She describes her work at the stable Diamond D, which was her first job after finishing chemotherapy. Moreover, she begins talking about the stares that she received from children which she did not know if they were better than the hidden looks from adults. Lucy brings the reader back with flashbacks of fourth grade. Being a tomboyish girl, she would play with boys and participate in dares. Later at night, while doing her homework she feels a toothache and thinks that this would be her way to get out of going to school the next day. However, the next day when she visits the dentist, she receives her first diagnosed as having fractured her jaw.
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It describes her childhood struggles with jaw cancer and the resulting disfigurement that she considers the true tragedy of her life. As she works the party, we see how acutely aware Grealy is of the partygoers curious and disturbed gazes at her disfigured jaw, which she attempts to hide behind her long hair. Even from the brief anecdote, we can see clearly how ashamed Grealy is at her own disfigurement. Fourth-grade Lucy sustains a minor injury while playing dodgeball in school.
This injury leads her to the dentist who is the first to realize something more may be wrong. After a series of doctors visits and misdiagnoses, she is diagnosed with Ewings sarcoma, a deadly form of cancer.
These surgeries, while successful in treating her cancer, involve removing part of her jaw, and leave her with a disfigured face. She is unable to go out in public without enduring the cruel taunts of other children and the stares of complete strangers.
She undergoes plastic surgery to fix the disfigurement but it is largely unsuccessful. Lucy seems unaware of the danger she is in at first, but after two years of treatments and several unsuccessful plastic surgeries, she comes to terms with the full weight of her diagnoses.
Along with this realization, she gains enough self-consciousness to realize that other people find her ugly. This truth dawns on her with a slow shock and she begins to avoid seeing her reflection in the mirror, going out in public, or doing anything that reminds her of her own disfigurement. During this period, Lucy must also face the fallout from her diagnosis within her own family. She pushes her daughter to remain strong and stoic.
Although this seems like the best choice at the time, it disables Lucy from addressing her own emotions. She worries about disappointing her mother every time she cries or expresses her fear.
When she returns to school, Lucy must deal with the aftermath of her treatments. She finishes high school and attend Sarah Lawrence college where she studies poetry. There, she begins to develop an identity again and develops strong, fulfilling friendships. However, she still finds herself missing the deep connection of a romantic relationship, believing herself too ugly to ever be loved that way. As Grealy progresses into adulthood, she develops a stronger sense of identity, has a successful career as a writer and poet, and even has multiple romantic relationships.
Despite this success, however, she remains deeply insecure. Obsessed with her face, Lucy believes that fixing her disfigurement will fix all of her other problems as well. She undergoes multiple dangerous, expensive, and largely unsuccessful surgeries in an attempt to do this. When they fail, we becomes depressed and withdraws from relationships. By the memoirs end, Grealy is still insecure and struggling, but she seems to have found some peace with her own appearance and identity.
In this small revelation, she begins to once again feel whole. Update this section!
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Autobiography of a Face Summary