A precise, moving, and expertly crafted remembrance.
A memoir of one Pennsylvania man’s cancer struggle and how it transformed his relationships with his loved ones.
Around 2012, after experiencing strange symptoms that caused his face to swell and vision to blur, Zervanos soon found himself entangled in a medical mystery. Doctors struggled to figure out what caused an unprecedented and life-threatening blockage in the author’s superior vena cava (“the most important vein in the body”). It was a situation that made Zervanos—a husband, father, and teacher—confront his mortality and reassess his relationship with everything, and everyone, in his life.
Sounds like a downer but Bala Cynwyd author Jim Zervanos’ new memoir is actually a great read: a suspenseful, bravely honest and ultimately hopeful account of his battle with a disease that stumped Penn Medicine’s brightest minds and strained his marriage. The story was sharpened by Devon’s master of memoir, Beth Kephart, so you know the words sing and the narrative sails along.
In many Greek households, even today, mentioning the word ‘cancer’ is still taboo. It might be whispered or called “the bad disease,” so it is rare to find Greeks or Greek-Americans openly sharing stories of survival that can inspire people regardless of their health status, since everyone’s life has been touched by cancer whether they know someone who battled it or have gone through it themselves.
TNH’s Year in Books, Favorite Fiction and Non-Fiction
As 2022 draws to a close, The National Herald looks back at some of the most fascinating books of the year. Among the year’s top selections, books inspired by the Greek myths captured the imagination while non-fiction works offered thought-provoking insights.
Reviewed by Melanie Kennedy for Readers' Favorite
"If I could give the book ten stars, I wouldn’t hesitate. That Time I Got Cancer is truly a powerful book."
Jim Zervanos tells his amazing but true story about his harrowing battle with cancer. His cancer, unlike anything any of his doctors has ever seen, took a grip on the major veins to his heart and nearly cut off his blood supply.
Throughout all of this, Jim strengthened his relationship with his family. He tells his remarkable but true story with emotion and anecdotes that make this story relatable and readable.
Zervanos’ memoir takes readers on the intimate journey of his 2011 cancer diagnosis and recovery, detailing how his support system enabled him to “experience joy even in desperate times.
Jim Zervanos was clearly living a charmed life a decade ago. At age 41, he had movie star looks, had been an academic all-American baseball player at Bucknell University who was named Patriot League Scholar-Athlete of the Year, loved his job teaching high school English, had a loving wife and one-year-old son and was published in literary journals, magazines and anthologies.
But cancer is a devilish intruder and doesn't care how perfect your life is.