It only gradually dawned on Robyn Michele Levy that something was wrong. Levy had a rigid left arm, frozen facial expressions and an embarrassing limp. She lost her job after five years of depression. But she resisted her doctor's suggestion that she might have Parkinson's-a neurodegenerative disease that usually strikes the elderly-even though her father had the disease and had exhibited similar symptoms.

Most of Me (Greystone $21.95) describes how Levy was diagnosed with early onset Parkinson's at age 43, then breast cancer eight months later. Along the way, she repairs a broken relationship with her daughter, re-connects with new and old friends, and gains a new appreciation for her husband, Bergen.

Levy describes disease-coping mechanisms from deranged sexual fantasies about her dentist-turned-rock-star flossing her teeth to descriptions of her Cry Lady-a sobbing, blubbering woman that inhabited her body. It's proof positive that hardship can rekindle relationships, and a healthy mindset can overcome severe physical challenges.

Robyn Michele Levy's Most of Me: Surviving My Medical Breakdown was selected as a finalist for the 2012 Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour Writing. The other four short-listed titles were The Sisters Brothers by Patrick de Witt (House of Anansi Press Inc.); On the Outside Looking Indian by Rupinder Gill (McClelland & Stewart); The Woefield Poultry Collective by Susan Juby (Harper Collins Publishing); and Happiness Economics by Shari Lapena (Brindle & Glass).


Most of Me (Greystone $21.95) 2012 978-1-55365-632-6