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11 Books to Read During Your Breast Cancer Treatment


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Breast cancer treatment is rigorous and unrelenting. For many women, surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and other treatments can result in a variety of side effects including fatigue, nausea, pain, depression and impaired cognitive function.

Reading is a great way to keep your mind active while your body rests. There are so many books out there about living with cancer, many written by real women who have battled breast cancer themselves. Below is a list of 11 motivating, heart-wrenching and hilarious books written by or for women with breast cancer.

Books for Women Battling Breast Cancer

Pink is the New Black: Healing the Hidden Scars of Breast Cancer by Sarah McLean

McLean is a two-time breast cancer survivor and Oklahoma City resident, who was first diagnosed in her twenties. Pink is the New Black is an honest perspective of the many struggles women with breast cancer face, from treatment and fear, to self-image and intimacy issues. McLean also founded Project31, a nonprofit that supports the breast cancer community in Oklahoma and beyond.

Vibrant: To Heal and Be Whole

Renowned INTEGRIS psychiatrist Murali Krishna, M.D., shares the defining moments from his life and the lessons he’s learned along the way in Vibrant. In addition to his own personal journey, Dr. Krishna poses difficult questions and provides exercises to help you “own your happiness.” A beautiful exploration of inner strength, this book is the perfect read for those battling breast cancer.

This Is Cancer: Everything You Need to Know from the Waiting Room to the Bedroom by Laura Holmes Haddad

The subtitle tells it all for Laura Holmes Haddad’s comprehensive guide to living with cancer. When the author was first diagnosed, she found little comfort or usefulness in the classic cancer self-help books or what-to-expect pamphlets. Instead, she wrote her own informative, funny and realistic book to help others prepare and cope with the reality of cancer.

Cancer Vixen by Marisa Acocella Marchetto

If you’re not feeling up to a heavy read, try out this illustrated memoir that tells the story of author Marchetto’s own battle with breast cancer. When Marchetto was diagnosed, she was a big-city, fun-loving cartoonist who was engaged to be married. In this funny and poignant book, Marchetto illustrates (literally) the challenges women with breast cancer face, from diagnosis to cure.

When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chödrön

Chödrön pulls from traditional Buddhist wisdom as she contradicts what we thought we knew about hardship. In this book, Chödrön delves in life’s struggles and how we react to them. Sometimes everything seems to fall apart at once. A breast cancer diagnosis often feels this way. However, Chödrön urges people to lean into painful situations and open your heart to challenges in order to transform suffering into joy.

Uplift: Secrets from the Sisterhood of Breast Cancer Survivors by Barbara Delinsky

Sometimes all we need is to know there are others out there who are going through similar struggles, who have felt the pain we’re feeling, and who have made it through. Uplift is a collection of hundreds of practical and inspiring tidbits from real breast cancer survivors. This is not a medical guide to breast cancer treatment, but rather a “Girlfriends’ Guide,” including advice and tips to not only survive breast cancer, but to live with it each day.

Strength Renewed: Meditations for Your Journey through Breast Cancer by Shirley Corder

Between chemotherapy, treatments, surgeries and the emotional toil of fighting every day, cancer is exhausting in so many ways. Strength Renewed is a daily devotional that offers spiritual guidance and encouragement in small daily doses. Although this isn’t a dense read, it offers a little time each day to reflect and meditate on your personal journey through treatment.

Everybody’s Got Something by Robin Roberts

Many people know Robin Roberts as a long-time anchor on ABC’s Good Morning America. Roberts’ memoir recounts her triumphant battle with breast cancer, her bone marrow transplant to treat a rare blood disorder and the loss of her mother. The phrase “Everybody’s got something,” is advice from Roberts’ mother, and Roberts uses it to explain that everybody has something they are facing in their life, but also something to give.

The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying by Nina Riggs

Nina Riggs was first diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 37, and later learned that her cancer was terminal. A descendant of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Riggs reflects on motherhood, marriage, friendship, legacy and literature in this brilliantly written memoir.

Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone by Brené Brown

Cancer can be both isolating and all-consuming. In this book, Brown explores the “spiritual crisis of disconnection” and the true feeling of belonging. Braving the Wilderness is not about cancer, but may be an insightful read if you’re struggling with the isolation and loneliness of treatment. She writes, “True belonging requires us to believe in and belong to ourselves so fully that we can find sacredness both in being a part of something and in standing alone when necessary.”

The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee

If you’d rather indulge in a thoughtful, Pulitzer Prize-winning book, The Emperor of All Maladies is your ticket. Mukherjee tells the biography of cancer, tracing its origins, treatments and modern breakthroughs. Combining the perspectives of a biologist, historian and biographer, Mukherjee tells the story of a disease that has plagued humans for thousands of years, and the many discoveries, triumphs and deaths it has left in its wake.

Detecting Breast Cancer Early

Detecting breast cancer in its early stages is important in preventing metastasis, or the spreading of cancer cells to the lymph system or bloodstream. Be aware of the early signs of breast cancer including a lump or knot in the breast, swelling or darkening of the breast, change in breast shape or size, dimpling or puckering of skin, rash on nipple and discharge or pain in one spot that does not go away over time.

Yearly mammogram screenings are recommended for all women starting at age 45. If you or a loved one shows signs of breast cancer, consult your doctor.

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