My Favorite Breast Cancer Book

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I read the pamplets I was given and I went to numerous websites, but I was in shock, too stressed even go to the library, much less check books often offering 300 pages of tech talk, small type, bad writing, and even, sometimes, a patronizing tone. Apparently, I’m not the only one who feels this way, because when I checked the card catalog–online these days–almost all the books were reported to be on the shelf.

This was great news for me–I could get almost everything I needed in one three-branch swoop–but , aware of the many area women suffering from breast cancer, it was not what I had expected.

Perhaps, like me, women simply find themselves overwhelmed. Six months after my diagnosis and two surgeries and 32 radiation treatments later, I have finally checked out breast cancer books. Maybe it’s the picky writer in me, or the research librarian, but I seem to find something not to like about almost every breast cancer book–the tone, the focus, the type face. The book design is off-putting. There is too much information or not enough. I have to pick through most of them looking for answers. With one, beautiful exception:

Straight Talk About Breast Cancer: From Diagnosis to Recovery, by Suzanne W. Braddock, M.D., and three others, in just over 100 well-designed pages (generous margins with plenty of white space) addresses in comfortably-sized type most of our frightened questions. Using well-composed prose, Dr. Braddock succinctly and without any patronization whatever, explains what’s going on now, what’s happening throughout treatment, and what our options are. She offers comfort in clarity, and an underlying understanding and compassion available only from someone who has been there: Dr. Braddock, a dermatologist, has had breast cancer herself.

This book even provides, in addition to simple but clear drawings, photographs of women–shown up to and including their radiant smiles–who had endured one of the wide variety of options and every one of them looks terrific: unilateral (one-sided) mastectomy without reconstruction, lumpectomy, bilateral mastectomy (both breasts removed) with reconstruction (amazing how even the nipples appear real), biolateral mastectomy without reconstruction, bilateral mastectomy with saline implants, bilateral mastectomy with tissue expanders and saline implants, bilateral mastectomy followed by an immediate TRAM flap reconstruction (using a woman’s own tissue, usually from the back).

In addition to all this, a glossary–much needed to even begin to read a pathology report–and an excellent index finish this book, which has been translated into French and German. I couldn’t find a Spanish translation, but there must be one somewhere.

Straight Talk About Breast Cancer: From Diagnosis to Recovery, 2nd edition, by Suzanne W. Braddock et. al. 2002. Addicus Books, P.O. Box 45327, Omaha, Nebraska 68145. ISBN 1-886039-60-7

To find this book, go to any online bookstore, your public library, or your local bookstore:  Here are some links (some offering this book for less than $5.00):