Books to Read

Please note that these books are not intended to substitute for medical care, but to aid in the dialogue between patient and doctor, and to aid patients in managing treatment and recovery.

Visit the Cure Magazine site to ask for a free subscription to this useful magazine for cancer patients and survivors, which also publishes a yearly Cancer Guide for the Newly Diagnosed. 

A frequently up-dated list, with reviews, of books related to cancer can be found at Cancerland Bookshelf.

Fighting and Surviving Cancer:

*After Cancer Treatment: Heal Faster, Better, Stronger.  Julie K. Silver, M.D.; Johns Hopkins Press Health Book, 2006.  Dr. Silver is both a cancer rehabilitation specialist and breast cancer survivor.  Her book offers a wide range of practical advice for any cancer patient.

And in Health - A Guide for Couples Facing Cancer Together.     Dan Shapiro. Trumpeter Books, 2013.     

Anti-Cancer: A New Way of Life.  David Servan-Schreiber, M.D.; Viking, 2009. (Originally published in French in 2007.) The author was both an MD and Ph.D.  He survived for more than 20 years after two rounds of brain cancer, dying in July 2011. Servan-Schreiber wrote passionately and intelligibly about how to change your life to contribute to your cure, with particular focus on diet and environment.  If you only buy one book about fighting cancer, this is the one I’d choose; in 2011 it was the best-selling cancer book in the world. 

The AntiCancer Diet: Reduce Cancer Risk Through the Foods You Eat. David Khayat, M.D.  WW Norton, 2015.  Dr. Khayat has been the president of the French National Cancer Institute, among other key roles in fighting cancer.   His book, also an international bestseller, is right up there with Dr. Servan-Schreiber's work.

*A Cancer Survior's Almanac: Charting Your Journey.  National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship; Barbara Hoffman, J.D., ed.  Third Edition.  Wiley and Sons, 2004.  A compilation of articles about treatment, financial and legal issues, and survivorship resources.

*Cancer as a Turning Point.  Lawrence LeShan; Plume, 1994.  LeShan presents the results of several decades of psychotherapy work with cancer patients, including exercises to help mobilize your own self-healing abilities.

*Cancer: 50 Essential Things to Do.  Greg Anderson; Penguin Plume, Third Edition, 2009.  A common-sense guide on surviving for any cancer patient.  Anderson survived a diagnosis of fatal lung cancer for 20 years and is still counting.

*The Cancer Survivor’s Companion: Practical Ways to Cope with Your Feelings after Cancer.  Dr. Frances Goodhart and Lucy Atkins; Piatkus UK, 2011.  Just as the title says, focusing on the mental ups and downs – relief and happiness when treatment ends, but also depression, exhaustion, feelings of helplessness – that cancer patients may experience.

The Caregivers Handbook: A Guide to Caring for the Ill, Elderly, Disabled . . . and Yourself.  Harvard Health Publications.  Order in print or PDF form here.

Colors of Loss and Healing: An Adult Coloring Book for Getting Through Tough Times.  Deborah S. Derman.  Learn more here.

Dancing in Limbo: Making Sense of Life After Cancer. Glenna Halvorson-Boyd and Lisa K. Hunter. Jossey-Bass, 1995.  This book, by two health care professionals who are both cancer survivors, deals with the confusing time when the treatment is over and life is supposed to go "back to normal," but doesn't - the "limbo" of the title.  

*Diagnosis: Cancer - Your Guide to the First Months of Healthy Survivorship.  Dr. Wendy S. Harpham; Norton, 3rd edition, 2003.  In a question-and-answer format, Dr. Harpham reviews treatment issues and also discusses how the get the care you need if your managed care plan or insurance plan does not support what you need.

*Ending Female Pain-A Woman's Manual - the Ultimate Self-Help Guide for Women Suffering from Chronic Pelvic and Sexual Pain, by Isa Herrera.  Duplex Publishing, 2009.

*Five to Thrive: Your Cutting-Edge Cancer Prevention Plan.  Lise N. Alschuler, ND,FABNO, and Karolyn A. Gazella; Active Interest Media, 2011. Discusses in detail ways to enhance your immune system, prevent or reduce inflammation, with diet and supplments, exercise, meditation, and other healing strategies, to prevent cancer - or its recurrence.

*Help Me Live: 20 Things People With Cancer Want You to Know. Lori Hope; Celestial Arts, 2005.  Advice on how to communicate with, and support, cancer patients; illustrated with many personal illustrations from a cancer survivor.

*The Human Side of Cancer: Living with Hope, Coping with Uncertainty.  Jimmie C. Holland, M.D.., Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and Sheldon Lewis. Harper, 2000. An excellent overview of exactly what the title says - how to deal with the emotional problems of being a cancer patient and how to carry on with your life, post treatment.  There are discussions of issues such as sex and cancer, and material for the caregivers as well.   My favorite chapter is the one on "The Tyranny of Positive Thinking!" It's OK to be sad - and not OK to think that you have to be positive all the time or you will not get well!

*The Journey Through Cancer: Healing and Transforming the Whole Person.  Jeremy Geffe, MD.  Three Rivers Press, revised ed. 2006.  Covers coping with the diagnosis, making informed and wise choices about treatment options, and restoring your well-being.

Life Over Cancer: The Block Center Program for Integrative Cancer Treatment.  Keith L. Block, M.D.; Bantam Dell Random House, 2009.   Conventional medical approaches with scientifically tested complementary therapies, fitness, nutrition and mind-body plans.

*Mindfulness-based Cancer Recovery: A Step-by-Step MBSR Approach to Help You Cope with Treatment & Reclaim Your Life.   Linda E. Carlson & Michael Speca; New Harbinger Publications, 2010.  Two psychologists present a practical program for managing cancer treatment and recovery, based in part on Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction. 

*Own Your Cancer: A Take-Charge Guide for the Recently Diagnosed and Those Who Love Them.  Peter Edelstein. Lyons Press. (To be published in spring 2014)

*Surviving Cancer.   Margie Levine; Random House Broadway Books, 2001.  Diagnosed with mesothelioma, Maggie Levine took control of her cancer and beat the prognosis of only a few months to live; she survived for fourteen more years.  Practical and inspiring. 

*There’s No Place Like Hope: A Guide to Beating Cancer in Mind-Sized Bites.  Vickie Girard; Compendium, 2009.  A small handbook, with exactly the title as the title says: Bite-sized reflections on fighting the disease, for patients, family and friends.

* When Your Life Is Touched by Cancer: Practical Advice and Insights for Patients, Professionals and Those Who Care.  Bob Riter; Hunter House, 2014.  A well organized guide to coping with this diagnosis, treatment, and aftermath.

*Zest for Life: The Mediterranean Anti-Cancer Diet.  Conner Middlemann-Whitney.  Honeybourne Publishing, 2011.  Middlemann-Whitney turned to this diet to help combat her pre-cancerous cervical lesions. She has practical advice and over 150 recipes inspired by the traditional cooking of Italy, France, Spain, Turkey, Morocco and other Mediterranean countries.   Enjoy your medicine!  (The author maintains a website on the role of food in cancer.)

Anal Cancer Stories

*If You're Not Laughing, You're Dying.  Michele Longabaugh. Hillsboro Free Press, 2012.  The personal blog of a Stage IV anal cancer patient, recounting two years of her fight - she's now "in remission," or as we like to say, "dancing with NED (No Evidence of Disease).  Available here, and in a Kindle edition.

*Kicking Cancer in the Butt - Thriving in Spite of Anal Cancer.  A personal statement by Theresa Mayhew, a companion anal cancer fighter, who lost her  battle in 2011.  

Brown Ribbon.  Robbi Woolard.  A personal account by an anal cancer survivor. In Kindle format from Amazon.


*Any Mother’s Daughter: One Woman’s Lifelong Struggle with HPV. Bonnie Diraimondo, RN;  Authorhouse, 2010.  With a forward by Harald zur Hausen, a 2008 Nobel Prize winner for his work on HPV’s role in cervical cancer.  Diraimondo presents a riveting account of her long experience with anal, cervical, and vulvar cancer.

*What Your Doctor May Not Tell You about HPV and Abnormal Pap Smears.  Joel Palesky, M.D., with Jody Handley; Hachette Book Group, Wellness Central, 200.  Palefesky, a long-established HPV expert, wrote this for the general public.  While the focus is on cervical cancer, he discusses anal cancer as well.

More General Interest 

*The Cancer Chronicles: Unlocking Medicine's Deepest Mystery.  George Johnson.  Johnson's science journalism took a very personal turn when his while was diagnosed with cancer, and he set out to learn about and understand the disease.  Vintage Books, 2014.

*The Emperor of all Maladies: A Biography of Cancer.  Siddhartha Mukherjee. Scribner, 2010.  A fascinating account that begins with cancer in ancient Egypt, by a physician and researcher of cancer.    

*The Secret History of the War on Cancer.  Devra Davis,  Basic Books, 2007.  Dr. Davis’s career spans academia and public service, including work with Al Gore on global climate change that was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.  In this study she sounds the alarm about environmental toxins, and other cancer hazards, tracing how the war against cancer has focused on the disease rather than its causes.  A riveting read.  Unfortunately, the author perpetuates the stereotype of anal cancer by asserting that "In gay men who carry HPV, anal intercourse can lead to anal cancer" and "vaccinating boys would prevent anal cancer in those who are gay."  I have written to the author and hope she will amend this in the future.

* Available in paperback.

© H. M. Carter-Tripp 2012