A balanced, reassuring guide to managing breast cancer through information and empowerment.




In this debut book on women’s health, Citrin (Fatal Error, 2010), a breast cancer specialist at Cancer Treatment Centers of America, provides an easy-to-follow, no-nonsense explanation of cancer detection and treatment.

Citrin’s primary goal is to convey the seriousness of breast cancer without striking an alarmist tone, and as a result, he acknowledges that misunderstandings and a lack of communication often prevent women from receiving proper treatment. “I believe the main reason women delay seeking treatment is fear,” he says. “Some women deny the presence of cancer, others refuse treatment, and many are not appropriately educated about their cancer or given the opportunity to completely understand their condition and the options before them.” The book guides readers through basics, including the biology of breast cancer and the usefulness of diagnostic techniques from mammogram to biopsy. Citrin, a veteran physician, then proceeds through an explanation of cancer treatments, with particular emphasis on recent developments that produce more effective and less debilitating results. He advocates an integrative approach to treatment as the best way for patients to make informed decisions and receive the most accurate, effective care. The driving theme throughout the book is one of empowerment, as Citrin counsels patients to continue asking questions until they feel fully informed; he chastises doctors who dismiss patients’ beliefs or wishes and lay out treatment plans in impenetrable jargon without ensuring that patients understand and agree. While the tone is generally upbeat, focusing on the fact that properly diagnosed breast cancer is nearly always treatable, the book does not shy away from acknowledging that complicating factors exist, and a concluding chapter goes into detail regarding situations that require a more careful approach, from genetic risk factors to breast cancer in males. Throughout the book, patient stories offer concrete examples of the topics discussed, serving as examples of different stages of progression and the varying levels of success. Appendices offer further resources, including a glossary and a comprehensive list of questions patients should ask their doctors.

A balanced, reassuring guide to managing breast cancer through information and empowerment.

Pub Date: March 19, 2014

ISBN: 978-1493573561

Page Count: 289

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

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Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...


A dense, absorbing investigation into the medical community's exploitation of a dying woman and her family's struggle to salvage truth and dignity decades later.

In a well-paced, vibrant narrative, Popular Science contributor and Culture Dish blogger Skloot (Creative Writing/Univ. of Memphis) demonstrates that for every human cell put under a microscope, a complex life story is inexorably attached, to which doctors, researchers and laboratories have often been woefully insensitive and unaccountable. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal form of cervical cancer. At Johns Hopkins, the doctors harvested cells from her cervix without her permission and distributed them to labs around the globe, where they were multiplied and used for a diverse array of treatments. Known as HeLa cells, they became one of the world's most ubiquitous sources for medical research of everything from hormones, steroids and vitamins to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, even the polio vaccine—all without the knowledge, must less consent, of the Lacks family. Skloot spent a decade interviewing every relative of Lacks she could find, excavating difficult memories and long-simmering outrage that had lay dormant since their loved one's sorrowful demise. Equal parts intimate biography and brutal clinical reportage, Skloot's graceful narrative adeptly navigates the wrenching Lack family recollections and the sobering, overarching realities of poverty and pre–civil-rights racism. The author's style is matched by a methodical scientific rigor and manifest expertise in the field.

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and Petri dish politics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5217-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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An absorbing, wide-ranging story of humans’ relationship with the water.


A study of swimming as sport, survival method, basis for community, and route to physical and mental well-being.

For Bay Area writer Tsui (American Chinatown: A People's History of Five Neighborhoods, 2009), swimming is in her blood. As she recounts, her parents met in a Hong Kong swimming pool, and she often visited the beach as a child and competed on a swim team in high school. Midway through the engaging narrative, the author explains how she rejoined the team at age 40, just as her 6-year-old was signing up for the first time. Chronicling her interviews with scientists and swimmers alike, Tsui notes the many health benefits of swimming, some of which are mental. Swimmers often achieve the “flow” state and get their best ideas while in the water. Her travels took her from the California coast, where she dove for abalone and swam from Alcatraz back to San Francisco, to Tokyo, where she heard about the “samurai swimming” martial arts tradition. In Iceland, she met Guðlaugur Friðþórsson, a local celebrity who, in 1984, survived six hours in a winter sea after his fishing vessel capsized, earning him the nickname “the human seal.” Although humans are generally adapted to life on land, the author discovered that some have extra advantages in the water. The Bajau people of Indonesia, for instance, can do 10-minute free dives while hunting because their spleens are 50% larger than average. For most, though, it’s simply a matter of practice. Tsui discussed swimming with Dara Torres, who became the oldest Olympic swimmer at age 41, and swam with Kim Chambers, one of the few people to complete the daunting Oceans Seven marathon swim challenge. Drawing on personal experience, history, biology, and social science, the author conveys the appeal of “an unflinching giving-over to an element” and makes a convincing case for broader access to swimming education (372,000 people still drown annually).

An absorbing, wide-ranging story of humans’ relationship with the water.

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-61620-786-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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