Natural Killer: A Memoir
Authors: Lye, Harriet Alida
Publisher: McClelland & Stewart
Synopsis: "I need people to know that I exist, that their experiment worked, that by some combination of luck and science, I'm alive."
In this harrowing and intimate memoir, Harriet Alida Lye explores how, at just fifteen years old, she was diagnosed with a form of leukemia called Natural Killer, named "the rarest and worst malignancy." The average survival time of patients with this diagnosis is fifty-eight days. There are no known survivors. There were no known survivors.
Fifteen years after Harriet's diagnosis, she became pregnant, despite having been told that her chemotherapy treatment would likely make conception impossible. To be a mother is to make a death, as death is bound up in life. She knew her body had the ability to create death. She never trusted, was told to not even imagine, that it also had the power, that magical banality, to create life.
Weaving in source material from the year she spent in hospital, written by both of her parents and her teenage self, this personal reflection is told through a seamless blend of narrative, snapshots, journal entries, and blog updates posted for friends and family.
With probing lyricism and searing honesty, Natural Killer explores what it's like to live with a life-threatening illness and survive it; what it means for a body to turn against itself, to self-destruct from within; and what it takes to regain trust in a body that has committed the ultimate betrayal.