Not in the Pink
by Tina Martel



Houghton Boston, 2014. ISBN 978-0-993-95480-1.
Reviewed by Lee Ambrose
Posted on 05/26/2015
Review of the Month, June 2015

Nonfiction: Memoir

I didn't intend to read Not in the Pink in one sitting, but I just couldn't help myself. I didn't intend to re-read Not in the Pink in another one-day sitting, but, again I couldn't help myself. Let me be perfectly clear, I first read it in one evening because I was riveted to every word that Tina Martel wrote. The second reading was to revisit with the graphics, because I didn't want to miss a single image or thought.

Tina Martel was diagnosed with Stage Two B breast cancer. Not in the Pink chronicles her journey in word and in graphic artwork of various mediums. Her story is compelling. It is raw and it is real. Likewise, her artwork and photography is raw, real and very gutsy.

As an Oncology RN of many years, I found Martel's telling of her journey to be one of the most honest and detailed of any I've ever read. As a cancer survivor, I found her reactions, fears, and frustrations resonated with me on many levels. She does not mince words or try to make the experience more palatable. She honestly shares the sometimes unimaginable comments from healthcare workers, family members and well-meaning friends. She graphically depicts the side effects from treatments, and it becomes painfully obvious that sometimes the treatment is worse than the disease itself. The eccentricities of her many care providers and the utterly frustrating bureaucracy of the medical system are not exempt from her scrutiny.

Lest you think that Martel's story is nothing but gloom and doom, take heart. She shares her wit as freely as her brutal candor. One particularly endearing glimpse of her wit concerns her attempt to explain the "advantages" of losing all body hair.

The layout, the artwork, and the quality of the finished product deserve rave reviews. High quality paper, unique graphic layout, and overall beauty are just a few of the accolades I would ascribe to Not in the Pink.

Read an excerpt from this book.


Tina Martel is a Canadian artist whose mediums include photography, painting, video, installation, drawing, and mixed media. She was born and raised in Saskatchewan. Martel earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Alberta College of Art and Design and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Calgary. She has received several grants and awards and has exhibited her work in Canada, the United States and in Europe. She teaches fine arts in the post secondary system. Perhaps most importantly to this work, Martel is a breast cancer survivor. Visit her website.

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