I love to read and one of the side benefits of having breast cancer was that I had time where I couldn’t do anything but read for hours on end during chemo and it’s aftermath. Here are my 4 favorite books that helped me during this time.
Immediately below are the two books that helped me navigate through the overwhelming first days of breast cancer, as well as later in the reconstruction process.
“Dr. Susan Love’s Breast Book,'” by Dr. Susan M. Love, MD
One of the best books you’ll ever read about breast cancer, this book has been considered the bible of breast cancer books since it’s first publication in 1990. It’s been updated several times and the book contains a wealth of information about breast cancer presented in an easy to understand and organized way. The fact that she’s a woman and a breast surgeon made my decision to buy this book the very first week I was diagnosed a no brainer. And Dr. Love didn’t disappoint; a very helpful book for anyone who’s recently been diagnosed, or even if you’re in the middle and have hit some stumbling blocks along the way (what, stumbling blocks during breast cancer?!). I found it to truly be my bible during this process.
“Living Through Breast Cancer,” by Carolyn M. Kaelin, MD., MPH
Another wonderful book written by a female physician who was diagnosed at a young age herself with breast cancer. She offers not only a book chock full of extremely accessible information but a unique perspective as a woman who’s personally experienced breast cancer herself. The book is easy to read and is segmented by the primary areas of the experience (diagnosis, treatments, recovery) and features information that will benefit any breast cancer patient.
And here’s where I show my inner geek. I found the next two non-fiction books to be my “entertaining and fun” reads during BC. Yep, strange as it seems, I found these two books about cancer to be intensely engrossing and frankly, entertaining. Once I started them both, I couldn’t put them down, they read like novels. Please note, these aren’t about breast cancer, these 2 are about cancer in general, but will give you interesting insight into this disease.
“The Emperor of all Maladies: A Biography of Cancer,” by Siddartha Mukherjee
I was fascinated with this very intense book which reads like a mystery novel. The author is an oncologist who literally traces cancer’s “life” from Egyptian times through today. The thing that shocked me the most as I read it is how little we still know about the disease, and how so many of the discoveries occurred in such a random way. I’m actually planning on re-reading it this month, as it’s a book worth re-visiting; full of fascinating information and facts about the history of cancer and it’s impact within the medical community.
“The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” by Rebecca Skloot
Another book of non-fiction that reads like a compelling novel. Henrietta Lacks was an African American mother of five, who died at the age of 30 from a particularly virulent form of cervical cancer. Cells from her tumor were taken without her or her families consent and recreated in medical labs all over the world to be used in medical testing and research that has helped almost every type of breakthrough in modern medical history – from polio vaccines and cancer research to cloning and gene testing for the past 60 years. Henrietta’s cells were named Hela and these Hela cells are still being used today by anyone involved in any type of cellular research. I am quite sure that I benefited from her cells somehow during my course of treatment, so in some ways I feel I owe Henrietta my life.
In addition to these books, there were many others I read that year and you can click on the link here to read about some of my other favorites. And here’s where I get on my platform once again: Be your own health advocate. Read, research, find information in the best way you can absorb it so that you can be a proactive partner in your own treatment.