Penelope Williams was born in 1943 and grew up in Carleton Place, Ontario, in the midst of a big family, the Findlays, which at one point took up almost a whole street. She studied at the University of Toronto, lived in Ireland for seven years and has always been involved in writing and editing, since 1982 with her own firm, PMF Editorial Services Inc., in Ottawa.
That Other Place
In 1988 Penelope Williams was told she had breast cancer. And with this pronouncement she found herself flung into a different world, one with a reluctant citizenry and a frightening terrain. That Other Place is an absorbing and utterly candid account of Pennyâ€™s journey in this country.
Each stage of the journey provides an illuminating view on issues such as conventional cancer treatments, research, the mythical cancer personality, cancer shibboleths and holistic mind/body medicine.
This is a story written from a cancer patientâ€™s point of view. The subject is grim, and Penny is unflinching in descrbing the reality of the pain and terror on initial diagnosis and treatment, the whole wrenching process of the change of perceptions, lifestyle and goals. The reader is taken on the roller coaster of emotions experienced in a world knocked out of focus by the blow of sudden, perhaps terminal, illness. But there is also humour sometimes black, sometimes liberating. And there is emphasis on the bonds of support among cancer sufferers, an empathy as important to the healing process as medical treatment.
In writing That Other Place, Penny gained a measure of control over the dragon. She concludes her story with words of honesty and courage, knowing that self-proclaimed cancer survivors lose their impact as role models when they die: "It is enough to say I am here; and here is always the goal, not a milestone to somewehre else."
Cancer is a difficult subject to write about and read about. Penelope Williams has remarkably managed to transform it into a book thats hard to put down...her honesty, her will, and her down right stubbornness make it a rare work of courage.
There are lots of Ive survived cancer books published every year. What separates this one from the herd is a combination of courage and humour, and that its so very well-written.
Penelope Williams...is one of the newest, best reporters from the front lines of the cancer war...[That Other Place] should be required reading for families of women with breast cancer.
That Other Place: A Personal Account of Breast Cancer, is truly that a personal account that hums with Penelope Williams energy and crackles with her lively and acerbic sense of humour.
Penelope Williams is a gifted writer with a keen sense of humour...I found myself wanting to read more of what she has written.
Far from being sad or depressing, [Williams'] easy-to-read style and considerable wit make this book a pleasure to read.
That Other Place is [Williams] personal story, and a fount of information for women who are bewildered by the medical jargon of their disease. It is beautifully and intelligently written. It is funny.
The product of four years of research and writing is an absorbing and candid book which recounts the authors journey in that other place.