BEFORE I GO Topics and Questions for Discussion
1. At the beginning of the story, Daisy describes herself as stubborn, independent, organized, and definitely not indecisive. What words would you use to describe her at the beginning of the story?
2. After receiving the news from Dr. Saunders about the probable recurrence of her cancer, Daisy waits twenty-four hours before telling Jack. Why do you think she waited? What do you learn about Daisy and Jack’s relationship from the way they navigate the conversation when she tells him the news?
3. Daisy describes her observation about people from her work at a credit card call center by saying, “. . . most people just want to talk. To be heard. Even if it is by a stranger. Or maybe, especially if it’s a stranger.” Do you think she wants this for herself? Is this observation true for you? Why or why not?
4. On page 78, Daisy says: “. . . there’s only one thing that’s worse than actually having cancer, and that’s having to tell people you have cancer.” What do you think makes talking about cancer (or any other serious illness) so awkward for most people? How would you want people to respond if you were in Daisy’s situation?
5. How is Daisy’s response to the question “If you knew you were going to die in one month, what would you do?” different at age twenty-seven than it was at age twenty-one? How did she use the first month following the news about her cancer’s recurrence? What did you feel toward her as you read the story of how she was spending her days? How would you answer the question?
6. How would you describe Jack’s response to Daisy as she pushes him away? Do you think he represents a typical partner’s response? Why or why not? How would you respond to someone you knew had a serious illness and seemed to be pushing you away?
7. What do you think Daisy is trying to avoid by focusing on planning Jack’s future before she dies?
8. Describe Daisy’s friendship with Kayleigh. In what ways are they similar? How are they opposite? Do you relate to the kind of friendship they share? Describe.
9. What do you think were some of the factors that precipitated Daisy’s panic attacks? Have you ever experienced a panic attack or known someone who has?
10. Describe the bargain Jack and Daisy made about each others’ schooling when they learned about the extent of her cancer recurrence. Why do you think Daisy was so intent on Jack continuing school in the midst of her cancer treatments? Would you have made the same decision? Why or why not?
11. What role does Pamela play in the story? How does she serve a similar function for both Daisy and Jack?
12. Based on what you learn about Daisy’s life as a young girl, what are some of the ways she has learned to cope with pain and disappointment in her life? How do those strategies serve or hinder her when she’s diagnosed with Lots of Cancer?
13. On page 219, Daisy quotes a therapist she saw once who said, “anger is grief wearing a disguise.” Do you agree? Why or why not? Do you think Daisy would agree at the end of the story?
14. How do you feel about the way the story ended?
Enhance Your Book Club
1. Invite someone you know who is a cancer survivor to share their story at your next book club. Spend time discussing the question, “If you had a month to live, what would you do?”
2. Make a bucket list. Spend time thinking about the things you want to experience before you die and write them down. Make plans to start crossing things off your list, one at a time. Discuss your lists at your next book club.
3. Think of someone in your life who is dealing with a chronic or terminal illness. Make a list of a few ways you could encourage and demonstrate care for them during this time. Make a plan to do at least one of the things on your list for them. Discuss what this was like at your next book club.
4. Notice the things that make you angry in the course of a week and write them down. Spend some time reflecting on what griefs your anger may be disguising. Share reflections at your next book club.