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Breast Cancer Books & My Story

Updated on February 13, 2014

The First Thing My Daughter Did After Learning I Had Breast Cancer was to Buy a Book For Me!

My daughter provided immense support all along my breast cancer journey. She was there with hugs, phone calls, hospital visits, sweet thoughtful gifts, and great meals that only she can make.

My twenty-something daughter met me for coffee after I called her with my news. I've never felt closer to my daughter, since she was very young.

She gave me hugs along with Susan Love's Breast Book, a compendium of facts and wisdom, the standard for information from a breast cancer provider, along with a primer on healthful eating that promotes a healthy body, resistant to cancer.

All Photographs © 1999 by Leslie Sinclair --- ALL RIGHTS RESERVED - Do Not Copy or Use These

I referred to and read and re-read those two tomes, as I processed the ramifications of the disease that had taken hold of my left breast. Susan Love's book replaced my dictionary for the longest term. It joined one other book that came to grace my life during this period, The Holy Qur'an.

It Was a Time of Huge Upheaval In My Life

My decision to convert to Islam coincided with the 2nd mammogram of my life - a scan I approached and endured oblivious to the encroachment of the disease that had previously sprouted roots in my body.

My spirit swelled in recognition of the religion I had been seeking for a good decade; and a month prior to the mammogram I had decided that I would make my declaration of faith within a few months.

In the interim, while I told family and friends of my decision to become Muslim, and I contemplated life without bacon and my favorite white meat - pork chops and sauerkraut cooked in a cast iron fry pan, served next to mashed potatoes - my stepfather's decline had made life thorny for my mother, and my divorce skidded along downhill over fallen logs and dreams.

I Made Art As If My Life Depended Upon It

My painting life thrived as I poured the confliction of personal feelings and family/friend reactions into my artwork, both paintings and mixed-media collages - never one to either place my emotions on hold, nor hesitate to work out my ideas on paper.

I supported my art-making through one of those no-health-insurance day jobs, and at the point of my call-back for a more specific type of mammogram I was between assignments. That provided me with open days to spend with my mother and step-father in what I was then unaware would be the last days of his cogent life.

My Stepfather Declined and Mom was Overwhelmed

When the challenge of caring for him became overwhelming to mom and we followed the advice to seek help from his hospital's ER docs, it was the last I would see him alive. I returned the 100 miles back home for job interviews without telling my mother of the call back for another mammogram; she had enough to deal with, without bearing additional worries about my health.

I didn't tell her that as soon as I tore open the envelope from the medical center bearing the mammogram notice - some 14 days hence - I knew they had found something, and I never thought for a moment it was anything but breast cancer. I also didn't tell anyone, not anyone, but one.

I told the loving lady who had provided cooking and care for mom and pop, and who had recovered from several bouts with cancer herself - secretly I whispered my fears to her) about the notice. My family was stoic about health challenges.

We scarcely had any and we made good strong recoveries, hardly noteworthy and seldom discussed, if ever at all. In prayer I did take my concerns to the One who already knew.

If you have questions, or want to read more of my breast cancer story, just write your comments in the Guestbook at the bottom of the page.

Recently diagnosed patients and families can locate just the right books for each one. Find your selection here.

I drew the copyrighted image at left during the sleepless night of my first chemo round. Prednisone claimed my sleep and charged me up during the days before and after each chemo round. Still awake at 1 AM that first night, I arose and drew six small drawings in a small accordion style book.

In this image a scale holds love on one side and cradles the love of healthy support from friends and family, spinning off healthy growth tendrils. The lower scale arms show green growing goodness balanced on a point of faith. Yellow is bordered with text reading: "change the scale so it measures from the heart.

Up All Night With preChemo Prednisone

This little drawing is one of eight I did during the all-nighter --- thanks to Prenisone --- after my first round of Chemo! Each measures 3.5" X 6."

They are the cover, contents, and back cover of a little accordion-fold handmade booklet. The large image is a scale, with growing arms and tendrils, feeding/measuring the heart-capped coil in the treatment bowl, measured by the heart weight.

Red signifies love and support. Tiny stamps mark the structure of home and family, backed by rich blue sky. Again, yellow is a sign of nourishment.

The Book My Daughter Bought for Me

Dr. Susan Love's Breast Book has been considered the bible of breast-care books since it appeared in 1990. In 1995, Love completely updated the book in a 600-page second edition, including new biopsy and screening methods, implants, the pros and cons of hormone therapy, new discoveries in breast-cancer treatment, and many other topics.

Every chapter has been rewritten, with the exception of the anatomy chapter ("The breast, I'm glad to report, is still located on the chest!"). Love presents copious medical information in a simple, welcoming style, and plentiful illustrations make the information even clearer. About two-thirds of the book deals with breast cancer: risk factors, prevention, screening, diagnosis, staging, emotions, treatment options, surgery, alternative treatments, clinical trials, and more.

But the book isn't just about breast cancer. It's also about breast development, physiology, bras, nursing, sexuality--if it has to do with breasts, Love discusses it. Love also debunks breast myths: underwire bras do not cause cancer, neither do bruises or injuries; "fibrocystic disease" isn't really a disease.

The book includes a wealth of resources: books, treatment centers, and organizations (but no Web sites--perhaps in the third edition?). --Joan Price --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

chemo scarved
chemo scarved

So I Wore Scarves When I Went Out

Click my photo from 1999! Visit ChemoWraps for smashing results in scarf shopping, scarf wearing demonstrations and other great great resources More Gorgeous Chic And Fun Scarves for Fashionistas!

Videos from cool sophisticates and young hip students and rock star fashionistas - and a rocking beach-frolicking long-haired cancer survivor.

Specialists display their natural hemp scarves, exquisite silks, classic signature squares, crocheted cotton lengths, chiffons, satins, hijabs, tie-dyes, to apricot paisley pashminas!

Caring for Cynthia - a must-read!

Caring For Cynthia: A Caregiver's Journey Through Breast Cancer
Caring For Cynthia: A Caregiver's Journey Through Breast Cancer

A physician's own story has poignancy and punch. She shares her breast cancer experience.

 

We Are Not Our Hair! Revelations from Papier

Jackson Hunsicker shows the world that women are more than our hair! We can be confident with or without hair, whether we show it or cover it up.

This was a Foreign Notion to the Teenage Me

Me, I could have used this book during my seven months of baldness. Unsightly and painful rosacea outbreaks on my scalp caused more than a few winces to my self-esteem. For a long bit "I was my hair!"

Raised as I was to place the lion's share of weight on the "Appearance" Scale, although I knew quite clearly that it wasn't true - for decades I'd been aware that attention directed towards my hair was my first line of protection from critical looks or words, or perceived slights. Still, I didn't feel quite confident unless I presented shining clean hair to my world, day after day.

An Example of How Important it was in my Family To Look GoodBreast Cancer Was About to Claim my Pride-in-Hair

Decades of consciousness raising later, facing encroaching baldness from Taxol, I forgot all I had learned since childhood about "who and what" I really am, and felt like that pretty girl back then, complete with "her" timidities.

Thank God, we have compassionate providers and supporters geared to Breast Cancer care of the whole person nowadays. Still, it can help to have Jackson Hunsicker's reminder.

Turning Heads: Portraits of Grace, Inspiration, and Possibilities
Turning Heads: Portraits of Grace, Inspiration, and Possibilities

These women admitted their wholeness and beauty during times of lost hair and the photographer was able to capture them with grace.

 

How About You?

Do you know someone who has experienced breast cancer?

See results

The Middle Place

One story of family and how breast cancer affects the generations. A personal passionate sharing of love and caring, on many levels.

The Middle Place
The Middle Place

Beginning with her strong connections to her Irish American father, and her identification as mother of two little girls, you know this is one passionate writer. So when breast cancer strikes, Kelly Corrigan brings a depth of sharing to her writing that truly envelops the reader into her experience. Come along with her into and through her journey, and back out as a changed woman.

 

Recovery after Breast Cancer

The Breast Cancer Survivor's Fitness Plan (Harvard Medical School Guides)
The Breast Cancer Survivor's Fitness Plan (Harvard Medical School Guides)

Keep your strong body even while undergoing Breast Cancer treatment. This guide is filled with illustrations - with simple directions, easy to follow. Complete with tips for doing your best during treatment. Maintain your range of motion through exercises - find surgery-specific exercises tailored to your specific kind of surgery.

 

Metastatic Breast Cancer Guide To Going On - stories and mental and physical fitness strategies

Advanced Breast Cancer:: A Guide to Living with Metastatic Disease, 2nd Edition (Patient Centered Guides)
Advanced Breast Cancer:: A Guide to Living with Metastatic Disease, 2nd Edition (Patient Centered Guides)

For everyone who faces a recurrence of breast cancer, reality is easier with information and this book is rich with tips

 
Before chemo hair
Before chemo hair

The Hair I Lost to Chemo - Papier's Story

My hair was like a bouncy cushion to the eyes, a deflection from any insecurity that bothered me, and a sign of my self-confidence.

Life without hair - even for a year or less - was unthinkable to me. I had been brought up to value my "pretty"! My appearance, so it went, was what counted, on top of sweetness, integrity and smarts.

I remember the first time I looked in the mirror after loosing all my hair, being dried and dressed, eating breakfast and returning to brush my teeth.

The Man in my Mirror

I caught that first glance in the mirror and recoiled in shock. "Who was that man staring back at me from *my mirror!!!" Truly, that was my thought - in those words.

I'd lost my femininity, I I'd thought. Being unmarried was still new to me, and I'd recently moved cities and knew no one in the new town, not even in my building, so I lacked friendly feedback regarding my appearance and my real worth.

Chemo, radiation, revelation of my cancer treatment details in the public waiting room where the nurse couldn't help but be overheard, all these took a huge toll on me, not to mention rosacea eruptions on my now visible scalp, and I was a bundle of misery.

I Saw the Cancer Lady

My doctor referred me to the Cancer Lady, a hospital volunteer who fitted scarves and hats on newly diagnosed cancer patients. She must have taken great pity on me, for she gave me scarves and several hats. I wasn't one to wear makeup other than light foundation and mascara.

I skipped the makeup tips, but wore and wore the scarves and hats. A distant friend even mailed one of her regular wigs to me, although it was a challenge to adjust to my appearance, wearing someone else's hair, but it was well worth having anyway and I was so grateful to be able to wear it outdoors.

I did find it helpful to close the photo albums so as not to fixate on "what used to be", and to rejoice in the ease with which I washed my bare scalp - no different from how I washed my arms. I could be in and out of the shower in a Summer flash - 5 minutes total. Now that was fun!

Curly Hair Smarts - for After Chemo - after your hair regrows you'll be ready to care for it

For me it's been catch my hair on a good-day and celebrate, kind of like catching a tot behaving well and praising her/him, and covering up on a bad hair day. Now I can absorb all Curly Girl has to offer in her Handbook and I can get regular infusions of affirmation with chuckles, from the calendars. Join me in buying these goods!

Curly Girl: The Handbook
Curly Girl: The Handbook

Curly girls of the world unite! Sixty-five percent of women have naturally curly hair, but for too long too many of these women have either been at a loss on how to care for their hair properly or, worse, have gone through life pretending they have straight hair. No more.

 

Writers Share Wisdom & Humor - young women do breast cancer walks too

Remember when we heard nothing about Elizabeth Edwards, that wasn't about her husband ...when he ran for President...when he dallied with you-know-who...when he fell in disgrace; then, out of the turmoil Elizabeth Edwards the competent woman rose again to prominence.

By this time she face recurrence of her devastating stage 4 diagnosis. And, minus the drag of her husband's indiscretions, she presented the gentle radiance of a woman who knows herself, uses her competence to combat what she can and to accept what she can't.

Her story presents a model we might reach for, learn from, and be grateful for. For me, I remember a picture of gentleness, backed by an armature of steel that didn't depend on displaying her long silky hair to her boyfriend.

Saving Graces: Finding Solace and Strength from Friends and Strangers
Saving Graces: Finding Solace and Strength from Friends and Strangers

Story of the vice presidential candidate's wife's discovery of a Stage IV breast lump in the midst of the 2004 campaign

 

Breast Cancer Prevention

There was a day when we knew less than nothing about Breast Cancer Prevention, or had any idea that exercise might help up prevent or get through Breast Cancer. Today we are aware that studies demonstrate the connection between exercise and prevention of or recurrence of breast cancer.

Like me, many of us deny that the statistics that point towards certain groups of women (early onset of menstruation, and others) are at high risk for getting Breast Cancer. I was just "too young, too active, too energetic, too happy, too flat-chested, etc" to succumb to that disease for women who were older, sedentary in their lifestyles, depressed, buxom, etc. I knew I didn't need a mammogram - after all, my gynecologist told it offhandedly that, because of the size of my breasts, it would be easy to tell if I had breast cancer.

Who, Me? I Was Too Healthy

Therefore - I dismissed the notion of Breast Cancer from my consciousness. The worst illness I had endured was endometriosis, and cured it through surgery. You can't say you cured too many diseases, but endometriosis is dependent upon the reproductive organs to exist and excise them and the scourge is gone, gone, gone!

And I was under 50 when I affirmed my right to not-think about that stranger disease, Breast Cancer. I didn't know one woman who admitted to having had the disease. We just did not discuss it. I did not read about it. No one in my family of origin had then, or has now (12 years later) had it - only me.

Well, of course, my gynecologist had had me take a Breast Cancer Inventory, and the results had placed me in the High Risk category, but I had all the reason listed above for ignoring that unfact. Today we know better - that diet and exercise can play a huge role in prevention in the first place, and lessening the chances of recurrence in the second place. Here is a selection of helpful books. Make the selections that seem to fit with your wishes and your situation. Read Much! Live Well!

The Breast Cancer Prevention Diet: The Powerful Foods, Supplements, and Drugs That Can Save Your Life
The Breast Cancer Prevention Diet: The Powerful Foods, Supplements, and Drugs That Can Save Your Life

Use diet to influence the breast structure and influence hormones to avoid breast cancer

 
Get It Off! Understanding the Cause of Breast Pain, Cysts, and Cancer, Illustrated with A Little Breast Play
Get It Off! Understanding the Cause of Breast Pain, Cysts, and Cancer, Illustrated with A Little Breast Play

An expose of cultural causes of breast cancer and your options to work to evade this prevalent disease

 

Environmental Links to Breast Cancer

They are all around us - those environmental links to cancer. Right now I live on the top floor of a giant apartment building in a major city. It perches above a steel fabrication plant that sits so low to the ground (dips below street level behind its sort of long entrance way) that it went unnoticed on my apartment search.

Significance of City Air Pollutants

Now maybe the emanations from the chimney stack remain below the standard for environmental polluters, but the volume of noise, coupled with the black soot which also comes from the arterial bordering the property and the airplane exhaust particulate from the flypaths over the neighboring hill, and the auto-painting shop, and the small auto repair shop, and the tree-grinding outfit's wood dust in the air - all these things can't help but compromise the health of residents in this building.

I already had Breast Cancer a decade before moving into this building, which I chose for proximity to downtown, and to two major freeways (oh yes, add auto exhaust pollution to the mix), but they flew above my awareness in my selection process.

Today it is well known that environmental poisons poison us, the neighbors to highways, air flight lanes, factories, noise levels above standards set for human health - all these pollutants negatively affect our health, but sometimes we, like me, deny these facts. Now we can read authoritative volumes and quite literally learn volumes. Select your favorites! Pass them on!

Silent Spring
Silent Spring

With Silent Spring Rachel Carson planted the seeds of consciousness to waken us all to the dangers to our health linked to environmental stresses

 

Humor, Wisdom, Yoga & Papier's Story

Immediately prior to my diagnosis of Breast Cancer I had been in a prolonged divorce proceeding, having experienced DV, had lost my step-father and couldn't be present for him through the last period of his life because of my need to find a new job.

I faced a significant crisis with my seriously brain-injured adult son's new vision impairment that wasn't addressed by his providers, and needed to find a new institution for him. I had been diagnosed with high blood pressure.

I had moved, was a newcomer to my city so hadn't developed a network of friends because I also devoted my free time either to my son's needs or to my elderly parents' needs for my presence. I had had a significant reduction in income.

Wisdom and Yoga

To me, back then, Yoga was a way-out spiritual exercise. Nothing much about the above seemed funny enough to laugh on my own. Wisdom was something I wasn't old enough to purchase. Breast Cancer did a number on me and shook up those ideas to emphasize that meditative strategies not only calmed the individual they also lowered blood pressure and freed up energy for humor, and wisdom had just been lingering below the surface of that frenzy of brain-injury advocacy activity.

Not to say that my activities were worthless. They were valuable to my son and to myself and to other victims of traumatic brain injury. But since they frosted my cake, and they were just too sweet, I needed to locate some less-weighty icings, and I found them in such activities as meditation to a CD I bought from my naturopath. Then I tried yoga for breast cancer survivors.

I loved it and it was a good thing because I was soon involved in follow-through on a request by the brain-injury facility Board of Directors member to resolve a facility-wide problem; and I found concentrated humor at a special breast cancer patient support group.

Humor as a characteristic returned to prominence as my priorities fell in line with my new religion, Islam. It reminded me once again that in the grand scope of things, it really didn't matter if my hair was long and silky and shiny.

Some of our Breast Cancer cadre share in inimitable fashion, strategies for coping and thriving! Pick the best!

rollered hair
rollered hair

So you read about the Giant Rollers

the ones I used at 4 am the day we went to the ocean

Well, these are the pint-sized rollers I used on short hair before it grew out and before manufacturers caught on to the idea that American women would go to extremes to straighten our curly hair, in the 50s.

You guessed it! I'm on the right. And no, we didn't shoot the ducks. We just modeled my girlfriend's father's hunting prowess. Now I think - what gives? When did hunters begin hiring (for dinner) girls to showcase their shotgun strengths! What do you think............do we look just like the models that languished on the big car hoods of the day?

Click on my photo to view Charity Hat Projects for Cancer Patients!

Breast Cancer Wisdom, Facts & Humor

Given the number of other stressors in my life when I was diagnosed I could have used some humor and know I would have enjoyed learning from other women who had been there before me.

Living Beyond Breast Cancer: A Survivor's Guide for When Treatment Ends and the Rest of Your Life Begins
Living Beyond Breast Cancer: A Survivor's Guide for When Treatment Ends and the Rest of Your Life Begins

Survivors learn from facts and other survivors. There can be life beyond treatment. I'm counting on it.

 

Humor Goes A Long Way Towards Healing

My Left Boob: The Diary of Ann-Being-Frank
My Left Boob: The Diary of Ann-Being-Frank

Ann is 43 years old and prefers the term "domestic technician" to "housewife". According to Ann her best achievements to date are: Her 21-year marriage to Tom (His Lordship) Her three beautiful daughters, Amy, Jane and Shelley And of course, most recently, prevailing in her battle against breast cancer.

 

Your Thoughts on Your Own Experience, Mine, or the List of Books, Please

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    • malena10 profile image

      malena10 5 years ago

      This disease is so common in women, thank you for sharing your story with us!

    • HealthfulMD profile image

      Kirsti A. Dyer 5 years ago from Northern California

      Thank you for including Caring for Cynthia on your Breast Cancer book lists. I hope you have a chance to read it.

    • DeannaDiaz profile image

      DeannaDiaz 5 years ago

      Very touching lens!

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      I like your Lens Leslie! I'm a 6 month survivor and I've read a few of these books myself