Sunday, January 12, 2020

Beth Cramer on Dying to Live (Her Cancer Memoir - Why Didn't I Notice Her Before?)

In this interview, Beth Cramer talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by, about her book, Why Didn't I Notice Her Before? A Memoir about Dying to Live.

“I don’t wanna do anything I don’t wanna do anymore.” ~Beth Cramer

Beth admits that she’s a storyteller, and film became a medium of choice. Being an editor gave her the leeway to learn not only about filming but also how to tell stories. Crafting commercials was one way for her to do so, as she needed to tell a story within thirty seconds. “I’ve always wanted to pull at the heartstrings,” she remarks. She also created a documentary on single women who wanted to raise children without a partner, and one of the reasons she set up Brain Films was to set up a brand for herself in the filming industry.

Beth remarks that she had actually been trying to write a novel on a woman with cancer, and had been finding it difficult to move the story forward when she was diagnosed with Stage 4 ovarian cancer, when she came in for treatment for heartburn in 2017. “Ovarian cancer is called a silent killer for a reason,” Beth notes, as this type of cancer is mistaken for such benign conditions as bloated bellies (which was one of Beth’s conditions), and there is no diagnostic tool to determine its presence. Beth’s family has, additionally, had no history of cancer, which made the diagnosis all that more surprising. The cancer started in her fallopian tubes and had spread to her chest, neck and lymph nodes at the time she was diagnosed.

Beth notes that she had been suffering from anxiety since 2010, and the diagnosis offered her clarity and gave her an opportunity to live in the moment. Beth mentioned that she had close family ties, and that support was important where dealing with her condition was concerned. She eventually got most of her treatments in Washington, D.C., where her sisters and her mother lived, whereas she lives in New York with her family; and doing so made things a lot easier for her.

Beth remarks that her mother was “astounded” that she wrote a book that was “so raw,” as Beth is the most reserved of her daughters, and she notes that she had a lot of things she needed to overcome to essentially “target” her own cancer. She also noted how “funny” it was to use “the cancer card,” as it’s called, in various ways, which stems from being honest about the situation she found herself in, such as going into a hot yoga class while wearing a wig. Beth notes that such moments can be painful as well as comical, and remarks that her book isn’t intended to be a depressing book or a clinical book. She also remarks that, while cancer is the catalyst for a lot of the stories she wrote about, those stories are personal but also ones which a lot of people can relate to, which gives her book its appeal. “It’s about how we navigate this crazy world with crazy minds,” she remarks, adding that her book isn’t clinical or medical in nature.

Being released from the trauma that caused her anxiety was one of the things she got out of being diagnosed with cancer, and perhaps the biggest lesson she got was that things happen for a reason. She also remarks that she has not denied herself that which feels good for her, such as the foods she likes. Beth admits that she had always been idealistic and determined, prior to her diagnosis. “There was not a lot of self-kindness there,” she notes, and her diagnosis that she had cancer silenced her inner self-critic, as such concerns didn’t matter anymore. “I could see the essence of myself again,” she remarks, enabling her to live closer to her truth.

“Don’t second-guess yourself or your instincts,” Beth advises. “Go for it, and pay attention to the signs and try to laugh.”

Purchase from Amazon: 
Why Didn't I Notice Her Before? A Memoir about Dying to Live by Beth Cramer

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