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My Mother's Breast: Daughters Face Their Mothers' Cancer Paperback – April 1, 1999


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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

When a woman finds out her mother has breast cancer, her world becomes a tornado, whirling with fears of her mother's disfigurement, pain, and death, and the panic and certainty that she will be next to develop the disease. Award-winning journalist Laurie Tarkan (whose mother died of a liver disorder when Tarkan was 11 years old) interviewed many women whose mothers had breast cancer. She chose 16 daughters' stories for My Mother's Breast, sprinkling each narrative with her commentary and that of psychologists.

Many of the mother-daughter stories are love stories, but some are not. Felicia's mother told her, "One reason I have breast cancer is because you kicked my breasts when you were little." Kathie's mother hid from her the fact that she was dying, so Kathie was never able to say goodbye. Some of the daughters who are their mother's support system can't find support themselves, like Jill: "My mother had breast cancer, my father was a wreck, my brother [was] an alcoholic, and my grandmother was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. My boyfriend was giving me problems on top of that." Not all the daughters are models of virtue and emotional stability, either: 17-year-old Stacy was a self-destructive rebel even through her mother's chemotherapy; 13-year-old Julie became bulimic.

Both the mothers and the daughters run the gamut of personalities and emotions. If you have a mother with breast cancer, you'll understand that you're not alone with your fears and concerns, and these real-life examples will enhance your understanding of your experience. --Joan Price

From Publishers Weekly

Tarkan, a health and medical writer, describes the emotional turmoil and special concerns of daughters whose mothers have been diagnosed with breast cancer, drawing upon the personal reflections of those same women. According to Tarkan, the way daughters are affected by their mothers' breast cancer is as varied as the women themselves. While some of these daughters deal with their mother's cancer with optimism and hope, others fall into a deep depression, and several go so far as to avoid their mothers altogether. Many daughters become overly concerned about their own mortality, knowing that they are at a higher risk for developing the disease. Mothers describe their own hopes, fears and concerns about their daughters, who, most often, have cared for them during the course of their disease. To help these daughters help themselves, Tarkan gives information culled from cancer experts and other health-care professionals on the real risks associated with breast cancer and reducing that risk, when possible. Whatever the individual approach to therapy, Tarkan highly recommends participation in support groups. A sensitive discussion on whether daughters should be genetically tested for breast cancer and an emphasis on the need to take emotional as well as physical care of oneself makes this important reading for daughters as well as their families and friends. Also useful are Tarkan's glossary of procedures, terms used when dealing with breast cancer and frequently used chemotherapeutics, plus an extensive resource section.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Taylor Trade Publishing; 1 edition (April 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0878332278
  • ISBN-13: 978-0878332274
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,190,831 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Its content was powerful, honest and informative.
Valerie Hodge-Williams
I now refer this book to anyone dealing with cancer of any kind, sometimes I will even buy it and give it to the person.
M. Beechan
My daughters were both happy to read their copy of the book.
Carolyn Cutrell

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Valerie Hodge-Williams on November 9, 1999
Format: Paperback
I read it almost in one sitting. I literally could not put it down. The book was extremely well written and very easy to read. Its content was powerful, honest and informative. It moved with grace from one chapter to the next and never became bogged down in detail or data. From the perspective of a mother who has had breast cancer, it was painful to see, in black and white, so many of the issues that my daughters have had to face. I think any mother and daughter who have had an experience with prolonged and serious illness of the mother, would greatly benefit from reading your book. In fact, I was so impressed with its content that I am going to buy three extra copies and give one to each of my girls. I think it will help them to better understand their experiences, their feelings, and their behaviors during my many illnesses. I hope it will help them with the confusion, rage and guilt that I know has often assailed them. From the perspective of a breast cancer survivor, who was also a daughter, niece and cousin of women with ovarian cancer, I thought your final chapters contained incredibly important information. I know they would have helped me fifteen years ago. I would recommend it, and will do so, to anyone.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 11, 1999
Format: Paperback
Laurie Tarkan's book brings attention to a serious but rarely discussed issue--the unique experience of women whose mothers develop breast cancer. These women often have to cope with the loss of one of their most significant relationships at a young age as well as the knowledge that they may also be at increased risk for breast cancer. Through compelling personal stories of daughters of women with breast cancer, Laurie Tarkan's book explores the emotional and medical repercussions with intelligence and sensitivity. The book provides expert information to help these women assess their breast cancer risk and informs them of the most up-to-date options for reducing their risk. Women whose mothers have had breast cancer (and others who've had to cope with a serious loss in their lives) will find real help in dealing with their often overwhelming feelings.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Carolyn Cutrell on March 29, 2000
Format: Paperback
My daughters were both happy to read their copy of the book. Each took with them different portions that were helpful. My oldest daughter plans on giving the book to one of her students who is now 15 and going through a similar experience with her mother. My youngest, said she was greatly helped by the book. Thank you so much. Carolyn
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By M. Beechan on March 27, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Wow, I wish this book had been available when my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1975 when I was ten years old. Her struggle lasted until 1988 when I was 23 and she passed away. This book not only helped me come to terms with my mothers passing and my feelings, but helped when my mother-in-law was diagnosed with lung cancer and my father was diagnosed with pancrease and liver cancer within 6 months of each other. I was the primary care for all three of them and took care of them along with hospiac up until their deaths. I now refer this book to anyone dealing with cancer of any kind, sometimes I will even buy it and give it to the person. Every single person I have referred or given this book to has said that they feel much better and are able to deal with life. They in turn refer the book to people they know.
My thanks and appreciation to the author for placing these stories into a book.
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Format: Paperback
Finding out that your mother has breast cancer is one of the most scary and lonely experiences that I can imagine. When my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1996, I was worried about her prognosis and was equally concerned about my future health. Even worse, I felt utterly alone, since I didn't know anyone my age (26 at the time) who had had a parent face a life-threatening disease, particularly one that could have profound ramifications for their own health.
In this ground-breaking book, Laurie Tarkan introduces the reader to several women (myself included) who have faced their mother's cancer at different stages in their lives and in different ways as well as to psychologists who specialize in treating the daughters of breast cancer patients. In this way, Ms. Tarkan presents the range of emotions that daughters feel during their mother's battles with cancer and, most importantly, cuts throught the veil of isolation and silence that so often surrounds these daughters.
I highly recommend this book to any woman whose mother has (or has had) breast cancer. I only wish that a book like this had been available during my mother's struggle with this disease. (After fighting for 2.5 years, she died on April 10, 1999.)
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