© 2024 KMUW
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Stay tuned to KMUW and NPR for the latest developments from the Republican National Convention.

Chronicling Cancer, In Graphic Form

Miriam Engelberg was 43 when she was diagnosed with cancer.
Miriam Engelberg was 43 when she was diagnosed with cancer.

People whose lives have been disrupted by cancer are using graphic novels to tell their stories.

In Mom's Cancer, Brian Fies tells the story of his mother's struggle with metastatic lung cancer, while Miriam Engelberg chronicles her own breast cancer in Cancer Made Me a Shallower Person: A Memoir in Comics.

Fies' mother was diagnosed with lung cancer that spread to her brain. For Engelberg, news of her breast cancer came in 2001, when she was 43 — and her son was just 4 years old.

The two have very different artistic styles, but they share a brutally honest approach to their subject.

And both say they've found drawings to be highly effective for distilling meaning, humor and sadness.

"Somehow in the cartoon form, panel by panel, the absurdist part of this whole experience comes out in a way that it wouldn't if I were just writing an essay," says Engelberg.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.


As special correspondent and guest host of NPR's news programs, Melissa Block brings her signature combination of warmth and incisive reporting. Her work over the decades has earned her journalism's highest honors, and has made her one of NPR's most familiar and beloved voices.