As a young, queer woman, Catherine Guthrie had worked hard to feel at home in her body. However, after years writing about women’s health and breast cancer, Guthrie is thrust into the role of the patient after a devastating diagnosis at age thirty-eight. At least, she thinks, I know how to fight this.
She was wrong. In one horrifying moment after another, everything that could go wrong does—the surgeon gives her a double mastectomy but misses the cancerous lump, one of the most effective drug treatments fails, and a doctor's error unleashes millions of breast cancer cells into her body.
Flat is Guthrie’s story of how two bouts of breast cancer shook her faith in her body, her relationship, and medicine. Along the way, she challenges the view that breasts are essential to femininity and paramount to a woman’s happiness. Along the way, she traces an intimate portrayal of how cancer reshapes her relationship with Mary, her partner, revealing—in the midst of crisis—a love story.
Filled with candor, vulnerability, and resilience, Guthrie upends the “pink ribbon” narrative in unconventional ways and offers up a unique perspective on womanhood, what it means to be “whole,” and the importance of women advocating for their desires. Flat is a story of how she lost, and then found, the courage to listen to her body.
SubtitleReclaiming My Body from Breast Cancer
AuthorBy Catherine Guthrie
Published4 September 2018
Dimensions6.00 x 9.00in.
About the author
Catherine Guthrie is an award-winning women's health journalist. For the past twenty years, her reporting, essays, and criticism have appeared in dozens of national magazines including Time; O, The Oprah Magazine, Slate; Prevention; and Yoga Journal. She has faced breast cancer twice. She lives near Boston, Massachusetts.
—Angela Palm, author, Riverine: A Memoir from Anywhere but Here
“I thought about this book when I was in traffic, when I woke up in the morning, and in the middle of the night. This story is sometimes terrifying and always compelling. The best compliment a memoirist can receive is for a reader to say, ‘Your book changed the way I view the world.’ Flat did that for me, and it has the potential to do that for many people.”
—Krista Bremer, managing editor, The Sun
“The biggest triumph of Flat is how it carefully upends the breast cancer narrative in smart, surprising ways. Flat is laced with sharp, funny, and thought-provoking insights on how living with breast cancer affects gender, identity, and human relationships. It’s a warm, moving, and fresh tale, told by a writer in the perfect position to share it.”
—Mike Scalise, author, The Brand New Catstrophe
“A veteran magazine writer, Catherine Guthrie shares in Flat the poignant story she couldn’t tell in women’s magazines: not the pink ribbon story, but her personal, hard-fought, disorienting and reorienting story of living with breast cancer. Hers is a voice—candid both in fury and in love—you can trust.”
—Howard Axelrod, author, The Point of Vanishing: A Memoir of Two Years in Solitude
“Flat is a nuanced and original work that tackles every woman’s breast cancer fear head on. Guthrie is a women’s health journalist diagnosed with the very disease she has spent her career trying to elucidate and sidestep. What she does with her diagnosis cuts through our cultural assumptions and leaves me in awe of her courage.
—Susan Gubar, New York Times “Living with Cancer” columnist and author of Memoir of a Debulked Woman: Enduring Ovarian Cancer
“Everyone who goes through breast cancer treatment is brave in their way, but Guthrie challenges and overturns orthodoxies right and left. Her wise, clarion, un-saccharine voice is so, so refreshing. She is a muse for her generation and others to come.”
—Florence Williams, author, Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History
“Flat is a captivating story that will appeal to any intelligent reader forced to deal with the unexpected havoc wreaked by a breast cancer diagnosis. I highly recommend Flat to any woman and her loved ones looking to move through the tumult of cancer."
—Mary Jane Minkin, MD, Yale University School of Medicine, and author