Cover image for Down to the Bone: A Leukemia Story By Catherine Pioli and and translated by J.T. Mahany

Down to the Bone

A Leukemia Story

Catherine Pioli and translated by J.T. Mahany

“A stunning example of what graphic medicine can do.”


152 pages
7.5" × 10.125"

When Catherine is diagnosed with acute leukemia, a deadly form of cancer that attacks the immune system, her life is turned upside down. Young and previously healthy, she now finds herself catapulted into the world of the seriously ill—constantly testing and waiting for results, undergoing endless medical treatments, learning to accept a changing body, communicating with a medical team, and relying on the support of her partner, family, and friends.

A professional illustrator, Catherine decides to tell the story of her disease in this graphic novel, and she does so with great sincerity, humor, and rare lucidity. We accompany her through the waiting, the doubts, the fears, and the tears—but also the laughter, the love, and the strong will to live.

Rich in emotion, lighthearted, and profound, Down to the Bone is a powerful book.

“A stunning example of what graphic medicine can do.”
“Thoughtful, graceful, unforgettable. Pioli captures both the coldly clinical and the deeply personal with honesty, humor, and revelations that hit hard. It’s as good as graphic medicine gets.”

Catherine Pioli was born in 1982. She loved to draw as a child and later enrolled in the School of Applied Arts in Paris. Throughout her career as an illustrator and freelance graphic designer represented by a Paris-based illustration agency, she created content for marketing firms, news outlets, and book and magazine publishers. When she was diagnosed with acute leukemia in 2016, she decided to make a graphic novel about her experience. Sadly, she did not survive her illness, passing away in July 2017. Despite everything, the testament she gives us is full of humanity and hope.