It wasn’t until my close childhood friend died of breast cancer several years ago, that I really started to take notice of this disease and its devastating consequences for so many women. While I’ve tried to educate myself about breast cancer as much as possible, its possible causes and various treatments, I think we as women learn more about the disease by sharing information collectively. This also helps to educate the broader demographic than talking only to those directly affected by the disease.
So I was recently intrigued to hear about a book, The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Breast Cancer, which empowers breast cancer patients with knowledge to make more informed decisions. It was written by Dr. Janet Maker, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011 and did extensive research to understand all her treatment options, survival outcomes for each option, and all the side effects, so she could make informed decisions about her own breast cancer treatment. This book has now received 10 prestigious awards.
“I’m very pleased to know that my book has made a positive impact on the lives of women experiencing breast cancer, as well as on the caregivers,” says Dr. Maker, who has stayed in remission since 2011. She shares valuable information not commonly available to patients in her guide, which goes well beyond the information provided by doctors.
There are four important points that readers will learn:
1. Empowerment: it gives patients tools to cope with a challenging diagnosis of breast cancer.
2. Guidance: it will prompt breast cancer patients to ask critical but difficult questions of their doctors, hospitals, and caregivers.
3. Education: it addresses lifestyle changes people can make at home to prevent recurrence, in the form of diet, nutritional supplements, exercise, stress reduction, and avoidance of environmental carcinogens. It also discusses various types of medical providers beyond the traditional surgeon and oncologist, plus useful information on how to avoid hair and nail loss during chemo.
4. Awareness: The book addresses a misconception that conventional breast cancer treatment is a fairly exact science. The standard of care–some combination of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and hormones–doesn’t work for everyone. She makes clear there is no guaranteed outcome, and no single path leads to a successful outcome for all.
This book is an ideal resource for friends, family, loved ones who form the support network, in addition to the patient herself. It will help any reader better understand all the available forms of treatment so they can feel more confident in their choices. Having more knowledge helps all of us more effectively approach this disease.