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My Breast: One Woman's Cancer Story Hardcover – October, 1992

4.6 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Like so many women diagnosed with breast cancer, Joyce Wadler, a former writer for People magazine, had few known risk factors. She exercised. She had no family history of the disease. But when she was 44 years old, she had a malignant tumor "the size of a robin's egg" removed from her left breast. The eventual diagnosis was "ductal carcinoma with medullary features." Because of her early detection, aggressive treatment, and good prognosis, she called it "my maybe-not- the-best-but-still-pretty-terrific-whatever-the-hell-it-is cancer."

What gets Wadler through chemo and radiation--and later a fight against ovarian cancer--is her questioning nature, her pluck, and her occasionally mordant sense of humor: she describes such things as being "nuked" in radiation therapy and accidentally arriving at the morgue on her way through the winding hallways of New York's Roosevelt Hospital. She also quizzes her doctor about the "street value" of Ziphrain, the anti-nausea drug that also elicits a euphoric high. While her sometimes-boyfriend Nick is maddeningly insensitive to her needs, she's very much helped out in the humor department by her friend Herb, now a comedy writer. Wadler half- jokingly tells Herb that if they had children, she would raise them, and he responds with, "And I would lower them."

Wadler's book is worth reading not only for the many laughs, but also for the no-baloney attitude she takes with her doctors. She questioned her doctors' treatment decisions and diagnoses throughout her ordeal, and researched her options like an investigative reporter. Emulating Wadler's behavior and utilizing the resources she mentions could very well be lifesaving for women in the same situation. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

This surprisingly upbeat, witty and informative account by former Washington Post New York bureau chief Walder is about her breast cancer: the excision of a cancerous breast tumor and nodes; radiation and chemotherapy--described through an objective journalist's research and with an acute eye for detail; and a candidly personal narrative of how the terrifying experience affected her emotionally and spiritually. Walder's story also includes rueful and funny tales of her post-cancer love life. As she reported in a shorter, April 1992 New York magazine version of the story, although the cancer has not recurred, the "dress rehearsal of her mortality" and the "battle scar over her heart" have heightened her appreciation of life. In an afterword, noted oncologist Susan M. Love, while endorsing preventive measures of detection, warns that in women over 50 mammography detects only 30% of tumors, with an even lower rate of detection in younger women.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 179 pages
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley; First Edition edition (October 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0201632837
  • ISBN-13: 978-0201632835
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.2 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,369,077 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By A Customer on August 29, 1999
Format: Paperback
"The surgeon took it out using a local, and when he was done, I asked to see it. It was the size of a robin's egg, with the gray brain-like matter which give it its name, medullary cancer. It rested in the middle of a larger ball of pink and white breast tissue, sliced down the center like a hard-boiled egg...and I looked at it hard, trying to figure it out. We did not know it was cancer until twenty minutes later, when they had almost finished stitching me up and the pathology report came back, and then I was especially glad I had looked. Mano a mano, eyeball to eyeball. This is a modern story. Me and my cancer. I won."
Any book that starts off this way has got to be a terrific read and this one is. A sharp-eyed, witty, chin-up personal account by a journalist who keeps it close to home but happens to be a great mediator of the graphic details and the medical context. Not many breast cancer patients will be lucky enough to have the rare, unaggressive medullary form that Joyce Wadler thought she had, but even she had her diagnosis hedged later in the game and thus underwent the full round of surgery, radiation and chemo. Will appeal to: All breast cancer readers, well or ill.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
She makes a world of her experiences getting her breast cancer dealt with, always with a light-ish touch and sometimes even the great humor she's known for. It certainly helped me get through my breast cancer.
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By A Customer on February 1, 2001
Format: Paperback
Published in 1992, Ms. Wadler's story is engrossing, and especially interesting when she sticks to her cancer and its treatments, instead of digressing into descriptions of her rather flaky relationships with three, on-again, off-again boyfriends. Based on the author's upbeat yet realistic attitude, and the fact that she had an apparently slow-growing, "good" type of malignancy--medullary cancer--I would suppose that she is alive and thriving today.
"My Breast" is a fast read, and one that would be particularly appropriate for anyone who has been diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer. The more frightening aspects of Ms. Wadler's diagnosis and treatment are well balanced by her sense of humor and positive attitude.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Awesome first person narrative.
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Format: Paperback
Good book pretty well written..though I thought more could have done by way of research. which it was written back in the early 90s..it is a good book though.
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