For those forced to navigate the frightening territory of cancer, this road map provides a reassuring, direct passage.


Empowered Journey through Cancer


Using her personal journey as a backdrop, the wife of a cancer survivor offers a guide to formulating a plan when faced with a cancer diagnosis.

When Carrothers’ fiance, Michael, discovered a lump on his groin, he was hesitant to have it checked out. But because of Carrothers’ experience as pharmacist who works in oncology, and a gut feeling, she was adamant that he do so. Michael’s first doctor diagnosed it as an infection and sent him home with antibiotics. But after five days, the swelling was no better. Fast-forward to Carrothers’ insisting on a biopsy. The dreaded diagnosis came back: non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The two kicked into planning mode and devised a strategy: They invited their families to dinner and delivered the news. There, they discussed some of their foreseen needs and enlisted the families’ aid. Carrothers details the importance of creating a “personal team” to help out with things such as food preparation, household chores and crucial emotional support. She and Michael moved up their wedding date so she could apply for medical leave at work and have more time to help him. Carrothers also advises creating the “professional team,” listing, among others, an oncologist, an oncology nurse and an oncology pharmacist, as well as a financial navigator to help determine coverage for insurance and medications. She discusses in detail the use of a surgically placed port for delivering chemo, relating Michael’s experience with it and the many possible side effects of chemo, such as thrush, changes in taste and smell, fatigue and even cognitive changes. Carrothers underscores the need to be your own advocate: “You have to trust your gut and get your doctor to listen. If your doctor is not listening to you, you have the right to fire your doctor.” The tone here strikes a perfect balance between reassuring and personal, pragmatic and practical. In addition to a list of helpful websites at book’s end, Carrothers skillfully weaves her advice and knowledge into the compelling journey she took with her courageous husband.

For those forced to navigate the frightening territory of cancer, this road map provides a reassuring, direct passage.

Pub Date: April 17, 2014

ISBN: 978-1492966289

Page Count: 106

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: July 3, 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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