Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

Comics & Graphic Novels Contemporary Women

Kimiko Does Cancer

A Graphic Memoir

text by Kimiko Tobimatsu

illustrated by Keet Geniza

Arsenal Pulp Press
Initial publish date
Sep 2020
Contemporary Women, Gay & Lesbian, Biography & Memoir, Cancer
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2020
    List Price

Add it to your shelf

Where to buy it


A moving and honest graphic memoir about the unexpected cancer journey of a young, queer, mixed-race woman.

At the age of twenty-five, Kimiko Tobimatsu was a young, queer, mixed-race woman with no history of health problems whose world was turned upside down when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. In an instant, she became immersed in a new and complicated life of endless appointments, evaluations, and treatments, and difficult conversations with her partner and parents. Kimiko knew that this wasn't what being twenty-five was supposed to be like ... but then, she didn't have a choice.

With tender illustrations by Keet Geniza, Kimiko Does Cancer is a graphic memoir that upends the traditional cancer narrative from a young woman's perspective, confronting issues such as dating while in menopause, navigating work and treatment, and talking to well-meaning friends, health care professionals, and other cancer survivors with viewpoints different from her own. Not one for pink ribbons or runs for the cure, Kimiko seeks connection within the cancer community while also critiquing the mainstream cancer experience.

Honest and poignant, Kimiko Does Cancer is about finding one's own way out of a health crisis.

Two-colour throughout.

About the authors

Kimiko Tobimatsu is an employment and human rights lawyer by day. Kimiko Does Cancer, based on her own experience, is her first book.

Kimiko Tobimatsu's profile page

Keet Geniza is a Filipinx-Canadian illustrator and comic artist. Born and raised in Manila, she moved to Toronto in 2006 and has since immersed herself in zines and comics as a way to document her struggles as a queer immigrant woman of colour. Kimiko Does Cancer is her first book.

Keet Geniza's profile page


  • Short-listed, Joe Shuster Award for Best Artist
  • Winner, Joe Shuster Award for Best Writer

Editorial Reviews

Candidly written and lovingly illustrated, this graphic novel details the author's fight against breast cancer as a 25-year-old queer woman. As much a critique on the mainstream cancer movement as it is a tome on finding one's own way through, this is a perspective on the journey rarely seen in print. -Ms. Magazine

With honesty, humility, and humour, Kimiko Does Cancer challenges cliches and what we think we know about being diagnosed with and treated for cancer. A triumph! -MK Czerwiec, author of Taking Turns: Stories from HIV/AIDS Care Unit 371

Giving readers a vivid glimpse of cancer as a deeply emotional, interior experience, Tobimatsu and Geniza create a non-linear story of recovery that is funny, lively, and full of honest self-reflection. -Plenitude Magazine

The best graphic novel autobiographies provide insight into the lives of remarkable people and Kimiko Tobimatsu's story, complemented by the highly skilled art of Keet Geniza, is a particularly special privilege for us. -Toronto Star

An engaging and inspirational account of dealing with illness and its perception. -Kirkus Reviews

Beautifully drawn and candidly told, Kimiko Does Cancer asks important questions about how to move forward when you've seemingly beaten cancer, yet it continues to affect every part of your life - from your body and self-image to your relationships and sense of purpose. Kimiko leads us, with openness and vulnerability, on a cancer journey focused less on survival and more on how best to live while staying true to herself. -Teresa Wong, author of Dear Scarlet

Geniza's expressive figure drawings show a keen eye for the close-up, with a simple color palate of muted blues, blacks, and grays that call to mind Alison Bechdel's Fun Home. Kimiko's strong debut offers a fresh perspective in the growing graphic medicine category. -Publishers Weekly

This is an important and insightful cancer memoir that does not try to laugh off the suffering and anguish that a cancer diagnosis brings. Aided by Keet Geniza's compelling illustrations, Kimiko brings an original queer perspective to the genre, dealing with issues of masculinity, body image, reproduction, identity and self-worth, raising questions that this reader had not previously considered. Excellent! -Ian Williams, author of The Bad Doctor

A frank and moving look at what it means to have cancer, and how your life can change once you become a cancer survivor. -CBC Books ("Best Canadian Comics of 2020")