Marrow: A Love Story

Image of Marrow: A Love Story
Release Date: 
September 19, 2016
Harper Wave
Reviewed by: 

"A very profound and intense tale, Marrow offers enlightening with food for thought for everyone."

Marrow: A Love Story is not just a memoir about two sisters facing a traumatic situation; it is also the account of how they share by finding the way to accept themselves as well as others.

Elizabeth (Liz) Lesser is across the country at a wedding when she receives a call from her younger sister Maggie telling her she is sick. She is diagnosed with lymphoma, a cancer she will die from if she doesn't have immediate treatment. She suffers through it hoping for a cure only to have the insidious disease return after seven years. Now the only hope for survival depends on getting a bone marrow transplant.

A sister with three siblings, it is Elizabeth who is the perfect match to be a donor for Maggie, and she does so willingly and with adoration for her sister. Elizabeth travels from her New York residence to Maggie's in Vermont where she stays for six days.

It is at the Dartmouth Medical Center in New Hampshire where Elizabeth is given injections of Neupogen for five days to propagate more stem cells to attain anywhere from two million to five million stem cells. On day six, she returns to the hospital where and IV is placed in a large vein. It takes about six hours to cycle the blood through a machine, called apheresis, a process where the stem cells are separated from her marrow blood cells, and the rest of the blood is returned to the donor after the whole bloodstream has been circulated several times. Then the stem cells are harvested and frozen until they can be injected into Maggie.

Meanwhile, Maggie undergoes rigorous chemotherapy and full-body radiation to destroy all the cancer cells from her body before she can receive Elizabeth's donor cells. Unfortunately Maggie's process takes a while, and she is not able to be given the harvest for a few months.

Elizabeth, cofounder of Omega Institute, which offers workshops focusing on health and healing, psychology and spirituality, and creativity and social change, suggests to Maggie that they should attend therapy together. A scholar of learning about humans as individuals, this was a chance for the both of them to get to the crux of their relationship beginning from childhood onward to eliminate old wounds and become more at peace with each other.

Her reasoning behind wanting therapy is as Elizabeth states in the following: "I want to check out if there is anything within me—in my thoughts and my feelings and my memories and my body, all the way down to the marrow of my bones, to my tiniest stem cells—that might interfere with the success of the transplant. And if there is, I want to examine it, hold it to the light, and let it go."

Maggie's purpose is simple. She wants to live; she wants the transplant to work.

With the meshing of cells, they become "Maggie-Liz" working together to save Maggie's life. In their session, Liz quotes from the Persian poet Rumi what they come to embrace: "Out beyond the ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing, there is a field. I'll meet you there." The therapy brings them to their "field" of acceptance and love. Through this, they depend on the doctors for the bone marrow transplant while they two enjoy a "soul-marrow transplant," getting to know and understand each other and love them as they are as they bond as one.

Many different authors and intellectuals are cited throughout the text giving credence to Elizabeth's quest for healing for Maggie. She also includes snippets from Maggie's journal through her journey toward recovery.

While she notates Maggie's illness, she illustrates how individuals are vulnerable and afraid to speak our minds or ask for what we need. Every human is imperfect, yet unique in their own way and what is most important in life is to love yourself, love others, and be forgiving.

A very profound and intense tale, Marrow offers enlightening with food for thought for everyone.