HAD I KNOWN by Joan Lunden


A Memoir of Survival
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The former Good Morning America host takes readers backstage in this unvarnished account of her bout with breast cancer.

A longtime advocate for women's health, Lunden (Wake Up Calls: Making the Most Out of Every Day, 2000, etc.) lives her life in the public eye. When she was diagnosed with two cancerous tumors in June 2014, she announced the news on national TV. The author describes the challenge of putting on a brave public face while undergoing rigorous treatment. Her stress peaked in September, when she was asked to appear on the cover of People without a wig to cover her chemotherapy-induced baldness. The decision to go ahead with the photo shoot was difficult, but she ultimately agreed. Her youthful appearance belied her age of 64, and her appearance was an important part of her celebrity status. “I am all about ‘sixty is the new forty,’ ” she writes, sharing her unwillingness to be called Grandma even though she adored the role. After her diagnosis with a rare type of aggressive breast cancer, the specialists she consulted were initially at odds about the best treatment protocol: whether to operate first or start with an initial round of chemotherapy before operating. The stakes were high. If the chemo treatment was successful, then the surgery would be less invasive; if it wasn’t, postponing surgery increased the risk. Lunden opted for chemotherapy, then surgery, followed by more chemotherapy and radiation. A strict diet and exercise regimen were also part of the package. The author describes her elation when the doctors determined that her tumors had shrunk dramatically after the first round of chemo. The side effects from chemotherapy were rough, but with the support of family, friends, and fans, Lunden was able to maintain her active lifestyle. Though not without its overwritten sections, the book is inspiring and informative.

An unflinching account of “the good, the bad, and the bald, ugly truth” about cancer.

Pub Date: Sept. 22nd, 2015
ISBN: 978-0-06-240408-4
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 2015


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