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 Penny’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 patient’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."