Memoir •  Chicana and Chicano and Medicine

$24.95 paperback

Add to Cart

¡Cancerlandia!: A Memoir

Juan Alvarado Valdivia

2016 International Latino Book Award Honorable Mention for Best Biography, English

Diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma three weeks after his thirtieth birthday, Juan Alvarado Valdivia finds himself immersed in Cancerlandia—oncology appointments, waiting rooms, and chemotherapy infusions at San Francisco General Hospital. Afraid that the illness will destroy his fledgling relationship and writing aspirations, Alvarado Valdivia tries to lead a normal life. He bikes three miles to his treatments while listening to heavy metal, attends writing workshops, and continues his hard-partying ways. When his girlfriend Paola ends their on-again, off-again relationship after a particularly troubling episode of binge drinking, he begins to acknowledge his anger and alcohol abuse.

Comic and unsparing, ¡Cancerlandia! chronicles Alvarado Valdivia’s journey as he not only fights to survive his personified adversary, Mr. Hodgkins, but also struggles with his own self-destructive spirit.


Juan Alvarado Valdivia is a Peruvian American writer who was born in Guadalajara, Mexico. He received his MFA in creative writing from Saint Mary’s College of California. He lives in Oakland with his wife.


“In this frank and often humorous memoir, (Alvarado Valdivia) documents the yearlong battle he waged against the disease, making his way through chemotherapy and radiation while endeavoring to come to terms with his own private demons. As he faces down the evil foe he dubs ‘Mr. Hodgkins,’ Valdivia works his way to health and a newfound understanding of himself.”


San Jose Mercury News

“An irreverent debut memoir from Juan Alvarado Valdivia about surviving Hodgkin lymphoma.”



“(Alvarado Valdivia) infuses the heartbreak with humor. And his encounters with his personified opponent, Mr. Hodgkins, make for some of the most compelling reading.”


Oakland Magazine

6 x 9 in. 368 pages 1 halftone