A cancer survivor offers practical solutions for navigating a diagnosis of malignancy.
When she found a lump in her breast, Michele Ryan had just quit her stressful job in favor of staying home with her 3-year-old son. Four years after her cancer diagnosis, her husband was given his own cancer diagnosis, and he died within a year. Ryan’s story opens with a powerful account of her quick transition from career woman to cancer patient, and then it turns immediately to the book’s point: to help others traverse a new cancer diagnosis via humor, practicality and education. With a warm, reassuring tone, she begins with concrete advice—bring a friend, a pen and paper to every doctor’s visit; confirm statistics found on the Internet; enlist someone trustworthy to organize bills and handle insurance issues and appointments. She shares tips that only a cancer patient would know; for example, avoid scents, including pungent foods, if receiving chemotherapy. Ryan’s compassion informs each suggestion, including how to handle asking for or even accepting help. Her solution? Email a list of needs—laundry, transportation, food, pet-care needs—to nearby friends and family, thus avoiding the need to ask directly. Ryan addresses the body, mind and spirit. She offers strategies for managing depression and explaining the situation to children, and she helps prepare readers for the varied reactions and levels of support they might receive from family and friends. She also says that shopping for a wig can be fun—no more bad-hair days. As a 10-year survivor, the author doesn’t leave much unsaid. Her book can be read quickly but is an invaluable resource for encouragement from a brave woman with a lighthearted approach.
A slim, worthwhile handbook to tackling a new cancer diagnosis.