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cover of book photo of Karen Propp
About the book:

In Sickness & In Health:
A Love Story
by Karen Propp

(from the book jacket)

Karen's poetic command of language and her mature confrontation of the realities of life, love and long-term marriage make this memoir unusually forceful. The pall of [husband] Sam's first wife's death from cancer, the difficult conception of Karen's and Sam's child, and Sam's seven years of radiation therapy hang over them like an ever-present dark cloud. While cancer memoirs often end with either the patient's death or joyous restoration to pre-cancer existence, here life is saved, but many failed attempts to regain potency (Viagra, a clumsy pump contraption, injections) are described in painful detail. Yet Karen Propp delivers a triumphant story, honestly depicting her adaptation to change and to the discovery of love and resilience's unexpected depths.
Marriage sometimes seems a shaky proposition at best, particularly when the honeymoon fades to reality. For Karen Propp, reality means caring for a husband who is locked in a bitter struggle with prostate cancer. In this intimate portrait of a woman torn between her own strong desires and the demands of a young son and an ailing husband, love emerges as the ultimate -- and maybe the only -- answer to the nagging questions raised by the physical infirmity of a spouse.

Here is the true story of Karen and Sam, partners in life, for life. But it wasn't always that way. Before they met, Karen had been attracted to la vie boheme: poring over poetry, giving in to her passions, living for the moment. Sam, following a strict Jewish upbringing, found his calling, his comfort, in numbers and logic. Drawn to each other in a mating dance that proceeds in fits and starts, the two finally tie the knot; then, between bouts of agonizing uncertainty brought on by Sam's volatile condition, comes the birth of little Isaac, a blessing in the midst of the confusion. And yet how can any couple survive the stress of never-ending medical tests, outrageously invasive treatments, and the constant fear of recurrence?

In Sickness and in Health plumbs the sexual and emotional depths of a relationship threatened by the specter of illness. It is, too, a surprisingly candid exploration of the complex dynamics that can affect any marriage. This daring work shows, with unforgettable clarity, how a woman is truly transformed in body and soul by the experiences and, finally, by the love that she shares with those around her.


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