Saturday, January 12, 2008

Bring Your Own Breast: My Pick of Breast Cancer Books and Web Sites

My Favorite Books:

While the books below don’t focus directly on hormone-negative cancer, they do provide a thorough overview for understanding breast cancer and managing treatment and recovery.

Dr. Susan Love's Breast Book . This book should be on every woman’s bookshelf—not just those with breast cancer. It has been called the “breast cancer bible,” and rightfully so. I like Dr. Love’s attitude—she has faith in the wisdom of her patients as well as in medical science. The book is thorough, going even into metastasis, which she handles with such good sense it makes the possibility less frightening.

Sat Dharam Kaur’s The Complete Natural Medicine Guide to Breast Cancer . This wise naturopathic book is a great complement to Dr. Love’s book. I would also recommend it for all women as it offers great advice for staying healthy overall. It approaches treatment from an alternative perspective, while showing respect for traditional Western medicine. The book offers suggestions for natural ways to make chemo and radiation less toxic; a soothing breast massage that can double as a less intimidating breast exam; and plenty of details of types of cancer and their treatment. My daughter gave me this one and it is dog-eared from use—it gave me a sense of control over my illness, a way to help heal myself.

After Cancer Treatment: Heal Faster, Better, Stronger, Julie K. Silver, MD . A breast cancer survivor herself, Dr. Silver is an assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School, making her advice personal as well as medically sound. She helps you move on with your life through exercise, healthy eating, proper sleep, and a focus on mind, body, and spirit.

Straight Talk About Breast Cancer: From Diagnosis to Recovery,” Suzanne W. Braddock, M .D., Jane M Kercher, M.D., John J. Edney, M.D., Melanie Morrissey Clark. This book is a simple and helpful guide, strengthened by the first-person perspective of Dr. Braddock, a breast cancer survivor. My doctor gave me this one—sort of a prize gift for getting breast cancer.

Breast Cancer Husband: How to Help your Wife (And Yourself)Through Breast Cancer Diagnosis, Treatment, and Beyond, by Marc Silver. When Silver's wife (not Julie, above)  was diagnosed with breast cancer, he thought he was an inadequate caregiver, so he wrote this book to help guide other men in caring for their wives. Our daughter bought this for her father, who was an excellent caregiver, so it looks to me like it works.

Cancer Made Me A Shallower Person: A Memoir in Comics, by Miriam Engelberg. This book gave me the permission to laugh in the face of my disease. Engelberg used cartoons and a sharp wit to take us through her diagnosis, treatment, and, sadly, metastasis. She didn't try to be heroic, settling for being real. My favorite line: "Maybe I caused my cancer by being so depressed. That's so depressing." My son gave me this one, understanding his mother's need to laugh, no matter what.

My Favorite Web Sites:

These are also listed on the left, but I thought it might be good to explain some of them.

The Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation’s mission is to “eradicate breast cancer and improve the quality of women's health through innovative research, education and advocacy.” The site is comprehensive, easy-to-navigate, and offers information that doesn’t frighten, with an expert perspective and an engaging blog. In October 2007 Love was on NBC Nightly News and discussed the benefits of chemotherapy for hormone negative cancer. Love, who is author of Dr. Susan Love’s Breast Book, has a simple philosophy that is hard to beat: “We need to go beyond a cure. We need to stop people from ever getting breast cancer in the first place.”

Hurricane Voices is a breast cancer foundation that funds and supports research and advocacy. The group encourages new members to speak out for a “world without breast cancer” by being a Hurricane Voice. The foundation recently did a survey on cognitive problems associated with cancer treatment , which has been called “chemobrain.”

Breast is winner of the 2007 Platinum Award for Best Healthcare Content and the Silver Award for Best Overall Internet Site. It’s full of great information to help you with everything from navigating your pathology report to understanding breast reconstruction. News, illustrations, research reports. The group offers online Ask-The-Expert Conferences and chat rooms.

The Susan G. Koman Breast Cancer Foundation is probably the best-known breast cancer organization because of its Race for the Cure. The foundation also supports breast cancer research. Its site offers background information on breast cancer, news, research reports, and helps hook you up with a support group. There’s even an online breast exam. Bring your own breast.

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