YOU CAN SAVE YOUR BREAST: One Woman's Experience with Radiation Therapy by Larry & Valere Althouse Althouse

YOU CAN SAVE YOUR BREAST: One Woman's Experience with Radiation Therapy

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The case for treating breast cancer with radiation alone--presented, however, without dismissing the other possibilities. Valere Althouse was successfully treated for early breast cancer with irradiation therapy, after following knowledgeable friends' advice that she avoid mastectomy; but she and husband Larry encountered hostility and intimidation from surgeons in their search for alternatives. In spite of some doomsday predictions (""do you want her maimed for life,"" said one physician to Larry), Valere experienced only slight side effects--mostly fatigue--during a five-week course of treatment. The Althouses--both counselors, he's a clergyman--also devoted some effort to affirmation and imagery therapy, to involve ""the possible healing power of the mind and spirit""; but they make no special claims for these techniques, and their emphasis is on orthodox breast-cancer treatment. Besides telling their own story, they summarize the ongoing controversies: why such cancers may develop; one-step vs. two-step operating procedures (also, the incidence of unnecessary breast removal); why mastectomy is so popular with physicians; the current state of hormone, chemo- and immune-therapies; the (conservative) American Cancer Society stand. On radiation therapy, we learn that newer techniques have decreased the incidence of side effects (including skin bums), also increased the therapy's efficacy by directing higher dosages more directly at the tumor. In addition, the Althouses review prevention and early detection techniques. So while those faced with immediate choices should still turn to the Salsbury and Johnson Indispensable Cancer Handbook (K 1981, p. 1280), this simple, personal tale and brief overview gives a boost to new treatment possibilities and once again emphasizes that cancer is not an unbeatable disease.

Pub Date: May 24th, 1982
Publisher: Norton