A Hole in My Genes
Dr Jodie Fleming is a Clinical & Health Psychologist practicing in South West Victoria. Jodie once specialised in the field of psycho-oncology - the human side of cancer. In 2010 at the age of thirty-seven, she receives the terrifying news that she has two primary breast cancers. This becomes a frightening opportunity to practice what she preaches.
The doctor becomes the patient.
Having cared for her husband with testicular cancer eight years earlier and dedicating her career to helping others with cancer, Jodie understands the role of caregiver both on a personal and professional level. The role of patient, however is another matter. The diagnosis comes exactly one month after the end of her marriage. What ensues is the epitome of complicated grief and a foray into the world of cancer from the other side of the desk.
Necessity fills her life with surgeries, chemotherapy, and genetic counselling. She relocates interstate to her parents’ home in country Victoria for a healthy dose of family dysfunction. Genetic testing and a prophylactic hysterectomy adds salt to the open wound of infertility and viciously rubs it in. With no family history of breast cancer, Jodie's family, including her younger sister Kim, confronts the news that Jodie carries the BRCA1 genetic mutation.
Forced to draw upon the psychological strategies she’d previously taught her clients, Jodie discovers that many are ineffective. She revisits many of her sessions with clients, reflecting on the invaluable life lessons each one offers: Sarah, the thirty-six-year-old mother diagnosed with terminal breast cancer who urges Jodie to work with her family to prepare them for her death; Alex, a sixteen-year-old dying from brain cancer who teaches Jodie the meaning of happiness; and Michael, the man who should be retiring to enjoy his dream home with his family but instead finds himself in the terminal stages of prostate cancer.
Jodie also meets Sam, a thirty-nine-year-old mother of three, diagnosed with breast cancer at the same time. Together, they forge a bond based on their common diagnoses and similar treatment pathway, sharing information and supporting one another until Sam loses her battle.
Recovered, and approaching her fortieth birthday, Jodie ventures again into the world of love daring to face the challenges that her new post-cancer body brings. She braves the realm of online dating to meet Rick and his children who, for a short time, provide Jodie with the hope that she has not missed out on having the family she covets.
Starting from scratch, Jodie develops her own toolkit to conquer the psychological minefield of cancer, grief and loss, infertility and breast reconstruction. Interspersed throughout are letters she writes to her grandmother . . . her Nan.
Jodie learns more from her own journey than she ever does, or could, from her studies.
This is that journey from a terrifying diagnosis to a cancer free future.
Early Reviews for A Hole in My Genes
I highly recommend everyone read this book. You will experience a variety of emotions whilst reading it and become intensely aware of the need to be grateful and cherish what you have in life. A real page turner that captivated me, motivated me, inspired me and left my heart full.
After knowing Jodie for a few years now on a professional level, I was aware Jodie had battled breast cancer, but I did not know about half of the things she had endured. This honest, humorous, inspirational account of her experience with cancer and the adversities that arrived with a horrible illness is a true testament of Jodie’s determination and fight. This raw account proves that no one is perfect, even psychologists!
I started reading it last night & finished it today. I couldn't stop! It was incredible. So real & raw. So brilliant to read about it from not only a young woman’s perspective, but also as a health professional. I am a nurse and often feel like I should know how to 'fix' things when they happen to me or those close to me. It's hard to remember to just be the patient sometimes & that is ok to not have all the answers. I thought it flowed really well, it was easy to read & understand with no big medical or technical jargon. I also felt like the detail was perfect, I felt like I was sitting in the psychologist’s office etc with you. I especially loved the bits how you were writing to your nan, it felt really personal (clearly it is), but makes it all the more real!
Lauren Hart, Registered Nurse
A hole in my genes is a real-life story about a young, married, successful psychologist who has her life turned upside down when the unpredictable happens and she receives a terrifying diagnosis whilst her marriage is breaking down.
The book takes you thru the naivety, fear, the shock, the grief of experiencing all that this means and the friendship, love and support that stands out of the darkness.
Jodie does a beautiful job in sharing transparently the good, the bad and the ugly of her journey. Her sense of humour shines thru at times bringing lightness and chuckles to a story of loss, learning and of conquering of life.
I devoured the book in a few days. I laughed at unpredictable moments, I cried often and I also learnt a lot as Jodie shares her wisdom on what helped, on what didn't and on how to navigate treatment and life after a diagnosis of cancer.
This book is for anyone who is going thru treatment or has a loved one who is. An incredibly emotional, informative and inspiring read packed with honesty, practical strategies and what to expect. I absolutely loved it.
Dr Susanna Zito, Clinical Psychologist
Thank you for letting me feel just a little bit of what your journey has been like for you. It truly was a privilege for me that you were brave and trusting enough to share your story.
You’re story is fascinating, complicated, funny and so so inspiring. Your clients are very lucky to have your support and understanding.
I have recently requested to engage in more cancer care work and am meeting a beautiful lady with lung cancer tomorrow. Your memoir has given me so much more of an insight than any treatment guidelines have.
Jodi Wittenberg, Provisional Psychologist
This was the most beautifully honest and vulnerable account of your amazing journey. I laughed. I cried. My heart ached for the grief and pain you went through. So many words are going through my mind as I write this but courage is one that stands out. Courage to face this awful disease. Courage to help others. Courage to write this memoir. I could only imagine the emotions that come with not only writing but sharing such a personal part of yourself. And I hope that it has been another step on your journey of healing and growth. You are an inspiration to me, not only as a psychologist but as a person.
Elli Byron, Psychologist
And so with an "I want to go to NYC sigh" and bittersweet smile - I've finished. It's beautiful Jode - enjoyable like Hannah Gadsbys "Nanette" is enjoyable. You laugh, you cry, you swear and quietly nod along in agreement to those parts that resonate. Because it's not "just" a story about cancer survival really is it? Its about grief and loss, relationships, societal vs personal values , soul searching, health, wellbeing, fear, mortality and why the superficial "positive thinking" is a bullshit blame game.
I loved it. Keep dancing on tables honey xo
Rachele Sloane, Student Wellbeing Coordinator
Well - I am totally impressed. I read the book in a single sitting (pretty much) and found it a beautiful and accessible explanation of the process of being unwell, and all of the sequale of such. I have been working in oncology for the past twelve years, and in that time I have met hundreds, if not thousands of people who become acquainted with the world of uncertainty, panic, and terror that comes with a cancer diagnosis. Jodie has provided an intimate and beautiful insight into what it means to be thrown into the swell of this, to be held under the water and have moments of feeling that she would never find the surface again. I imagine that Jodie’s words, and the sharing of the strategies that have worked for her will mean that the people who pick up “A Hole in My Genes” will find comfort and a gentle nudge toward feeling much more understood.
Dr Toni Lindsay, Clinical & Health Psychologist and Author of Cancer, Sex, Drugs and Death A Clinician Guide to the Psychological Management of Young People with Cancer
Jodie, thank you for writing ‘A Hole in My Genes’ with such honesty and generosity of spirit. Your warm, engaging writing style never falters, even when allowing us to witness your darkest moments. There’s plenty of humour in your book too, and I often laughed out loud. It’s a celebration of family, friendship, strength, dignity, and hope. Your experience during diagnosis and treatment highlights the need for holistic, individualised and integrated care for each person diagnosed with cancer. On any given day, while the rest of us live our busy lives, people are facing the unimaginable. I feel I’m now better informed about the reality of cancer treatment, and therefore better able to support friends and family dealing with this life changing experience. So often we assume that once treatment finishes life just returns to ‘normal’, and I thank you for eloquently illuminating not just the physical challenges, but the emotional and psychological impacts extending well beyond the end of treatment. There’s much hope that continued research will lead to more effective, less aggressive treatment of cancer. Voices like yours are so important in raising public awareness so that we can all become advocates for change.
If I had the time I would have devoured this book in a single day!
I was completely enthralled in Jodie’s world - romantic world, social world, medical world and most of all, her emotional world and how she deals with the unfairness and unpredictability of supposedly perfectly planned life.
Although this is a book about breast cancer, I think ultimately, it is a relatable story about resilience, love and real human spirit.
Tracy van Rooy
Are you supporting someone living with cancer? A loved one? A patient? A client? If so, you need to read this book.
‘A Hole in my Genes’ will give you great insight into the experiences of a person living with cancer, battling through treatment and trying to maintain their sense of self amidst an avalanche of impositions. Jodie masterfully weaves these lessons through her story to help you to understand what they are experiencing, their fears and hopes and how to support them. And if you are (or have been) living with cancer yourself and are seeking someone to connect with who genuinely understands the challenges, fears and isolation, you will find a companion as you read through Jodie’s story.
‘A Hole in my Genes’ will give hope, insight and validation to patients, survivors, loved ones and professionals.
Tasha Broomhall, Director and lead facilitator for Blooming Minds Mental Health and Wellbeing and author of Bloom! Mental Health & Wellbeing.
Follow this link to read the author interview for A Hole in My Genes for Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/interview/JodieFleming
To pre-order your eBook version of A Hole in My Genes via Amazon, for the heavilty discounted price of $5.99 US, follow this link: A Hole in My Genes pre-order.
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