When I returned to Chicago in 2012 to date and marry my husband, I learned devastating news about my childhood friend. Her breast cancer had recently returned, and though I was able to chat and pray with her via phone, I never saw her alive again. It was a tough blow, and since then, I am dedicated to keeping the conversation going about breast cancer, well beyond Breast Cancer Awareness month.
Because of my deeply personal connection, my ears perked up when I learned about Dr. Janet Maker’s award-winning book, The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Breast Cancer. Dr. Maker’s empowering guide reveals critical information that is not commonly available for breast cancer patients who want to go beyond the standard of conventional one-size-fits-all care. It empowers women with the knowledge to make informed decisions that are best suited for themselves and their loved ones.
Having experienced breast cancer herself, Dr. Maker wants to address a misconception that conventional breast cancer treatment is a fairly exact science. The standard of care--some combination of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and hormones--doesn’t work for everyone. 40,000 women die of breast cancer every year in the U.S. after following the standard of care, and many more are harmed by serious side effects of treatment.
Fortunately, there have been some new developments in breast cancer treatment. A recent study found that 70% of those women who would formerly have been prescribed chemotherapy will not need it after all. And a woman was recently cured of stage IV breast cancer by immunotherapy. “Science is moving in the direction of personalized cancer care, but we are not there yet,” says Dr. Maker. “Meanwhile, it’s up to the patient to get the information she needs to make the best decisions she can about her own treatment, and also to choose the best doctors and hospitals.”
There are four important things that readers will learn from The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Breast Cancer:
- Empowerment: one of the best tools to be equipped with after a challenging diagnosis of breast cancer.
- Guidance: it will prompt breast cancer patients to ask critical but difficult questions of their doctors, hospitals, caregivers.
- Education: it addresses lifestyle changes people can make at home to help prevent recurrence (in the form of nutrition, diet, supplements, exercise, stress reduction, and avoidance of carcinogens).
- Awareness: there is no standard of care or singular approach that will produce a guaranteed outcome for every woman, which is why women need to be armed with information about all options and methods.
This book is an ideal resource for friends, family, loved ones who form the support network, in addition to the patient herself who wants information that goes beyond the limited information provided by doctors. Had this book been available a few years ago, I would have really liked to share this vital info with my dear friend.