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When Your Life Is Touched by Cancer: Practical Advice and Insights for Patients, Professionals, and Those Who Care Paperback – February 11, 2014
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"Riter's book of valuable, compassionate advice focuses on making the cancer journey as good as it can be. His thoughtful communication strategies for patients, families, friends, and professionals are practical; his insights from various perspectives, vital. I recommend it highly for patient education centers and for public, health, and hospital libraries."
-Candace Ford Gray, Executive Director, PlaneTree Health Library
"Riter's uniquely smart-but-folksy voice works well when tackling straightforward issues like blood donations or complex, existential issues like the nature of hope after cancer. . . .If you are looking for a gift to give people whose lives are touched by cancer, When Your Life is Touched by Cancer is just what the doctor ordered."
- Dr. Wendy Harpham, M.D., cancer survivor, and author of When a Parent Has Cancer: A Guide to Caring for Your Children
The writing distills the author's personal experiences as a cancer survivor who, as the director of a cancer resource center, has also listened to hundreds of other survivors tell their stories. The book is stripped bare of thudding statistics and academic jargon, situating us in the realm of everyday language where most of us actually live. And it captures the reality of a complex and varied illness experience with compassionate good humor.
-Dr. Kate Scannell, Bay Area News Group.
"...Riter's advice is, in many cases, refreshingly different. For example, in response to well-wishers' exhortations to "be positive," he admits: "I cringe whenever I hear those words." ...These brief passages are of an appropriate length for stressed or fatigued cancer patients and those surrounding them. They convey the right mixture of hope and realism with the welcome addition of humor."
This book offers a wonderful sense of community that comes from connecting with an empathetic fellow cancer survivor who "knows the ropes" and is graciously willing to share what he has learned along the way to help you avoid the pitfalls that lie ahead. In the final analysis, When Your Life is Touched by Cancer is a 132 page cancer support group between two soft covers.
-- Alysa Cummings, cancer survivor and author of Greetings From Cancerland
The essays are short, and for a reason, Riter notes in an introduction. “This seems to work for people just diagnosed with cancer because they tend to have brief attention spans,” he writes. “Their minds are spinning in a thousand directions and they tend to browse rather than read a book cover to cover.”
With its friendly tone and wide range of information, this book is a good find for those grappling with cancer.
- Beth Fand Incollingo, CURE Magazine
When Your Life is Touched By Cancer: Practical Advice and Insights for Patients, Professionals and Those Who Care is a special focus on the first days that follow a cancer diagnosis: a time of heady fear, despair, and confusion. The author is a cancer survivor who considers the issues that accompany a cancer diagnosis, following patient experiences from that initial moment through treatment and beyond and offering specific insights. From how to discuss cancer with friends, family and medical professionals to breaking the news to others and handling what happens when treatment is over, When Your Life is Touched By Cancer, more so than others, discusses the emotions accompanying diagnosis and is designed to be picked up and put down randomly, at will. This in itself is a special feature that contrasts sharply with other cancer books that could prove more overwhelming in detail and require a progressive approach: the beauty here lies in a flexibility that is just the ticket for a world newly changed.
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Top customer reviews
This book is perfect for my situation. The volume is a slim book at only 125 pages of text, but covers all the emotional and physical highlights and lowlights of the cancer experience and how folks (even those closer or further than myself) can support someone with cancer. This book helps with a variety of topics, both emotional and physical experiences and gives pointers on the right things to say and some topics to avoid. Especially helpful for people like me, who get tongue tied but have good intentions.
Hopefully the insights given in this easy read will ease your path into full recovery. You have my blessings and prayers though I do not know you!
ARC received by the publisher and NetGALLEY.
The nine chapters of this book are made up of various columns author Bob Riter wrote for the Ithaca Journal newspaper about his cancer as well as cancer in general. At age 40 Bob had breast cancer, had a mastectomy, and treatment. He wrote about, not only his experience, but the various cancer questions he has heard from patients or their loved ones over the years. This is book that is not meant to be read in one sitting. The short chapters are designed to be read here and there as the mood or need strikes. This is especially true in the beginning because the patient and loved ones are over whelmed.
The first chapter addresses that stunning "Just Diagnosed" time in those first few days after the doctor or, in our case here, five doctors tell you the news. Along with the aftermath and dealing with that, the chapter explains some questions that are really okay to ask, whether a second opinion is warranted and how to go about it, and the power of positive thinking and hope.
Starting on page 16 with "Chapter 2: Talking About Your Cancer" the author gives some advice on how to tell the kids. Just as hard can be telling your parents and the in-laws. How does one deal with telling others at work and in one's social circle? Their expectations and their concerns? How does one deal with that well-meaning look of pity that cancer patients get all the time. These are just some of the common topics dealt with in this chapter.
"Chapter 3: Treatment Choices" opens with some words on alternative cancer therapies and alternative practitioners. Clinical trials are covered here as is a little bit about various treatment options and quality of life.
Communicating with your health care providers is hugely important and that is the subject of "Chapter 4: Your Health-Care Team." Beginning on page 39, the author has advice for patients and medical providers on how to communicate effectively. Communication both ways between the patient and the team is incredibly important and that thought is reinforced repeatedly through this chapter.
"Chapter 5: Caring for Yourself During Treatment" is possibly the most important chapter in the book--- in my opinion. Dealing with the depression, the anxiety, the stress, and all the rest of it is just part of this chapter. Also included are explanations of some of the treatment side effects such as "chemo brain" as well as the various physiological transitions of the disease.
Relationships are an element of the entire book, but get special consideration in "Chapter 6: Cancer and Relationships." Starting on page 65 the chapter addresses being single with cancer followed by addressing what it is like to be a relationship. What that means for the patient as well as the spouse. Specifically addressed in the chapter is how men often want to "fix it" for their spouse and the fact that is not possible brings its own burden and frustration. It certainly has been an issue for me.
You finished your treatment. Your cancer is gone and yet you are still tired and the mind is still very muddled. You should feel better, you think, and yet things seem weird and you miss your treatment team. You may have a case of the post treatment blahs and that is covered in "Chapter 7: After Treatment." Dealing with survivor's guilt is covered here. Also covered is how to cope if or when the cancer returns as well as dealing with cancer as a chronic disease.
"Chapter Eight: Reflections on the Cancer Experience" begins on page 83 and covers how folks responded to the diagnosis of cancer in others. There are a lot of good people out there doing wonderful things that one never hears about in the daily diet of politics, wars, and crime in the nation's media. Also covered here is the power of support from others and how much it means for patients and their families. As noted in earlier chapters, the power of hope is part of this chapter as is relishing the moment of now.
Often one does not know really what to say when a person they love or know has cancer. It isn't easy. "Chapter Nine: Supporting Others with Cancer" is all about that in every aspect. The difficulties of being a caretaker and trying to help someone from a long distance are just some of the areas covered here in the final chapter of the book.
A two page resource list comes next followed by a five page index.
The subtitle of this short book, Practical Advice and Insights for Patients, Professionals and Those Who Care makes it very clear what the book is designed to do. The book delivers across the board in all aspects and is very much a supportive and caring read. I truly wish something like this had been around on Thanksgiving Day 2011 when Sandi was diagnosed with cancer the first time. It would have helped.
Reading this book now months after her cancer came back with a vicious vengeance in late 2012 and everything we have been through since was an incredibly emotional experience. Our lives weren't just touched by cancer; they were run over by a 50 ton cancer bulldozer. A bulldozer that has made repeated passes over us and continues to loudly snarl and spins its treads in preparation to roll over us again. So, it is impossible for me to be remotely objective about cancer or this book. Cancer isn't something I can look at dispassionately and be objective about as I have such rage about the disease and what it has done to us. While the author may be unsettled by equating the terms of war and military combat with having cancer, for us, it is a war. It is a flat out physically and emotionally grueling day by day war where we measure everything by various test results and how she feels.
All I can say is When Your life Is Touched By Cancer: Practical Advice and Insights for Patients, Professionals and Those Who Care by Bob Riter is an incredible book. I hope and pray you will never need it, but if you ever do, it's good to know it is out there and can help ease everything just a little bit.
Material supplied by the good folks of the Plano Texas Public Library System.
Kevin R. Tipple ©2014
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It's got really great general information for patients, their caregivers, family and friends.
My mom and my best friend are currently undergoing cancer treatments, one has the "good" cancer, the other one a "bad" cancer. I found some really great tips in this book on how to support them, without being annoying about it.
I'm so glad I read this book.