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A searing debut YA poetry and essay collection about a Black cancer patient who faces medical racism after being diagnosed with leukemia in their early twenties, for fans of Audre Lorde's The Cancer Journals and Laurie Halse Anderson's Shout.
When Walela is diagnosed at twenty-three with advanced stage blood cancer, they're suddenly thrust into the unsympathetic world of tubes and pills, doctors who don’t use their correct pronouns, and hordes of "well-meaning" but patronizing people offering unsolicited advice as they navigate rocky personal relationships and share their story online.
But this experience also deepens their relationship to their ancestors, providing added support from another realm. Walela's diagnosis becomes a catalyst for their self-realization. As they fill out forms in the insurance office in downtown Los Angeles or travel to therapy in wealthier neighborhoods, they begin to understand that cancer is where all forms of their oppression intersect: Disabled. Fat. Black. Queer. Nonbinary.
In Bless the Blood: A Cancer Memoir, the author details a galvanizing account of their survival despite the U.S. medical system, and of the struggle to face death unafraid.
About the Author
Walela Nehanda is a nonbinary cultural worker, stem cell transplant and cancer survivor, and mental health advocate born and based in Los Angeles, California.
Praise for Bless the Blood
★ "Nehanda infuses queer Black disabled resilience and wretchedness into a poetic sinew that stretches, tears, and heals again and again...Shatters mirrors and windows to reveal the jagged shards of self-determination: 'gently volatile' and absolutely crucial."
—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
★ "A forcefully crafted collection of poetic and narrative storytelling with devastating impact"
-–Publishers Weekly, starred review