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A Breast Cancer Alphabet [Kindle Edition]

Madhulika Sikka
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $19.00
Kindle Price: $9.78
You Save: $9.22 (49%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

A definitive and approachable guide to life during, and after, breast cancer
The biggest risk factor for breast cancer is simply being a woman.  Madhulika Sikka's A Breast Cancer Alphabet offers a new way to live with and plan past the hardest diagnosis that most women will ever receive: a personal, practical, and deeply informative look at the road from diagnosis to treatment and beyond.

What Madhulika Sikka didn't foresee when initially diagnosed, and what this book brings to life so vividly, are the unexpected and minute challenges that make navigating the world of breast cancer all the trickier.  A Breast Cancer Alphabet is an inspired reaction to what started as a personal predicament.

This A-Z guide to living with breast cancer goes where so many fear to tread: sex (S is for Sex - really?), sentimentality (J is for Journey - it's a cliché we need to dispense with), hair (H is for Hair - yes, you can make a federal case of it) and work (Q is for Quitting - there'll be days when you feel like it).  She draws an easy-to-follow, and quite memorable, map of her travels from breast cancer neophyte to seasoned veteran.

As a prominent news executive, Madhulika had access to the most cutting edge data on the disease's reach and impact.  At the same time, she craved the community of frank talk and personal insight that we rely on in life's toughest moments.  This wonderfully inventive book navigates the world of science and story, bringing readers into Madhulika's mind and experience in a way that demystifies breast cancer and offers new hope for those living with it.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Breast-cancer patients will fall in love with Sikka, executive producer of NPR’s Morning Edition and a funny, chatty, and honest storyteller. She opens with her own diagnosis in December 2010, on the very day she interviews President Obama in the Oval Office and during the week Elizabeth Edwards dies of the disease. Sikka organizes the rest of her book about “Cancerland” alphabetically. A is for “Anxiety”; G is for “Guilty”; S is for “Sex.” She succeeds in writing the kind of book she wanted: “A little pick-me-up that I could turn to—nothing too long or scientific or self-indulgent. . . . A short book that wouldn’t tax my chemo-addled brain.” She bluntly calls a mastectomy “an amputation of the breast”; calls her plastic surgeon her “very own Michelangelo”; reveals that her fingernails turned a blackish purple during treatment; and humorously notes the silver lining to losing hair during chemo (“Leg hair? Well, no waxing for the duration of my treatment so not so bad. The same for underarm hair”). She comes across as a loving mom (to two daughters), wife (to a Georgetown history professor, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2000), and friend. Just what the doctor ordered. --Karen Springen


Booklist Top 10 Science & Health Book of the Year

"Breast-cancer patients will fall in love with Sikka…a funny, chatty, and honest storyteller….Just what the doctor ordered."Booklist (starred)

"[Sikka's] charming alphabetic a warm and fuzzy friend to keep close during the cancer journey. 'B' is for buying multiple copies." - Library Journal (starred)

"Sikka's voice is calm and earnest, poetic and descriptive, and occasionally even uplifting. Those who find cancer in their lives, whether first-hand or through a friend or family member, will appreciate the raw but supportive voice that emerges here."- Publishers Weekly

"Sometimes humorous, always honest and straightforward, this little book offers the perfect combination of practical advice and personal musings to help any woman, her family and her friends handle the complicated road through Cancerland."- Kirkus Reviews

"A Breast Cancer Alphabet is like having a chat with someone who’s walked the walk and has a thing or two to share with you about it which just might make your walk a bit less scary."- Nancy's Point

"Thank goodness for Madhulika Sikka! She is neither a warrior nor a hero. Her breast cancer made her neither sexy nor spiritually enlightened. She is simply a real woman with a real illness who tells it true: with grief, anger, wit and great authenticity." - Peggy Orenstein, author of Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches From the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture

“A Breast Cancer Alphabet is a brisk, user-friendly ABC of dealing with the disaster of cancer and how to get through it with a smile. It is a remarkably insightful and sensitive guide to making the best of the worst, all delivered with Madhulika’s wit and vital energy.” - Tina Brown, former editor of Vanity Fair, the New Yorker, and the Daily Beast

"Madhulika Sikka is the honest-talking-advice-giving-big sister-sage-support group that every girl needs to help navigate the world of 'cancerland'. A Breast Cancer Alphabet is the definitive how-to go-to book." - Marisa Acocella Marchetto, author  of Cancer Vixen

"Madhulika Sikka's A Breast Cancer Alphabet is brilliantly researched, smart, and personal - an unvarnished primer of what every woman needs to know about the diagnosis, treatment, and consequences of living with breast cancer. Her practical advice  from "A" to "Z" is exactly what I wish I'd known when I was first diagnosed. With the trained eye and ear of a top-flight journalist, she demystifies the disease, telling you everything you forgot to ask that no one else will share. Reading it will help you recognize, and even laugh, at your worst fears. "B" is for "Brava", Madhulika - for your honesty and creativity in guiding us on a journey none of us chose to take. It is a lot easier when you have A Breast Cancer Alphabet at your side." - Andrea Mitchell, NBC News Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent

"This useful and often amusing little book should be the first present you give someone who’s been diagnosed with breast cancer.  Its practicality extends from sound advice (“drugs are your friends”) to the inclusion of pages for notes at the end.   By presenting her own experience in a wry and matter-of-fact manner, Madhulika Sikka removes taboos in talking about sex, or looks or the desire on some days to just quit soldiering on through the whole deal.  It won’t make having breast cancer easier but it will make the dread disease and its treatments less mysterious.  That’s a gift indeed." - Cokie Roberts, journalist and author of We Are Our Mothers' Daughters

"Breast cancer is a topic no woman wants to learn about first-hand. But should it happen to you, Madhulika Sikka’s A Breast Cancer Alphabet is an ideal primer for before, during and after the experience. Offering the kind of real-world advice that can only come from someone who’s lived to tell the tale, Sikka’s book is required reading for anyone in search of a book that will bring you up to speed quickly, gently, and with genuine empathy."- Micki Myers, author of It's Probably Nothing...

"'T' should be 'Thank you, Madhulika,' for writing a witty, practical and honest book. Too many cancer books out there gloss over the uncomfortable realities of living with a life-threatening illness. A Breast Cancer Alphabet is a must-have for women with cancer." - Suleika Jaouad, New York Times columnist

Product Details

  • File Size: 8733 KB
  • Print Length: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Crown (February 25, 2014)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00EX4E2KI
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #569,269 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For Mom March 5, 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
My mom is a month from her diagnosis and two weeks into her first chemo treatments. She said that although not everything is the same, the perspective provided by Sikka is spot on and helpful.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very relatable read February 26, 2014
By Cyndi W
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Though I am only part way through my treatment and have yet to visit all of Cancerland, it's as if Madhulika spent some time inside my head while writing this terrific book that includes thoughts, feelings, and tips based on her own experience with breast cancer. While everyone will have a slightly different experience, I suspect that most women making their way through breast cancer treatment will feel the same. This quick, easy read tells it like it is, and does so without sugar coating the many challenges of having breast cancer. The illustrations for each letter of the alphabet are clever and add a touch of levity to the book, and the note taking pages at the end will be a good place for readers to memorialize their own letters of the breast cancer alphabet.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better late than never March 9, 2014
By cmac
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book was published two months after I finished radiation. I wish it had been available earlier. It has so many great thoughts and truths. I found myself shaking my head in agreement and thinking, "I wasn't alone in the way I felt." Thank you for this book. I have already recommended it to someone just beginning her battle.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The name Madhulika Sikkah has been a familiar, but faceless part of every morning as I wake to National Public Radio's "All Things Considered." I was pleased as I read her book to put a face and real humanity to her public presence. Her book is part painful memoir, part social commentary decrying the culture that surrounds breast cancer, and part intuitive advice for a woman facing breast cancer. Her writing is surprisingly fresh and feels authentic without sentimentality. Her ability to pick the exact word to convey subtle shades of meaning makes this far more than a simple advice book. It is thinking that could apply more broadly to any type of loss in life, not only the oh too common disease of breast cancer. The book exceeded my expectations!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So good!! March 1, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
How very much I appreciated Sikka's straightforward and honest discussion of cancer. I am just beginning my treatment for breast cancer and her stories and advice is so helpful.
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Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
From a man's perspective whose loved one receives a diagnosis of this dreadful disease, this is a very useful overview of a very complex, difficult subject. Having been a husband of a wife with brain cancer and close to two women who received a diagnosis of breast cancer, I know the value of having an overview. Ms Sikla has provided a very readable, accurate description of what she went through, and I found much of value here.

Of course, each person's experience will be different, the medical facts and medical providers and the medical facts will change over time. During the 34 years of my first journey, we got to know six leading cancer institutions all too well, were under the care of four different neurologists, three different surgeons, seven different diagnosticians, and underwent a number of procedures. No single book could possibly cover all of that material.

So, the as a first step for men -- and I am writing this review solely from a man's perspective -- this is a very good starting point, at least it was for me. Other sources of information that I found helpful in understanding both cancers included the websites of the American Cancer Society, Susan B Komen and Memorial Sloan Kettering (extremely useful even if your partner's treating institution is not Memorial). Links in the first Comment.

[I've asked several women with this terrible problem; they all agree that this book doesn't really address their experiences. But, from experience, when I got hepatitis, I had no knowledge about what my liver really did. Believe me, I learned; as someone once wrote, "The knowledge that you will be hanged in the morning, focuses your mind wonderfully."

But, let me repeat: for this man, the book had great value in giving me a starting point.
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This book dives deep into the world so many don’t want to talk about – Cancerland, as Sikka calls it. A Breast Cancer Alphabet is a wonderfully user friendly ABC of how to deal with the devastating news of having cancer. It will even help you try to get through it with a smile. This is advice from A to Z that should be read before, during, and after you are throttled with the unexpected news this is now your life.

I wish I had been able to read this book six months ago. That was when we found out a family member had found a lump and would be diagnosed with Breast Cancer. We have now gone through some of the stages talked about in this book and are still in the process of finishing the Chemotherapy. So much of the information would have been beneficial for us all to have read and known before hand. The way it is laid out makes it easy to understand and gives you something to shake your head at and say, “Yep, that is exactly what is going on. Glad I’m not the only one.” The personal experiences put forth on these pages couldn’t have been easy to share with the world; but for everyone who reads them; their experiences might be that much better for it.

It is a shame that we even have to have the need for a book such as this but we do. It is nice that it is given in such a way that it is easy to understand without tons of medical jargon filling the pages leaving me even more confused than I already was. I enjoy that something like this cuts straight to the point, gives me the facts and lets me process the information. Sikka did just that in a fun style that made me forget I was reading about a pretty depressing topic overall. This book is well written and needs to be read by anyone dealing with Breast cancer, or any cancer for that matter in my opinion, in any way. It will help and when dealing with such a thing that help is something we need most.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars ABC Alphabet rd of truths
As a bc survivor I found this to be an enlightening read with lots of truths. Perfect way to have time to be lighthearted. Read more
Published 1 month ago by roxann
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 2 months ago by JM Blosser
3.0 out of 5 stars O is for okay
This is a light, quick read. The author writes well enough. I did not find it riveting or engrossing. I feel she glossed over a lot of things. Read more
Published 4 months ago by C. Ledger
5.0 out of 5 stars Comforting & Empowering to those suffering...
Not many of us can say that cancer hasn’t touched our lives in some way whether it be in our own life or in the lives of our loved ones. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Darlene @ Peeking Between the Pages
5.0 out of 5 stars Honest, emotional and practical tips for those with cancer AND their...
During this month of October, I felt it was especially appropriate to share this book. A BREAST CANCER ALPHABET isn't just for the person with cancer, but for those who love and... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Stacie Gorkow
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
My gf found it very informative!!
Published 5 months ago by troll96
5.0 out of 5 stars Purchased this after seeing the author on a television program ...
Purchased this after seeing the author on a television program. Gave it as a gift to our eldest daughter who is now a breast cancer survivor. She found it very helpful. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Muriel Beltz
3.0 out of 5 stars A primer on breast cancer
As a breast cancer survivor, I was eager to support this author and buy the book. While each cancer survivor's journey is unique, there are many things that we share: the shock... Read more
Published 6 months ago by E. Chambers
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I'm glad my wife is A little bit better after two years battling triple negative breast cancer.
Published 6 months ago by Robert Severson
5.0 out of 5 stars bought 3 as gifts for friends who were in treatment ...
bought 3 as gifts for friends who were in treatment. They shared that it was truly right on regarding all emotions, etc. I will continue to buy them for others. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Alice L. Gerber
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