The book: big and fact-filled, this is perhaps THE definitive guide to navigating the confusing and often terrifying world of cancer diagnosis and treatment. It is divided into comprehensible chapters with plenty of handy lists and tables. It is full of the kinds of questions you need to ask if you have a cancer diagnosis, or if you're trying to help a loved one battle the disease. It allows you to think about your condition honestly at every step along the way, and get on with the process of dealing with it.
The authors: Peter Teeley served as press secretary to Vice President George Bush. He received state of the art treatment fo Stage III cancer as part of a clinical trial. Philip Bashe has written or co-written seventeen books on self-help, biography, autobiography and popular culture.
Originally published in 2000, the Guide is now updated to include new drugs and therapies. There are some encouraging new outposts on the journey to find a cure for all cancers, but the war is still being waged in laboratories, clinics, and the minds and hearts of individual patients and their families.
Teeley writes about his battle with cancer, starting at age 51 when he was told he had a 50/50 chance of survival. That story will inspire determination on the part of readers. But
this book is not a personal story; it's a user-friendly reference.
Recommendations offered at the beginning of the book: learn about your disease and find out about clinical trials. Both these strategies are analyzed in detail. Get a second opinion . Work with a team. Get medicines to help you deal with side effects of your chosen treatment. Strive to stay emotionally balanced. Accept help from the people who care about you. And make sure you understand your insurance policy. All of these recommendations are backed up with factual information throughout the book.
The Guide lists the 25 most common forms of cancer and analyzes why they occur, how they are likely to affect you, and what to expect from the treatment options. It will help you differentiate between surgery, radiation and chemotherapy choices. It explains hormone and immunotherapies. It talks about alternative therapies, including how to know if your medical choice is mere quackery. There is a compendium of cancer organizations and hotlines, including those for specific conditions. Easily understandable tables list side effects of all standard cancer therapies.
The section regarding emotional needs is a highlight. People are still embarrassed by cancer, causing some, even close family, to avoid visiting or talking for fear of saying or doing something hurtful to the patient
- whereas "a casual acquaintance from down the street" might suddenly jump in to provide meals, visits, support. There is advice for family and partners of a person battling cancer: apologize immediately and get on with the important stuff. Don't assume that you have to avoid intimacy. Go on dates. Find time to be together. If you're a friend looking for ways to help, go for a walk with the patient, offer to go shopping or to the pharmacy. Locate resources and pass them along.
The financial advice in the book would also be invaluable to anyone facing the staggering costs of treatment. There is advice on navigating the healthcare system and even getting new insurance.
It seems to me, as an outsider, currently, to the cancer world, that this book would be a necessary, vital and appreciated addition to the arsenal of weapons needed in the struggle against cancer. Cancer patients deserve cutting-edge, up-to-date empowering facts. That is what the Cancer Survival Guide supplies.