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Decision Making

Dealing with a cancer diagnosis, treatment or long-term survival issues can sometimes be overwhelming or confusing. If you're an adult patient or the caregiver of an adult patient, there are books that can help you find ways to better manage your new responsibilities. Browse the list below for books that can help you cope.

Suggested Reading - The Big Ordeal

The Big Ordeal: Understanding and Managing the Psychological Turmoil of Cancer by Cynthia Hayes
River Grove Books, February 2021, 264 pages
ISBN 978-1-63299-335-9 Print
ISBN 978-1-63299-336-6 eBook


Nothing can truly prepare you for the emotional rollercoaster of a cancer diagnosis, but The Big Ordeal will help you anticipate and respond to the psychological turmoil ahead. Written by a cancer survivor with the help of a psychotherapist and two oncologists, The Big Ordeal presents the typical emotional experience, illustrated by patient and caregiver stories. The book explains the science behind those emotions, helping you understand why you feel the way you do, and offers advice on how to cope. The book is based on interviews with over 100 patients, caregivers, oncologists, neuroscientists, and other experts.

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Suggested Reading - When Blood Breaks Down

When Blood Breaks Down - Life Lessons from Leukemia by Mikkael A. Sekeres, MD
MIT Press, April 2020, Hardcover, 328 Pages
ISBN: 9780262043724

In When Blood Breaks Down, Dr. Mikkael Sekeres, a leading cancer specialist, takes readers on a journey that patient and doctor travel together.  Sekeres tells the compelling stories of three people who receive diagnoses of adult leukemia within hours of each other: Joan, a 48-year-old surgical nurse, a caregiver who becomes a patient; David, a 68-year-old former factory worker who bows to his family's wishes and pursues the most aggressive treatment; and Sarah, a 36-year-old pregnant woman who must decide whether to undergo chemotherapy and put her fetus at risk. We join the intimacy of the conversations Sekeres has with his patients, and watch as he teaches trainees. Along the way, Sekeres also explores leukemia in its different forms and the development of drugs to treat it—describing, among many other fascinating details, the invention of the bone marrow transplant and a treatment that targets the genetics of leukemia. The lessons to be learned from leukemia, Sekeres shows, are not merely medical; they teach us about courage and grace and defying the odds.

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Suggested Reading - A Beginner’s Guide to the End

A Beginner’s Guide to the End: Practical Advice for Living Life and Facing Death
By Dr. BJ Miller and Shoshana Berger
Simon & Schuster, 2019, 544 pages
ISBN 978-1-5011-5716-5
ISBN 978-1-5011-5722-6 (ebook)

“There is nothing wrong with you for dying,” hospice physician B.J. Miller and journalist and caregiver Shoshana Berger write in A Beginner’s Guide to the End. “Our ultimate purpose here isn’t so much to help you die as it is to free up as much life as possible until you do.”

Theirs is a clear-eyed and big-hearted action plan for approaching the end of life, written to help readers feel more in control of an experience that so often seems anything but controllable. Their book offers everything from step-by-step instructions for how to do your paperwork and navigate the healthcare system to answers to questions you might be afraid to ask your doctor, like whether or not sex is still okay when you’re sick. Get advice for how to break the news to your employer, whether to share old secrets with your family, how to face friends who might not be as empathetic as you’d hoped, and how to talk to your children about your will. There are also lessons for survivors, like how to shut down a loved one’s social media accounts, clean out the house, and write a great eulogy.

Suggested Reading - Having Children After Cancer:How to Make Informed Choices before and After Treatment and Build the Family of Your Dreams

Having Children After Cancer: How to Make Informed Choices Before and After Treatment and Build the Family of Your Dreams by Gina M. Shaw
Celestial Arts; 1 edition, 2011
ISBN-10: 158761054X ISBN-13: 978-1587610547

When faced with a cancer diagnosis, many doctors and patients rush full-speed ahead into treatment, giving minimal attention to the potential fertility implications. Luckily, the field of oncofertility is growing quickly, and medical writer Gina Shaw, herself a cancer survivor, is ready to unravel the complex and evolving issues involved in pre- and post-cancer fertility and family-building options-for both men and women. Having Children After Cancer gives all the tools to: Understand how different cancers can affect fertility Identify which treatments?chemo, radiation, and surgery?can potentially impair your fertility Discuss fertility-sparing treatment options with your doctor Select the fertility preservation method that's right for you-from freezing eggs, embryos,and sperm to preserving ovarian tissue Analyze the chances of getting pregnant-using natural methods and with in vitro fertilization Determine the best time to get pregnant (and which drug therapies to avoid while doing so) Have a healthy post-cancer pregnancyNavigate surrogacy and what to tell prospective candidates about your medical history Consider adoption and learn about survivor-friendly adoption programs and countries Find sample medical letters and other insurance-company red-tape busting information Think through the implications of mother- and fatherhood after cancer Figure out how to talk to your children about the big C

Suggested Reading - Second Opinions: Stories of Intuition and Choice in the Changing World of Medicine

Second Opinions: Stories of Intuition and Choice in the Changing World of Medicine By Jerome Groopman, M.D.
Penguin USA (Paper), 2001, 256 pages
ISBN: 0140298622

A Harvard Medical School professor and a cancer researcher, Dr. Groopman combines his scientific experience and communication skills in exploring how patients and their doctors make critical medical decisions. Told from the physician's perspective, the eight real-life narratives reflect the ambiguities and complexities inherent in medical science, the promise and limitations of new treatments and the current state of the healthcare delivery system.