bone marrow transplant. Tender moments with her partner Sébastien mingle with humor, like her whimsical haircuts and cheeky reliance on her "leukemia card" to avoid tasks. Pioli places her stylized, full-color characters in lightly outlined backgrounds. Her skills in rendering emotional states and medical symptoms made visible on the page is particularly impressive. Blending precise and educational details about the medicine (and its limits) for cancer care with tender personal vignettes, the work has potential to humanize patient care for practitioners as well as add to the "cancer memoir" genre. It's a stunning example of what graphic medicine can do. (Dec.)