Lucy Shapero had a mastectomy ten years ago, at age 37; since then she has been fighting the cancer that metastasized to her...


NEVER SAY DIE: A Doctor and Patient Talk About Breast Cancer

Lucy Shapero had a mastectomy ten years ago, at age 37; since then she has been fighting the cancer that metastasized to her bones. This is more than her personal story: she and Goodman, her surgeon brother-in-law, have written an informative--and moving--guide to the treatment of breast cancer, especially at an advanced stage. Their book goes further than others of this type; in Tony's eyes, what other women have written has seemed very concerned with ""cosmetic tragedy,"" and hasn't addressed concepts of cure or recurrence, or of facing death--what he sees as the reality of living with cancer. We move chronologically through Lucy's ordeal, she telling us what happened to her and how she felt, he explaining the medical details. Lucy's initial surgery was done in the days when a single surgeon made the decisions and presented the patient with a fait accompli; and in spite of better-informed patients and a multi-faceted approach to treatment, the attitudes of those days have not disappeared: recently, another surgeon remarked to Tony, ""I just don't see what all this fuss is about a vestigial organ."" The personal story is touching, and even more complicated than it perhaps should have been: Lucy suffered through overcoming a Valium addiction; she was never offered any psychological help, and only found some guidance after seeking out a psychiatrist on her own. Tony holds up his end admirably--an exceptional sort, it seems (Lucy: ""I wondered if I would ever get over the feeling that all doctors are asses""), he was obviously taken aback at what was happening to Lucy. He discusses the differences between treatment ten years ago and now (though readers may wish for more information about the two-stage procedure for surgery): today's treatment is multidisciplinary--no single therapy is sufficient, but a combination of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy can effect a cure. For this reason, Tony is upset by the fight-to-die movement, fearing that a poorly-informed public may give up too easily, just when the prognosis is much improved. Along with Dr. Nolen's promising cases (above), a heartening addition to the often-grim medical annals.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1980


Page Count: -

Publisher: Appleton-Century/Prentice Hall

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1980