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I Decided To Be That Voice

Author Interview
Katie Weber Author Interview

Living in the Gray is your personal story about surviving cancer and what life now looks like for you day to day. Why was this an important book for you to write?

The importance of this book for me was twofold: 1) I wanted to provide something for others, so they know they’re not alone; and 2) It gave me somewhere to express, in an authentic voice, everything I’m dealing with. I love to read so when everything went down, I was just looking for something by a younger-ish person that I could relate to. Everything I could find was written by someone older who had already lived most of their life, or who was really optimistic about “pulling through” and “never giving up”. Those are important messages, but I wanted something more real. When I didn’t find that, I decided to be that voice.

Speaking of voice, one thing I love about writing is that it allows me to say whatever I want to say and in whatever way I want to say it. As I discuss in this book, I have facial paralysis, which greatly affects my speech, and I think surgery did something to my vocal chords, so my speech is very slow and hard to understand. Part of my persona before was adding (often snide) comments to a conversation, and talking a lot (too much?). Since I can’t do that anymore, writing creates an outlet for me to exercise that part of myself. Writing this book gave me the chance to say some of the things I’m already thinking about.

What were some ideas that were important for you to share in this book?

Mainly that I think it’s okay to be sad or angry, but that there CAN be some good things in all that sadness. Some days, it’s enough. Some days, it’s not. I also think so many people look at cancer survival as inspiring or as making you a better person, so it can make you feel bad when you’re not the 1% that comes out unscathed or when you just want to be sad and upset about all of the things cancer takes away. I spend so much time beating myself up, like “You should be grateful, there are people without access to clean water!” and it’s like, yes, sure, but suffering is suffering is suffering.

Another important idea for me is this idea of choice. Choice is a very big deal in the cancer community, because cancer takes away so much of your agency. There are so many choices I can’t make, but I CAN choose what to think or how to say something to another person. I don’t always make the BEST choice (just ask my husband), but it’s nice to know that I do have control over that. So much of life is out of our control, it’s important to recognize what we DO own and what we CAN change.

What is a common misconception you feel people have about living with cancer?

I think a lot of people think of it as this sort of “one and done” thing. Like, you get cancer. You go through surgery/treatment. You die, they get rid of it, or you go into remission. You’re done. But it doesn’t always work like that. It’s not always cut and dry, and what’s acute for some people can be chronic for others.

The other thing I think people think and talk about the most is the physical stuff: the hair loss, the nausea, the exhaustion. I never quite know how to answer the question “So, how do you feel?” Well, what do you mean? Cause physically, I feel fine. But mentally, not so much. I don’t think enough is said about the mental effects of cancer.

What do you hope is one thing readers take away from your story?

Life can be messy, but it can also be beautiful. You’ve just got to know where to look and be willing to pivot.

Author Links: Amazon | GoodReads | Website

When Katie Weber was 23, she was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor. After surgery and treatment, she seemed good to go—until a relapse at 28 sent her life into a spin and forced her to forge a new identity and give up many of her dreams.

This is a cancer memoir, because it’s about and written by a young woman who gets cancer, but it’s so much more than that. In many ways, cancer causes us to ask all of the same questions about life any of us ask, but at a much faster rate. Questions about meaning and existence that just don’t seem to have clear answers. Katie especially lives in the gray right now, but really, we all do.

In Living in the Gray by Katie Weber, we learn that the gray is something we all need to be comfortable with, because uncertainty is the only thing we can ever be certain of.

Living in the Gray

Living in the Grey by Katie Weber is an emotionally-resonant memoir that follows Katie Weber. She has everything going for her, a great upbringing and an excellent education, she is young and healthy, but all of that is shattered when she is diagnosed with cancer at 23. After a heroic battle and being cancer-free for five years, she starts putting the pieces of her life back together. But then she relapses. With her identity and dreams shattered, Katie allows readers to follow her emotional journey, struggles, and fight for life.

Katie Weber shares her experiences in a candid and unfiltered way that feels raw, emotional, approachable, and uplifting. We learn about her challenges, but we also see how she manages to move forward.

Reading about Katie’s life after battling cancer and now in remission is an eye-opening read. There are many things that the author tells readers that I would never have thought about. Things people with cancer face, ask themselves, and fear. I was especially moved by seeing how much it affects your emotions and will to live. I wasn’t aware that the author suffered from double vision, inability to stand on her own, having bad hearing, and terrible memory. Her home has been modified to help her get around with little assistance from her husband. These are the day-to-day things that people with cancer face. They seem prosaic, but all these small things add up to something that feels daunting, and I appreciated how those challenges are shared and explored in this memoir.

Throughout the author’s book, she mentions that it is hard not to sound upset with everything she is dealing with and she should be grateful to be alive, but if I were in her shoes, I would feel the exact same way. I give praise to Katie for finding an outlet through writing. I also enjoyed the pieces of her blog she shares with readers. Katie also brings to light how the pandemic affected her because she was out of contact with the world and felt even more lonely.

Living in the Grey is an insightful, touching, and encouraging memoir that I highly recommend to readers who might be battling cancer or anyone who wants to learn more about the fight and see firsthand what those with cancer face. Katie Weber shares her personal experience, and readers get an up close look into her life and thoughts.

Pages: 68 | ISBN: 1639883851

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