Review

First, You Cry

by Betty Rollin



Twenty-five years ago, Betty Rollin, network television
correspondent for CBS, PBS, and NBC, found out that she had breast
cancer. It is ironic that she went to get her mammogram because she
had recently reported on the breast cancer trials of both Betty
Ford and Happy Rockefeller. At the time, it was unusual for women
to rush to their doctors and beg for mammograms, but American women
did just that. Armed with scant information, they demanded
treatment, and many women surprisingly found out that they were
going to need lots of it. Rollin was one of them.

This remarkably candid and courageous memoir was written in the
aftermath of Rollin's personal struggle with the disease. No
stranger to controversy or controversial subjects (the assisted
death of her mother is the subject of her other bestseller, LAST
WISH), Rollin tells her story in a straightforward way that makes
you feel as if your best friend is going through the disease and
letting you in on all the details, for her own sake as well as
yours.  

FIRST, YOU CRY is an informative and remarkable book, in context or
out of it --- when Rollin wrote the book, it was the first memoir
of battling the disease to hit the marketplace, and readers
responded overwhelmingly. She has now been free of the disease for
25 years, and the book is being reprinted in time for Breast Cancer
Awareness Month. In her foreword, she speaks proudly of being a
part of that celebration. Amazed by the way things have progressed,
she also acknowledges that there is still far to go in the
treatment and hopefully the eventual cure of the disease.

Rollin has such style, personally and professionally, that FIRST,
YOU CRY is as uplifting a document of pain and heartache as any
reader will find anywhere. Her mastectomy is handled with such
humor and bluntness that you feel like you've lived through each
moment with her. She is a very feminist yet feminine spirit
(clearly those two things never need be all that separate), and it
is fascinating to see her be angry at herself for caring what she
looks like and stressing out over bras and other fashion questions
to hide her missing breast. These are the juxtapositions of
personal consideration and medical analysis that Rollin does so
well, that makes FIRST, YOU CRY such a landmark and important
work.

For those with and without the disease, this one woman's story will
enthrall you, shake you to the core and send you running to your
doctor for your own perhaps belated exams. FIRST, YOU CRY is the
key book in the pantheon of what has been written on the disease
throughout the last quarter century.

Reviewed by Jana Siciliano on January 22, 2011

First, You Cry
by Betty Rollin

  • Publication Date: October 1, 2000
  • Genres: Memoir, Nonfiction
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Paperbacks
  • ISBN-10: 0060956305
  • ISBN-13: 9780060956301