Near­ly Depart­ed: Adven­tures in Loss, Can­cer and Oth­er Inconveniences

  • From the Publisher
September 1, 2023

By the time she was thir­ty, Gila Pfef­fer was the old­est liv­ing mem­ber of her fam­i­ly, hav­ing lost both par­ents to can­cer. She under­went genet­ic test­ing and after learn­ing she car­ried the BRCA1 gene, decid­ed to have a dou­ble mas­tec­to­my. That choice saved her life.

Set against Gila’s Ortho­dox Jew­ish upbring­ing, this mem­oir fol­lows her jour­ney to break the cycle of ear­ly death in her fam­i­ly. After becom­ing a reluc­tant expert on sit­ting shi­va, she grows up, falls in love, and becomes a moth­er, before her life is derailed yet again.

Her dou­ble mas­tec­to­my reveals can­cer already grow­ing in one breast. After endur­ing eight rounds of chemo and the removal of her ovaries, she takes her last-ever dip in the mik­vah as a bald, menopausal thir­ty-five-year-old moth­er of four. Drenched in Gila’s dark humor, Near­ly Depart­ed is her sto­ry of thriv­ing against the odds, lean­ing into faith, and leav­ing a bet­ter lega­cy for her chil­dren than the one she inherited.

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