Having Children after Cancer by Gina Shaw c2011

Gina, the author, was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was almost 37. She did chemo. Now, she is a survivor and the mother of three children, both adopted and biological. Since she has "been there" she well understands the fears, hopes and concerns of having children after cancer. She is a medical writer and brings her skills to this wonderful book. She mentions current published research and tells about ongoing studies. She quotes experts from top institutions as well as survivors who have pursued various fertility options, including such things as freezing unfertilized eggs and strips of ovarian tissue. She talks about surrogate motherhood and how to navigate adoption agencies. She also includes a chapter on talking with your children about your cancer experience. This book is fabulous. It is not only for breast cancer survivors, but for survivors of other types of cancer as well, male and female.

From Zero to Mastectomy by Jackie Fox c2010

Zero is Stage 0 Breast Cancer, otherwise known as DCIS or Ductal Carcinoma in Situ. In spite of its good prognosis a DCIS journey can be emotionally wrenching and time intensive. The author of this book was 51 when diagnosed. She was lucky to have a supportive husband and good doctors. She hoped for an "easy" lumpectomy. After two surgeries with dirty margins a mastectomy was necessary. Her multistage reconstruction included "gummy bear" silicone implants, an uplift on her other breast and nipple reconstruction. Afterwards she elects to take tamoxifen. This is her personal story but includes quite a lot of factual information about DCIS. With so many women being diagnosed with DCIS this is a much needed book. It is well written and benefits from the author's quirky sense of humor.

Anti-Cancer: A New Way of Life by David Servan-Schreiber MD PhD c2008

This book is a must read for those of us who want to fight cancer on all fronts, not limiting ourselves to only medical treatment. . This includes readers who want to prevent cancer, readers who want to prevent a recurrence and readers who want to possibly slow cancer progression.

The author offers evidence that lifestyle has more effect on your risk of cancer and risk of cancer recurrence than does genetics. The author starts by explaining how the immune system is influenced by inflammatory processes and how lifestyle changes can help block tumor initiation and spread. The author promotes detoxification of carcinogenic substances, an anticancer diet, adequate physical activity, and a search for emotional peace.

What makes this book so exciting are the author's qualifications and the scope of his recommendations. He has mainstream prestigeous qualifications. He is a clinical professor of psychiatry at the Univ. of Pittsburgh school of medicine and is cofounder of the Center for Integrative Medicine. An equally compelling qualification is his personal journey. He has battled brain cancer, and a recurrence fifteen years later. His recurrence sparked his determination to investigate and implement a battle against cancer.

This book is a challenge to review your lifestyle. You may have already done surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. Do you now want to add lifestyle modifications and fight cancer on all fronts?

Inside Outside: A Physician's Journey With Breast Cancer by Janet Gilsdorf M.D. c2006

Have you ever wondered if your breast cancer journey would have been somehow easier if you were a physician? If so, you may enjoy reading this personal story. Dr. Gilsdorf is a pediatric infectious disease physician and her husband is a surgeon. Her story includes emotional, social and family details. It is well written, and along the way Dr. Gilsdorf does some very minor reader education as she explains some of what is happening to her. Mostly, this is the story of her first year including a lumpectomy and sentinel node biopsy--- one positive node, HER-2 positive. She has surgery, dirty margins, more surgery, chemotherapy (adriamycin and cytoxan then taxol), radiation and then tamoxifen. This is well written; it includes vulnerabilities, fears, everyday family and friend exchanges and also explains certain medical details. The medical details are a minor part of the book but are valuable for the reader who is undergoing her own journey and may appreciate this low key way of learning something extra while being caught up in the unfolding story. In spite of the fact that she is a doctor her care is not perfect. She has a few scares and some difficult long lasting side effects of treatment. Despite her honesty and soul searching, I couldn't quite connect with her. If you read this let me know how you react both to the author and to her journey. When you are diagnosed with breast cancer "Is it easier if you are a physician?" I don't think so.

When Life Hands you Lemons make Lemon Meringue Pie by JoAnna M. Lund c2005

This is a very upbeat book. It is a good read for anyone with any stage of breast cancer. The author has stage IV, Her-2 positive, inflammatory breast cancer. She has confounded her doctor's predictions and is in remission. Her story includes homey details, quotes from her favorite people, and her own personal recipes. (She is an avid cook and likes to set a pretty table.) This book almost sparkles and leaves the reader feeling refreshed. Highly recommended.

Nordie's at Noon by Patti Balwanz, Kim Carlos, Jennifer Johnson, and Jana Peters c2006

Four women, all diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 35, meet at Nordstroms for lunch to support one another, and to craft this book. When diagnosed Patti, an IT consultant, age 24, is single, and bouncing through life with the nickname "Tigger". Kim, age 30 is married and the mother of a young son. Jennifer, age 27 is married and 5 months pregnant. She does chemo while pregnant. Janna - nickname Jana Banana - is 27, a registered nurse, and engaged. We learn of the impact breast cancer has on each of their lives and what life philosophies sustain them. This book is as potent as a glass of brandy.

Cancer Vixen by Marisa Acocella Marchetto c2006

The author/illustrator, age 43, is about to get married (first marriage) when she finds a breast lump. She is a cartoonist living in New York working for The New Yorker and Glamour. So of course, her story is told in cartoons. At first, for me, her fast lane "modern" life style complete with shoe fetish did not resonate but I kept reading. Quite soon, I decided this was a quality worthwhile book. No insurance, an overbearing but loving mom, a Catholic upbringing, accurate details about surgery (lumpectomy), chemo and radiation combined with personal anguish, self assessment and tidbits about 9/11 and gourmet food. This is quite a combo and is well expressed in cartoons. Cartoons are not always funny. Sometimes their purpose is to cut to the heart of a matter or to make something memorable. In telling her story through this media Marisa creates images that you are not likely to forget, for example she portrays herself with chemobrain. Oh yes, in spite of the dire predictions of some of her friends and her own worries her fiance is very supportive and they do get married.

Food For Thought - Healing Foods to Savor by Shelia Kealey, Vicky Newman, and Susan Faerber c2006

Most of the information and the recipes in this cookbook were developed for the WHEL study (Women's Healthy Eating and Living study). Now that the data collection phase of this study is closed, the University of California San Diego (one of the six centers involved in the study) has published this cookbook and is offering counseling to women interested in pursuing dietary intervention after breast cancer diagnosis. The full results of the study will be available in 2007 or 2008. As well as wonderful recipes, the cookbook is chock full of valuable information on the cancer fighting potential of various foods. Highly recommended is the "Dilled Salmon Salad with Peas" on page 99. The Rosebuds copy of this cookbook was obtained from the University of California San Diego bookstore. It was worth the effort it took to obtain it.

Book reviews by Linda Yarger