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The Whipple Brunch, A Journey Through Cancer: the fears, tears, tiaras, & tornadoes*


After surviving cancer twice, I visited Ireland in 2002 and fell in love with the country of my paternal grandparents. In the years that followed, I went back -- and back and back again. One September I achieved my goal of climbing up Skellig Michael, a centuries-old rocky island monastery.


Two weeks after returning home from that particular trip, I was sitting in a comfy chair in my own living room in Massachusetts, feeling fine, when I was literally knocked to the floor with a stabbing abdominal pain.


What followed was a third bout lasting two years, a frustrating and often absurd saga filled with physicians, decisions, and incisions, including the notorious Whipple Procedure. What happened during that time I couldn't have made up, but it wasn't just a vale of tears from one day to the next. My friends kept me grounded, bringing dogs disguised as infants to visit me in the hospital, and a full-on Royal Wedding party with a crown for me and tiaras for the staff.

                             -- Andrea Cleghorn

*The Whipple Brunch is available through


What readers are saying about Andrea Cleghorn's memoir:



"For all cancers of all stages, there will always be survivors. Andrea's journey supports keeping hope alive every day."

                           Francis J. McGovern, M.D.

                     Urological Oncology Surgeon

               Massachusetts General Hospital



“The Whipple Brunch is an amazing achievement: it's informative, funny, painful, engaging and impossible to put down. Andrea Cleghorn's memoir of illness, surgery, recovery is an uplifting story of the strength of the human spirit and the healing power of love.”                                                     Kathy McCoy, Ph.D.

                Author,  The Teenage Body Bo



“I devoured this story of enduring — and at times thriving -- through a cancer journey. Andrea Cleghorn’s grace and humor and overall spiritedness inspired me beyond words. Should I ever find myself chronically or temporarily ill, I will hold fast to the example she set in terms of research, patience, creating friend/family support, thanking people, continuing life in small ways every day, breaking rules, taking risks, admitting vulnerability, and embracing it all.” 

                                                 Debby Irving

                            Author, Waking Up White

 The Whipple Brunch, a memoir


"My disbelief in miracles has been well shaken by the contents of this book. That a woman's insides can be removed, cleansed, detoxified, the cancer sliced away and the body made whole is one great superbly written autobiographical epic. “The Whipple Brunch” by Andrea Tobin Cleghorn will leave you, mouth agape, laughing and filled with wonder. You will want to find her and hug this gloriously funny woman for going through this tunnel of death and emerging triumphant.”

                                                                                                      Malachy McCourt

                                                                                            Author, A Monk Swimming


"If Nora Ephron had had the Whipple surgery, this is the book she could have written: filled with intelligence, humor, acceptance, humility, gratitude, and grace. Whether or not you have faced cancer, you will love this book."


                                                                                                amazon reviewer


From the crumbling steps up to Skellig Michael, Ireland's 6th-century island monastery, to the corridors of a Boston hospital, make no mistake: The Whipple Brunch is an adventure story of an unorthodox and unforgettable kind.


"Prior to reading this book my only knowledge of 'The Whipple' was from an episode of Gray's Anatomy, featured as one of the most difficult surgeries a doctor would encounter. Reading a first-hand account of someone who has not only been on the receiving end of the Whipple but had to make the difficult decision whether to endure it has truly changed my life.


This book is realistic and FUNNY-- with a slight darkness to the humor

that gives permission to the reader to laugh alongside the misadventures of the author's cancer journey. Warm, informative, and brutally honest,

I recommend this book not only to people going through a similar health journey but also to anyone who wishes to gain perspective on life's most difficult decisions and how true grit is in each of our hearts

if you know where to find it."

                                                                                                                    C. Hegins

                                                                                                        amazon reviewer

"This is like reading a work penned by Erma Bombeck's smarter and funnier sister (which is no slight to the late, great Bombeck, herself a brave battler of cancer and kidney disease.) The fact that Cleghorn's subject is no laughing matter never stops this true-life tale from being alternately amusing, touching, and awe-inspiring...not only lessons for surviving some of life's darker moments, but how to emerge bruised yet unbowed. I can't recommend this book highly enough."


                                                                                                    amazon reviewer


"When a friend is diagnosed with cancer, please don't give her pink ribbons or trinkets, buy this book instead. I recently completed chemo and radiation and found it the Whipple Brunch to be engaging, enlightening, and encouraging. One need not be a cancer survivor, or even know one, to enjoy the humor and poetry of the author's prose. And if you're Irish, which I'm not, or like to travel, which I don''ll enjoy it even more! Trust me, it's a great read that will make you smile, I promise."

                                                                                                       Kathleen V.

                                                                                              amazon reviewer 


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