OncoLink

Be a Survivor: Your Guide to Breast Cancer Treatment

John Han-Chih Chang, MD
Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania
Last Modified: November 1, 2001

Author: Vladimir Lange, MD
Publisher: Lange Productions, 1998
Price: $24.95 US
ISBN: 0-9663610-0-8
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The author of this book, Dr. Vladimir Lange and his wife, also a physician, were overwhelmed at the discovery that she had breast cancer. Doctors bombarded them with information, and many decisions had to be made. The fact that two physicians, two people with extensive medical knowledge, could feel so intimidated by this disease, provided the impetus to write a comprehensive book about breast cancer. As Dr. Lange puts it: "We've tried to lay out the book in a way that mirrors your path through treatment and recovery."

The path begins with diagnosis, acknowledging the patient's feelings and the possible emotions of their family and friends. Diagnostic procedures are explained, as is breast cancer itself (molecular aspects, different kinds of breast cancer, and staging).

The path to recovery then leads the reader through treatment options; a comprehensive description of procedures and treatments comprises the majority of the book. Surgery options are explained, including mastectomy, lumpectomy combined with radiation therapy, and reconstruction options. This section is filled with very helpful pictures and diagrams, providing the reader a good idea of what to expect. Chemotherapy is also explained: how it works, a typical treatment day, and possible side effects. These chapters describe potential discomfort levels associated with each treatment, and recovery advice. A small section is devoted to "complementary therapies and alternative treatments." It mentions meditation, the use of laughter, and diet.

The path ends with a discussion of recovery, from both a physical and an emotional standpoint. There is also a chapter devoted to the patient's partner, addressing their fears, concerns, and questions about how they can be of help.

This book is very well-researched and informative; dozens of experts contributed their time and their knowledge. The wisdom it provides the reader will help in making well-informed decisions, and knowing what to expect will certainly alleviate some anxiety. The author's style contributes to the value of this book as well. One can really sense his compassion and his genuine desire to help those with breast cancer fight their disease. He filled the book with pictures and quotes from women who have been through this, providing the reader with a sense of strength and companionship. This very easy-to-read, 154 page book can be used in conjunction with a CD-Rom and a video.