Lisa Reisman

5 Months 10 Years 2 hours

2015 Santa Fe Writers Project Award Winner

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"Those in search of another treacly cancer memoir need not even glance at this... Reisman's unflinching and moving tale puts to rest the image of patient as warrior. By linking her own ordeal to the triathlon she took on to mark her 10 year anniversaryshe reveals the true nature of cancer survival — not as a triumph of epic valor, but as a feat of endurance, forbearance and true grit."

—Lisa Sanders, MD, New York Times columnist and fellow cancer survivor


On August 1, 1998, 32-year-old disillusioned New York attorney Lisa Reisman plans to leave the law and hit the road in a lipstick-red convertible. Instead, she suffers a massive seizure and is found unconscious in her apartment 46 hours later. After undergoing brain surgery at Memorial-Sloan Kettering Hospital, she is diagnosed with a glioblastoma multiforme, the most lethal of brain tumors, and given a prognosis of one year to live.
In the midst of six weeks of daily radiation and six rounds of chemotherapy at Yale-New Haven Hospital, Reisman gradually works to recreate her daily life. Left with no hair and a severely weakened immune system, she overhauls her diet, memorizes poetry, and engages in a strict exercise regimen to combat the ever-present fear of dying and death.
Five months later, she undergoes an MRI that shows the cancer has not spread. While follow-up MRIs will continue indefinitely, her doctors show optimism that she is in the clear.
Through the next ten years, Reisman faces what seems an even more daunting challenge: how to make a life equal to her miraculous recovery. Determined to forge an identity separate from one of survivor, she spends years riding on a series of successes and failures—as a writer, in dead-end jobs, and in a string of short-term relationships.
During the two hours of a grueling triathlon to mark her ten-year anniversary of surviving the disease, Reisman realizes she’s already found what she’s been looking for: her family and friends on the sidelines and her work crafting stories for a small newspaper about the unsung townspeople, merchants, and stars of stage, print, and screen peopling her tiny corner of the world that lend her existence meaning and worth.


5 Months 10 Years 2 Hours
by Lisa Reisman
170 pages
$16.00 paperback ISBN 9781937402709
$9.99 ebook ISBN 9781937402716
Published by Outpost 19 | San Francisco

cover image:
Colin Hart
The Social House, Dublin, Ireland