Seven Stories Press

Works of Radical Imagination

Relatively Indolent but Relentless

A Cancer Treatment Journal

by Matt Freedman


From October 3 to November 28, 2012, noted artist Matt Freedman underwent radiation and chemotherapy at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, for treatment of adenoid cystic carcinoma, a rare cancer that had spread from his tongue to his neck to his lungs by the time it was discovered. Relatively Indolent but Relentless is the funny, moving, courageous, and witty journal he kept during that time, in comics and words, of his thirty-five-day course of treatment.

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“This is a staggering and beautiful book. It reminded me of the impact of Maus—how an unexpected form suddenly breaks your heart and takes an axe, as Kafka said, to that frozen sea inside us. In all honesty, I found this book…impossible not to read.”

“Harrowing, hilarious, humbling, triumphant.”

“An amazing book…Matt Freedman manages to make his story come alive, and that’s what every artist/writer/cartoonist is trying for: a moment of focus and clarity that manages to convey personal insight…Freedman’s intelligence and humor comes through so clearly—[this book doesn’t] feel like a fictional [nor] filtered experience…It worked for me.”

“Relatively Indolent is a work of tremendous courage, talent and zeal, that turns the most difficult experience life can offer into a beautiful, evocative, and even humorous journal that anyone with cancer or without can understand. It cements my faith that in times of pain, not only is art the best answer, it's the only answer.”

“Freedman’s assignment is to record the unvarnished, gruesome, and ultimately liberating details of his thirty-five day radiation and chemotherapeutic calendar. And the details are truly fascinating.”

MATT FREEDMAN is an artist, writer, and curator who graduated from Harvard College and the University of Iowa and teaches at the University of Pennsylvania. He has received a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship in sculpture and New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship in fiction writing. Freedman co-curated the Paper Sculpture show that began at SculptureCenter in New York, as well as the (B 19) exhibition at Long Island University. Recent solo shows of Freedman’s artwork have been held at Pierogi, FiveMyles, Big&Small/Casual, Valentine, and Studio 10 galleries in Brooklyn. A cartoonist for 12 years out of college, he created the strip "Free Associates,” which was published in the Onion, the Chicago Reader, and the Philadelphia City Paper. He is the author of Relatively Indolent but Relentless: A Cancer Treatment Journal and his writing has been published by Cabinet Magazine and The Pierogi Press. Freedman lives in Queens, New York.