Picking Up the Pieces: Moving Forward After Surviving Cancer

Reviewed By: Carolyn Vachani, MSN, RN, AOCN
Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania
Last Modified: May 20, 2007

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OncoLink Book Review - Picking up the pieces
Authors:Sherri Magee, PhD & Kathy Scalzo, MSOD
Publisher:Rutgers University Press
Information:ISBN 0743454537 | Paperback |224 Pages | $24.95 US
OncoLink Rating: 2 Stars

When cancer treatment is over, friends and family often think things will quickly be back to "normal". But any survivor can tell you, things may never be "normal" again. Having a cancer diagnosis changes a person. It changes how they think, act and live and very often they must find a new "normal". This can be a very difficult time for a survivor, leaving the security of weekly doctor's visits, frequent radiology scans to check on things and the familiar role of being a patient.

Enter Sherri Magee, a researcher who has spent many years developing "recovery" programs for cancer survivors, and Kathy Scalzo, a former health care professional who has worked in the areas of personal and group change. These women have developed a "practical recovery process" to guide cancer survivors through this difficult time. The book takes the reader through a four phase process of recovery, including inquiry, discovery, growth and reflection. It encourages the "participant" to adopt two daily reflections, which allow them to pay close attention to their internal thoughts and feelings. Throughout the book, quotes and experiences from survivors are inserted to further clarify concepts, such as the "healing plan" that each participant is encouraged to create.

The book is like a seventeen week support course. I say this because it is seventeen chapters and while reading it, I thought it would be best read over time. My only complaint was the length of the book. At over 300 pages, it may be tough for someone suffering from serious fatigue to get through, but by breaking it down over 17 weeks, it becomes more manageable. The program involves a lot of introspection and self evaluating, which can be difficult for some. Helping survivors step back into everyday life without losing the meaning of what they have experienced is a very important process, one that this book can take the reader through.


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