Queen's University

Professor edits book about deceased colleague's journey with cancer

Philosophy professor Christine Overall (left) poses with her
friend and colleague Sue Hendler.

Philosophy professor Christine Overall has fulfilled a promise to Queen’s colleague Sue Hendler who taught in the School of Urban and Regional Planning. She has published a book about her friend’s journey while living with breast cancer. Dr. Hendler lost her battle with cancer Sept. 14, 2009 at age 49.

She wrote a series of columns in the Kingston Whig-Standard about her experiences with breast cancer. Her last column appeared posthumously on Sept. 18, 2009. Dr. Overall promised her friend that she would ensure the columns and other unpublished work by Dr. Hendler on living with cancer would appear in the form of a book.

“Writing about her struggle was a way for Sue to come to terms with the experience, as well as a way to educate others who were going through a similar challenge,” says Dr. Overall. “The process of putting the book together was fascinating. I learned so much about Sue while going over her old and unpublished columns – it was as if she was still alive and was speaking to me through her articles."

Dr. Overall couldn’t start the project until about eight months after her friend passed away because it was too painful to read about her struggles. She soon realized it was a story that had to be told and eventually it became a powerful and moving experience.

There is a lot of hope at the beginning of her journey. As the disease gets worse, Dr. Handler chronicles undergoing chemotherapy and enrolling in a clinical drug trial. As her condition worsens, she writes a bucket list, discusses her legacy and talks about her feelings of anger and the importance of love.

Dying in Public: Living with Metastatic Breast Cancer is available at the Queen’s Campus Bookstore, Novel Idea (on Princess Street) and on Amazon.com.

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Last updated at 4:16 pm EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
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