This memoir is the superbly written story of Amanda Bennett and her husband Terence Foley from the time they met in Peking (correct spelling at the time), China until Terence's death more than 20 years later from cancer. It is also the story of how she went back through all the records with a colleague after Terence died, trying to figure out what happened and what it all cost, while she was either in denial or in a blur as they tried desperately to buy him more time.
Given the topic, this could be extremely sad and painful to read, but she includes wonderful descriptions of the China they knew, the U.S. cities they lived in, Terence's quirky habits and hilarious ways, their delight in their children, and her career as a reporter then newspaper editor. As a result, the book isn't at all depressing. I was moved by the way she told about his life and his death; she loved him so much.
I loved their personal story, but I think the account of his medical history and its costs should be required reading for politicians who have the power to do something about our health care system. (Party politics be damned for a change.) Bennett had four different insurance companies during the time her husband was ill when she was selected for ever better editorial positions in different parts of the country. At the end she was the editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer, which oddly enough was dying at the same time that her husband was dying. She was grateful that she always had good health coverage. That saved her from worrying about confusing invoices at the same time her husband was going through pharmaceutical studies for new medications and having countless tests.
Afterward, for six months she and her colleague tried to make sense of all the paperwork. She traveled across the country talking to the different doctors they had seen, and tried to figure out who all those doctors and labs and other entities were that had billed her insurance company too. Her conclusions are well worth reading; she's a journalist after all and researched this just as she would any other important story. There was a personal question to answer as well - had she pushed him too hard to try to live? Was that an additional burden she put on him?
I was engrossed in this book from page one to the end. I greatly admire her strength, her adaptability in the face of countless problems that would flatten many people, and her journalistic abilities. I'm very glad she wrote this book and hope it will reach people all across this country.