In Sick­ness: A Memoir

  • From the Publisher
September 1, 2021

In 2008, pio­neer­ing can­cer sci­en­tist and Har­vard pro­fes­sor Jane Weeks drew her Jew­ish hus­band and fel­low Har­vard oncol­o­gist, Bar­rett Rollins, into a shared delu­sion — a folie à deux — that would cul­mi­nate five years lat­er in her shock­ing death. As they went about their pub­lic roles as author­i­ties on can­cer treat­ment, Rollins helped his wife con­tin­ue to con­ceal the breast can­cer she’d been hid­ing from him for years. Their delu­sion, that Weeks was healthy and can­cer-free, was bro­ken at last by a med­ical emer­gency that revealed the truth and led to their final, hon­est year together.

Ren­dered with the atten­tion to detail one would expect from a world famous sci­en­tist and schol­ar reveal­ing his most close­ly guard­ed secret, In Sick­ness is borne of Dr. Rollins’s need for under­stand­ing and, per­haps, judg­ment. This Bergmanesque, Har­vard hos­pi­tal-set love sto­ry is a 21st-cen­tu­ry study of inti­ma­cy, moral­i­ty, and hor­ror as the charis­mat­ic Weeks suc­cumbs to her ill­ness, and Rollins sto­ical­ly acqui­esces to his wife’s demands until her pass­ing frees him from every­thing except his implaca­ble Jew­ish conscience.

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