The summer she turned 16, Christine C. Quinn’s world seemed to shatter.
Her mother was dying of breast cancer that had spread to her bones.
Almost every morning, the young Ms. Quinn woke her mother, bathed her, made her breakfast and gave her medication.
Her mother had gone deaf, and said that Christine, her younger daughter, was the only one whose lips she could read. So it was up to her daughter to deliver the worsening medical news the family received in doctors’ offices and hospital rooms, which her mother met with disbelief and sometimes anger.
When the sadness and chaos got to be too much, Ms. Quinn would sneak tubs of ice cream and corn muffins up to her bedroom, eat them in a single sitting, and then make herself throw up. The purging brought a momentary sense of relief to what seemed an out-of-control life.