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Patients’ books 2017-05-19T11:28:32+00:00

Here you will find a collection of books selected by our staff for their powerful and compelling stories. These are books written by cancer survivors, by the parents of children with cancer, or else books intended as a primer to explain cancer to our young ones. In addition, some of these books offer cancer patient-related resources that you might find useful. This list will be updated periodically, so please check again for new books. Also, please feel free to write to us at info@ces.b2sg.org with the Subject line: Patients’ books if you wish to suggest a book to add to this selection. All books are listed here solely as a service to our members and we do not receive payment, or any other form of referral commission or compensation should you buy the books.

We hope you find these books both interesting and helpful!

With our best wishes of good health,

The Patients’ Books Team.

Book of the Month (June – July)

When Breath Becomes Air

When Breath Becomes Air - Cancer Epigenetics Society

Author:  Paul Kalanithi

Summary:

At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live.

Cancer: Lung cancer
written by: Cancer patient

In house review: This book brings two perspectives about cancer from one and the same person. That of a doctor, who diagnosed and surgically removed countless tumors, who counseled scores of cancer patients and their families, and who too often had to condole and console a spouse, a parent, or a sibling for the loss of their beloved. And that of a patient, diagnosed at the age of 36 with terminal lung cancer. The author, Dr. Paul Kalanithi, narrates first his journey as a successful neurosurgery resident at Stanford University, as a loving (and loved) husband and son, and as a man of good heart and great promise. All of it comes to an abrupt halt as lung cancer declares itself, changing everything, except for the spirit and resolve of the man at the center of the tragedy.

This is the story of a man who had to look cancer and death in the eye, yet did not falter in his determination to remain a good doctor and family man, who did his best to fight the disease, and who put his most intimate thoughts and feelings bare for the world to read in this book. It gives the reader insights into the world of cancer from both ends of the spectrum: doctors striving to do their best, sometimes struggling with inner doubts and conflicted emotions, and patients confronted with the complex meanders of a disease aptly referred to as the emperor of all maladies, confronted with their own (untimely) mortality, looking for answers, looking for hope, all the while still juggling a leftover life from another time.

As the author states, “only 0.0012% of 36-year-old (non-smokers) get lung cancer”. Yet, as this book acutely reminds us, 0.0012% is not 0. It means it happens. And it can happen to anybody. Anytime. With the increased pollution, stress, and ever-more-frequent passed on genetic and epigenetic mutations from the generations prior, cancer is only going to be more frequent, more aggressive. Just like Paul Kalanithi did, we, as a society, ought to look cancer in the eye, and fight it with all we’ve got.

A must read!

Reviewed by: I.M. Bennani-Baiti, President, the Cancer Epigenetics Society

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Book of the Month (April – May)

Daniel, My Son: A Father’s Powerful Account Of His Son’s Cancer Journey

Daniel My Son - Cancer Epigenetics Society

Author:  David Thomas

Summary:

Daniel Thomas was 17 when he was diagnosed with a rare bone cancer. His chances of survival were slim at best. But his father refused to give up hope and did everything in his power to find his son a cure. Sadly, Daniel didn’t survive but this account of the journey is a testament to a parent’s unconditional love and mankind’s desperate need for hope and new treatments.

Cancer: bone cancer
written by: family member

In house review: This book is a powerful account of fatherly love and methodical thinking (and action) in the pursuit of saving the life of one’s closest and dearest. This is one of the most compelling stories you’ll ever read about how sheer determination can push the inevitable beyond the realms of reasonable science and medicine. The author of this book leaves no stone unturned, crosses geographical and language barriers to seek out the best treatments and diagnostic procedures for his son, immerses himself in the most dense and obscure (including my own) cancer science to best chart his son’s journey in cancer, if not to find an actual cure. As someone who has investigated this particular form of cancer for many years, I was surprised to learn a thing or two that, to the best of my knowledge, were at the time not available in the scientific and medical literature. This book is packed with strong emotions (both happy and sad ones) as it narrates the beautiful story of a father-son relationship, that neither divorce nor cancer could mitigate. Ultimately, this book goes beyond recording the chronicles of Daniel’s cancer, it is the story of two people who love each other more than words can say, one that is attempting to emerge from boyhood to step into the world of young adulthood and the corridors of Oxford University, while at the same time desperately holding on to his dad for help and guidance, and one who is gently ushering his son toward the man he hopes he will one day become, while navigating the maize of science and medicine, pacing the hallways of hospitals, and juggling his work and own life. This book is a permanent reminder that too many good lives are lost to cancer, and that if there were one formidable foe against which one should put up a good fight, cancer is definitely it. Proceeds from the sale of this book are in part donated to World Child Cancer, a charity which helps children with cancer in developing countries.

Reviewed by: I.M. Bennani-Baiti, President, the Cancer Epigenetics Society

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All the Above: My son´s battle with brain cancer

Author: Julia McDermott

Summary: 

On his 19th birthday and the day after his freshman year at the University of Georgia, Jack McDermott was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Sitting right behind his optic nerves, the tumor rapidly threatened to take his vision, and Jack was rushed into surgery. For the next six months, he fought the battle of his life. Told with honesty, tenderness, and compassion, All the Above chronicles his mom’s emotional struggle as she and her family did everything possible to help Jack survive brain cancer. This inspiring true story of courage, optimism, and hope will touch all those whose world has changed in a day, and who have faced grief and loss.

Cancer: brain cancer
written by: family member

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Cancer: What I Wish I Had Known When I Was First Diagnosed: Tips and Advice From a Survivor

Author: Michele Ryan

Summary:

A cancer diagnosis results, understandably, in fear and uncertainty. Once the initial shock passes, the questions begin. Some are medical in nature: What are your treatment options? Some are intensely personal: How do you tell your children? Will your hair grow back after chemo? How will the disease affect your sex life and relationships?

In Cancer: What I Wish I Had Known When I Was First Diagnosed, ten-year breast cancer survivor Michele Ryan answers these questions and more. Michele’s common sense advice and practical tips provide a comprehensive road map to help navigate the basic challenges of life with cancer. She covers everything from how to evaluate your health insurance to what to pack for hospital stays, all carefully laid out in an easy-to-navigate format so readers can find answers to specific questions quickly.

Cancer: What I Wish I Had Known When I Was First Diagnosed helps prepare you for cancer treatment, providing the facts you need to make informed choices. You are not on this journey alone. Let Michele’s sensible, thoughtful advice be your guide.

Cancer: breast cancer
written by: survivor

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How to Survive Lung Cancer – A Practical 12-Step Plan

Author: Michael Lloyd

Summary:

Written by a lung cancer survivor who understands what it takes to beat the odds, this book offers unparalleled hope and direction for anyone facing this illness. It is filled with specific exercises and techniques to promote healing and reverse side effects by taking a pro-active approach in helping to restore your mind, body and spirit to an optimum state of health. Endorsed by a Lung Cancer Specialist and Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School, this book combines what the doctors tell you with critical information they don’t tell you. Visit www.SurviveLungCancer.com for chapter summaries.

Cancer: lung cancer
written by: survivor, endorsed by a Lung Cancer Specialist and Associate Professor at Havard Medical School

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What About Me?: When Brothers and Sisters Get Sick

Author: Allan Peterkin, Frances Middendorf (Illustrator)

Summary:

When a child is seriously ill, siblings experience mixed emotions and hurt feelings, and wonder about the future. In this heartwarming story, the narrator, a confused young girl, expresses all of these concerns when her brother goes to the hospital for an extended stay.

Cancer: childhood cancer
Children’s book

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Had I Known: A Memoir of Survival

Author: Joan Lunden

Summary:

In this brave and deeply personal memoir, one of America’s most beloved journalists, mother, and New York Times bestselling author speaks candidly about her battle against breast cancer, her quest to learn about it and teach others, and the transformative effect it’s had on her life.

When former Good Morning America host Joan Lunden was diagnosed with breast cancer, she set out to learn everything about it to help her survive. With seven children counting on her, giving up was not an option. After announcing her diagnosis on Good Morning America, people all over the country rallied around Joan as she went into Warrior mode. Within a few months, after losing her hair, Joan appeared on the cover of People magazine bald, showing the world she could, and would, beat the disease. Determined to remain upbeat—to look in the mirror with a brave face—her resolve empowered women everywhere. The Today show quickly recruited Joan as a special correspondent and continues to follow her progress.

A deeply personal and powerful story of pain, persistence, and perseverance, Had I Known is a chronicle of Joan’s experience and the plan she formulated and followed to battle with her disease and treatment. As Joan reveals, while her journey was not easy, it profoundly changed her in unexpected ways. Her odyssey helped Joan redefine herself, her values, and most of all, her health. Following a new clean way of eating, Joan lost thirty pounds, became more aware of the food she was eating, and avoided many of the debilitating side effects of chemotherapy.

Dealing with the cancer also changed her perception of true beauty. Being attractive isn’t about the hair on your head—it’s about the strength and character you bring to everything you do. Positive yet down-to-earth, told with piercing honesty leavened with warmth and humor, Had I Known offers unforgettable, inspirational lessons for us all.

Cancer: breast cancer
written by: survivor

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H is for Hair Fairy: An Alphabet of Encouragement and Insight for Kids (and Kids at Heart!) With Cancer

Author: Kim Martin

Summary:

An alphabet book with a mission, this 32-page picture book will inspire, comfort, educate and encourage children being treated for cancer. Using colorful, warm, humorous illustrations and verse, the author employs the alphabet to feature different aspects of coping with cancer treatment. Many pages include practical information about where to find help or relief for children at this challenging time in their lives. Mr. and Mrs. Hair Fairy, creations of the author, are a humorous pair who visit cancer patients on the day they lose their hair and leave them a gift. They also watch over cancer patients and guide us through this heartwarming book of encouragement. Although written for children, the book is great for people of all ages. H is for Hair Fairy: An Alphabet of Encouragement and Insight for Kids (and Kids at Heart!) With Cancer kicks off the Hair Fairy Project created by the author in memory of her son, Nolan (1985-1993), who went through cancer twice before the age of eight, and in honor of her 17-year-old daughter Andrea, a cancer survivor, who finished treatment for bone cancer in 2004. This non-profit project brings joy and encouragement to children with cancer.

Cancer: childhood cancer
Children’s book

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The Chemotherapy Survival Guide: Everything You Need to Know to Get Through Treatment

Author: Judith McKay, Tammy Schacher RN OCN MSN

Summary:

When you’re facing cancer treatment, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and alone. Between the hospital or clinic environment and the medical terminology used by doctors and health care professionals, you may feel as though you’ve entered a foreign country.

Written by two experienced oncology nurses, this compassionate and comprehensive guide explains in plain English everything you need to know about your treatment, including what you can expect at each stage of chemotherapy and what you can do to prevent or minimize side effects. Packed with practical suggestions, nutritional advice, relaxation skills, and other techniques to help strengthen your body and calm your mind, The Chemotherapy Survival Guide is a must-have resource for anyone navigating this difficult time.

Topic: chemotherapy
written by: oncology nurse

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Why, Charlie Brown, Why?: A Story About What Happens When a Friend Is Very Ill

Author: Charles M. Schulz

Summary:

In this timeless classic, the Peanuts gang faces the serious sickness of a good friend with all the sensitivity, caring, and warmth that is the trademark of Charles Schultz’s work. Why, Charlie Brown, Why? is a heartwarming story of a child dealing with great challenges and profound questions.

When young Janice is diagnosed with leukemia, Charlie Brown looks for answers, Linus becomes her protector, Lucy doesn’t understand, Snoopy dons his ‘”World’s Greatest Surgeon” togs, and the whole gang does some soul searching. In his own inimitable style, Charles Schulz brings this touching tale to life. With charm and compassion, he tells of the effect of Janice’s illness on her family, her classmates, and, of course, her friends.

For more than a decade, Why, Charlie Brown, Why? has helped children to understand what happens when someone they love is sick. Now this wonderful book is available once again to serve as a guide for future generations.

Cancer: childhood cancer
Children’s book

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Both Sides of the Bedside: From Oncology Nurse to Patient, an RN’s Journey with Cancer

Author: Judith McKay, Tammy Schacher RN OCN MSN

Summary:

Oncology Nurse, Christine Magnus Moore, stood by the bedside of cancer patients for many years, caring for them as they endured major surgeries, chemotherapy and even the aftermath of grueling bone marrow transplants. They fought a battle with an enemy in their bodies: cancer. Some triumphed and some did not. Fighting for her patients’ health, she thought of herself as a soldier on the battlefield and was amazed at how they dealt with their difficult road and that they often thanked her with a smile.
As connected as she felt to her patients, she didn’t fully comprehend the courage it took to confront cancer every day until she became one of them.
Christine navigates the rough road involved with cancer treatment, experiencing exhaustion beyond belief, debilitating nausea and pain, and other side effects which are overwhelmingly more difficult than she’d ever imagined. Her road is arduous and humbling and she is taxed to her core in every way: emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually.
Living on the other side of the bedside, she feels vulnerable when some of the doctors and nurses she’s worked with become her caregivers…on top of all that her love life begins to present challenges as well.
Christine emerges a cancer survivor and gains a profound understanding of the suffering her patients had weathered, discovering that her life has been re-calibrated. She embraces her higher purpose with an amplified vigor and empathy to help others dealing with the disease. Through the darkest of times, she finds the deepest grief and tears can produce the greatest strength and passion.

Cancer: non-Hodgkin lymphoma
written by: oncology nurse, survivor

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