Last year I read Truth and Beauty by Ann Patchett, which is the story of her friendship with Lucy Grealy, a poet who suffered from a facial deformity brought on by cancer surgery and radiation treatments. Thus I already knew a lot of Lucy's story. Nevertheless it's very affecting, hearing Lucy's own words and descriptions of her trials. She underwent enormous pain from her surgeries and unending cruelty from schoolmates. As you would imagine, the book contains a lot of self-analysis, and shifting moods as she deals with her plight. Yet this is not a particularly depressing book. Grealy must have had a deep well of optimism in order to get through 30 surgeries, and much of that optimism is apparent in the book. I did feel troubled by the end, however, knowing the rest of the story from Ann Patchett's book. It was a false sense of optimism after all. Grealy died of a drug overdose in 2002.
You can read more about this book here.
(Book 2, 2006)