Book review: ‘Everybody’s Got Something’ by Robin Roberts

Everybody's Got SomethingTelevision newscaster Robin Roberts has had her share of struggles. Treated for breast cancer in 2007, the “Good Morning America” co-anchor expected to make a full recovery and put her fight behind her . . . until five years later, when she learned she would need a life-saving bone marrow transplant for myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), a rare blood disorder — a side effect from her initial cancer treatment.

Who could blame someone for balking, for shrinking, for retreating inward . . . for asking a distraught “Why me?” To hear Robin tell it, though she faced uncertainty and doubt and did occasionally rail against her situation, she tried to focus on healing.

And Robin is a fighter.

More inspirational than informational, Roberts’ Everybody’s Got Something is her recollection of where she was before, during and after her 2012 transplant — and reads as a “thank you” to the friends, family, coworkers and viewers who bolstered her during a tremendously difficult time.

As she prepares for her transplant and its required isolation, Robin must also come to grips with another pain: the grief of losing her beloved mother, Lucimarian. The love shared between her close-knit family — including Sally-Ann, her bone marrow donor — is the backbone of Robin’s story, and many chapters feature snippets of childhood and the many lessons her mother and father shared with their children.

Though Everybody’s Got Something lacked some of the candor I’d expect given Robin’s difficult situation, I respect her so much as a person and appreciate that she wanted to focus on the positives: the bond her illness further cemented with her family and girlfriend, Amber; the overwhelming, soul-restoring support she received from colleagues, friends and viewers; the strong faith that got her through the darkest of her days.

Robin’s struggles seem to have been buffed clean, smoothed of their most jagged edges — but this is her story. If it’s varnished, I understand . . . and appreciate that, more than anything, Everybody’s Got Something — a popular saying with her mother — is exactly what it purports to be: a reminder that we all face challenges, but need not be defined by them. Readers facing health crises may find it especially comforting.

If you like Robin? Well, you’ll like her book. She’s sincere and humble — and just a darn likeable person. I finished the memoir grateful for her returning strength and hopeful that the future will be a bright one.


3 out of 5

Pub: April 22, 2014 • GoodreadsLibraryThingAmazonAuthor on Twitter
Audio copy borrowed from local library


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Prescription: balloon ride

Balloons


I feel like I should be talking about Christmas, but all I’m thinking about are balloons.

It’s been seven months since Spencer and I sailed above Napa Valley in a hot air balloon — for, like, 45 minutes. Total. But those 45 minutes were absolutely life-affirming, and if I’d ever had any doubt that sometimes serenity can be found in the oddest of places? That would be it.

Eh, I’m dealing with some not-so-fun health issues at the moment. Nothing serious, don’t worry, but it’s jarring to find myself making medical appointments and getting tests and looking up insurance stuff. Filing claims — and realizing that I am the “policy holder.” It makes me feel both impossibly adult and impossibly young. I keep waiting for my organized, efficient and awesome mom to swoop in and handle all this for me, you know?

Sucks growing up.

I realize I’m pretty fortunate to never have had a brush with medical problems before — aside from some carpal stuff from too much crochet and piano in my youth. Never broke a bone, never stayed in a hospital. Aside from a few falls off the ol’ bike and the skinned knees that accompany them, I graduated from youth without any major setbacks.

Though I will be A-OK in no time, I feel weird and a little scared — because I need to start making some major life changes. That’s what’s shaken me up, I think — not even the problem itself, but what it means. Now in my late twenties, my body’s youthful exuberance is no longer something I can take for granted. When I talked to my friend Brandon about my current troubles, he smiled sympathetically. “You’ll be okay,” he said. “It happens. It’s just, you know, part of getting older.”

Getting older.

I won’t just “bounce back” from illnesses. Poor diet choices won’t just . . . melt away, dissolved by walks around campus or the playground. I mean, I’ve gained a significant amount of weight since college. Forty pounds, actually. Forty pounds.

Wow.

So: balloons! I return to balloons. They’re colorful. They make me happy. They’re something to remind me of all the fun life has to offer — the unexpected adventures; the good times and moments of Zen. Riding in that balloon with Spencer was quite Zen for me — so much so that I have a big print of the balloons next to my desk. I look at it often, especially when I’m feeling less-than-sparkly, and I remember.

What it was like to drift with no particular destination — and no control over how you’ll get there.

And I know I’ll feel that warm sun on my face again.


Colorful balloon


Feed a fever, starve a cold

chicken_soupSo I’m sick again. After getting over a nasty flu a few weekends ago, I woke up yesterday morning with a seriously scratchy throat, a terrible headache and a stuffy nose. Ah, cold season! Can there be anything more exciting?

And what did I do today? I went out and ate spaghetti for lunch. After eating a very light dinner last night and “sleeping” in a state of delirium from my cold medicine and apparent insomnia, I was actually starving by lunchtime.

But mid-bite, that old adage came back to haunt me . . .

Feed a fever, starve a cold.

I asked Palmer if he thought there was anything truth to it, and we both agreed that we had no idea! It’s an old wives’ tale, to be sure, but I’d never actually heard anyone discuss whether or not we should actually starve ourselves when we’re ill.

spaghettiThat doesn’t really seem like a good idea — I know that when you’re sick and not eating well, your body is deprived of nutrients and electrolytes and all those… important things. And dehydration is not your friend. But I needed to know the answer to this, of course, since I’m alternating between eating next to nothing and stuffing my face!

And, of course, the answer to whether or not you should “feed a fever, starve a cold” is… false! Big time false. It’s important to keep up your energy and not get dehydrated while you’re ill — you need those nutrients to help your body get rid of the virus.

So pig out! I have my spaghetti leftovers waiting patiently in the community fridge. And hopefully the magic sauce will have restorative powers to un-cloud my head in no time!