Book List

Making a List

Making a List

Here is a collection of books on cancer-related topics that have been recommended by members of the cancer blogging community.  The opening section highlights Books By Bloggers from the Being Cancer Network.  Please support them.  Books that I have reviewed can be found on the Reviews page of this blog.  Click on the blue link following each book description if you want to purchase a new or used copy. (* Disclaimer:  I earn 4% of purchase price on items ordered from this site.) If you have written a book or read a book that you would like to see added to the list, please comment below or email me at

Books By BloggersWriting Talent from our own Being Cancer Network

~ The Adventures of Cancer Bitch” by Sandi Wisenberg.  Blog: Cancer Bitch “Forget the sappy little pink ribbons. When chemotherapy takes S. L. Wisenberg’s hair, she turns her bald head into an antiwar billboard. Read The Adventures of Cancer Bitch to meet a smart, funny, big-hearted woman who questions everything from her own mortality to career envy to why nobody thinks the particulars of hair loss are as fascinating a subject for extended dinner-party conversation as she does. Along the way, Wisenberg makes you proud to think that you, too, might possibly be a cancer bitch.”—Ruth Pennebaker, author, Both Sides Now. Order from Amazon:The Adventures of Cancer Bitch

~ Breastless in the City – Cathy Bueti.  Blog: In My Life Order from Amazon: Breastless in the City: A Young Woman’s Story of Love, Loss, and Breast Cancer

~ Diary of an Illness – Dennis W. Pyritz.   Blog: Being Cancer Network.   Free e-book at Diary of an Illness – A Cancer Nurse Battles a Rare Leukemia

~ Help Me Live – 20 Things People with Cancer Want You to Know – Lori Hope.  Blog: What Helps. What Hurts. What Heals. – CarePages Order from Amazon: Help Me Live: 20 Things People with Cancer Want You to Know

~ Living With Multiple Myeloma – Pat Killingsworth.   Blog:   Order from Help With Cancer Bookstore – Living Longer and Better Lives with Cancer

~ My Journey with Meningioma – Jackie Ng   (e-book)  My Journey With Meningioma

Cancer Book List:

~ The Anatomy of Hope: How People Prevail in the Face of Illness“Jerome Groopman, M.D.  Why do some people find and sustain hope during difficult circumstances, while others do not? What can we learn from those who do, and how is their example applicable to our own lives? The Anatomy of Hope is a journey of inspiring discovery, spanning some thirty years of Dr. Jerome Groopman’s practice, during which he encountered many extraordinary people and sought to answer these questions. This profound exploration begins when Groopman was a medical student, ignorant of the vital role of hope in patients’ lives–and it culminates in his remarkable quest to delineate a biology of hope. With appreciation for the human elements and the science, Groopman explains how to distinguish true hope from false hope–and how to gain an honest understanding of the reach and limits of this essential emotion. Purchase from Amazon: The Anatomy of Hope: How People Prevail in the Face of Illness

~ Battling and Beating Cancer The Cancer Survival Book – Scott Seaman.  Curing cancer is the authors’ mission and the book includes a strategy for curing cancer and a national call to action. The authors make suggestions as to how you can help through cancer education and awareness, patient advocacy, fundraising, organizing, and public policy advocacy. Whether guided by altruistic motives or a desire to have better treatments available for yourself or family members, cancer patients and families impacted by the disease must lead the critical mission of curing cancer and helping those along the way. Purchase from Amazon: Battling And Beating Cancer: The Cancer Survival Book

~ Breathless – Lurlene McDaniel.  Travis Morrison is a champion diver and one of the most popular kids at school. On the first day of summer vacation, while boating on the lake with his friends, Travis attempts a silly stunt dive that goes wrong. He fears he has broken his leg. Instead, his trip to the hospital reveals he has a rare form of cancer, and to save him, the doctors tell his parents they must amputate. In an instant, Travis’s life and the lives of everyone around him are forever changed. Travis is determined that he and only he should decide the course of his life. He has a plan, but he can’t carry it out alone. Will he convince one of his friends to fulfill his most important request? Lurlene McDaniel tackles a controversial subject, probing the issues of personal choice and quality of life. Purchase from Amazon: Breathless

~ Cancer on $5 a Day – Robert Schimmel.  Schimmel already had a hit HBO stand-up comedy special and a Stand-Up of the Year title from the American Comedy Awards when, in the spring of 2000, he was diagnosed with Stage III non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. His world changed instantly; success in the raunchy joke trade-he also had an edgy FOX series in development-was replaced by the struggle for survival, the rigors of chemotherapy and all the fear and uncertainty that goes with it. Schimmel also looks back on his son, whom he lost not long before to brain cancer. Among a crowded field of inspiring and straight-talking personal survival stories, Schimmel’s conversational account is particularly ribald, emphasizing the importance a sense of humor can play in coping, learning and healing. Purchase from Amazon: Cancer on Five Dollars a Day (chemo not included): How Humor Got Me Through the Toughest Journey of My Life

~ Dancing in Limbo: Making Sense of Life After Cancer” G. Halverson-Boyd and L. Hunter.  “Here’s a book that finally tells the truth about living in limbo. For those who are surviving cancer, it provides validation, support, and guidance in coping with the threat of recurrence … a process that stretches into the years following a cancer diagnosis. For families, friAnds, and health professionals, it eloquently and powerfully portrays the emotional experience of life after cancer–helping us to better understand, admire, and learn from those who have had to confront their mortality and are forever changed by this experience.” (Andrew W. Kneier, Ph.D., clinical psychologist, UCSF/Mount Zion Cancer Center) Purchase from Amazon: Dancing in Limbo: Making Sense of Life After Cancer (Jossey Bass/Aha Press Series)

~ Death, Be Not Proud (PS) – John J. Gunther.   Johnny Gunther was only seventeen years old when he died of a brain tumor. During the months of his illness, everyone near him was unforgettably impressed by his level-headed courage, his wit and quiet friendliness, and, above all, his unfaltering patience through times of despair. This deeply moving book is a father’s memoir of a brave, intelligent, and spirited boy. Purchase from Amazon:  Death Be Not Proud (P.S.)

~ Every Second Counts – Lance Armstrong.  Every Second Counts confronts the challenge of moving beyond his cancer experience, his first Tour victory, and his celebrity status. Few of Armstrong’s readers will ever compete in the Tour de France (though cyclists will relish Armstrong’s detailed recounting of his 2000-2003 tour victories), but all will relate to his discussions of loss and disappointment in his personal and professional life since 1999. They will relate to his battles with petty bureaucracies, like the French court system during the doping scandal that almost halted his career. And they will especially relate to constant struggles with work/life balance.  In the face of September 11–which arrives halfway through the narrative (just before the fifth anniversary of his diagnosis)–Armstrong draws from his experiences to show that suffering, fear, and death are the essential human condition. In so openly using his own life to illustrate how to face this reality, he proves that he truly is a hero–and not just because of the bike. In Every Second Counts he is to be admired as a human being, a man who sees every day as a challenge to live richly and well, no matter what hardships may come. Purchase from Amazon: Every Second Counts

~ The Human Side of Cancer: Living with Hope, Coping with Uncertainty” Jimmie C. Holland, M.D. and Sheldon Lewis.  “There are two aspects to the human side of cancer: what cancer does psychologically to people and their families, and how emotions and behaviors may influence the risk of getting cancer and its outcome,” writes Jimmie C. Holland, M.D., founder of the field of psycho-oncology (the psychological issues of cancer) and chairman of the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. “The human side of cancer is all encompassing; it’s about you, your surroundings, and your experience of the illness.” Doctors often don’t have the time or the skills to deal with psychological issues. The Human Side of Cancer tackles the emotional issues of cancer head-on. Holland knows there’s no “one size fits all” coping style and is sensitive to each reader’s uniqueness and belief system. “We do have overwhelming proof, however, that how you cope with your illness can improve your overall quality of life,” she asserts. The theory that cancer patients with a “fighting spirit” have a better chance of survival than those who are passive is not, it turns out, supported by research. But whether or not your personality is spunky and confrontational or laid-back and accepting, you can use your own methods of coping to make sure you live a healthy lifestyle and hang in there with your cancer treatment–which does improve your chances of survival. The authors explain how you can choose a doctor who demonstrates the “Three C’s” (competence, compassion, and caring) and gives you practical instructions for making the most of each doctor’s appointment. The book also covers coping strategies, the psychological effects of different treatments, psychosocial issues related to specific forms of cancer, and the “emotional baggage” of surviving. The Human Side of Cancer combines sensitive advice and explanations with quotes and anecdotes of cancer patients, research summaries, self-help tips, and checklists. The book is for both the cancer survivor and family members. Anyone dealing with cancer will benefit from Holland’s wisdom and experience. –Joan Price       Purchase from Amazon: The Human Side of Cancer: Living with Hope, Coping with Uncertainty

~ The Intimacy of Death and Dying – Claire Leimbach, Trypheyna McShane, and Zenith Virago.  The death of a loved one can be one of life’s most challenging times. Written in an accessible and reassuring style, “The Intimacy of Death and Dying” provides readers with comfort and guidance to help them through this difficult period. Filled with practical strategies and heartfelt advice – from how to talk about death and dying with children to preparing for your own funeral, and from dealing with personal grief to comforting loved ones in their last days – as well as a number of firsthand accounts from those who have survived the death of a loved one, this is an essential guide to coping with and preparing for life’s last great adventure. Purchase from Amazon: The Intimacy of Death and Dying: Simple Guidance to Help You Through

~ It’s Always Something – Gilda Radner.  Brave, funny, and painfully honest, the twentieth-anniversary edition of It’s Always Something is the story of Gilda’s journey while living with cancer and her determination to continue laughing. “Cancer,” she said, “is about the most unfunny thing in the world.” But Gilda’s gutsy and unique sense of humor never left her as she describes two years of cancer treatment — surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation treatment, as well as the high and low points of her own career.  Told as only Gilda could tell it, and newly revised to include a resource guide for those living with cancer, It’s Always Something is the inspiring story of a courageous, funny woman determined to enjoy life no matter the circumstances. Purchase from Amazon: It’s Always Something: Twentieth Anniversary Edition

~ Love & Death: My Journey Through the Valley of the Shadow – Forrest Church.  As pastor of New York’s All Souls Unitarian Church, Church is perhaps most comfortable speaking in sermons, which may also be especially comforting, now that he has received a veritable death sentence via terminal cancer, to his congregants and the readers of his many books. The famously liberal minister-son of Idaho’s storied mid-twentieth-century liberal senator Frank Church here uses several sermons delivered during the span of his career to explore the bond humans have with death in relation to love, a topic he has addressed often when congregants or their loved ones have died. He concludes that to live is to love, that without love there can be no life. Thus the terms life and love become interchangeable, and life-love is a risk we all must take. Church speaks directly to the heart with a message of certain solace to virtually anyone facing the loss of a loved one. –Donna Chavez Purchase from Amazon:Love & Death: My Journey through the Valley of the Shadow

~ Not Now, I’m Having a No-hair Day – Christine Clifford.  Straightforward and honest, Not Now, I’m Having a No Hair Day paints a realistic picture of what it was like for Christine Clifford to discover breast cancer, undergo surgery, and endure months of radiation and chemotherapy treatments. Her moments of fear, frustration, embarrassment, love, and joy are captured playfully in 60 cartoons. Cancer patients and their families will readily enjoy a humorous look at a serious subject. Purchase from Amazon: Not Now I’m Having A No Hair Day

~Patient Siggy – Sigourney Cheek.  Approaching her 60th birthday, Cheek (aka Patient Siggy) receives the disturbing diagnosis of chronic lymphocytic leukemia, which then transforms to the even more acute Richter’s syndrome, a B-cell lymphoma. As she copes with the realization that she has cancer and begins chemotherapy, she is unable to summon the energy for phone calls, so she decides to e-mail friends and relatives. One e-mail leads to another, and before long, Cheek is communicating with 160 people. The e-mail chain becomes a source of healing and inspiration for Cheek, and as she continues to open up her life to others, prayers and good wishes fill her inbox. Cheek chronicles her progress in an ongoing journal, incorporating e-mail messages along the way. Generous and gracious throughout, the author even entertains more than 30 friends at her long-awaited birthday celebration on the island of Mallorca, Spain, where she has always summered. Cheek, a transplanted Yankee who lives in Nashville, was raised Catholic but attends an Episcopal church. While she maintains that her sacred prayer chain aids in her healing, she’s not preachy and often finds a comical twist (a perk of chemo is No bad hair days). While her story is, indeed, inspirational, her writing becomes repetitious as she segues between events as they happen and e-mailed accounts. Purchase from Amazon: Patient Siggy: Hope and Healing in Cyberspace

~Pretty Is What Changes – Jessica Queller.  TV writer Queller (The Gilmore Girls) was 31, single and healthy when her mother succumbed to ovarian cancer at the age of 58, having battled breast cancer six years earlier. Queller chronicles her mother’s long and anguished struggle in vivid detail. After her mother’s death, at the suggestion of an acquaintance, Queller opted to discover whether she carries the breast cancer gene; indeed, she tested positive for the BRCA-1 gene mutation, which gave her an 87% chance of breast cancer before age 50 and a 44% chance of ovarian cancer in her lifetime. With this knowledge in hand, Queller began the journey toward her pivotal choice: a prophylactic double mastectomy at age 35. Along the way she traveled between the West Coast and New York City, seeking medical opinions, information and unsuccessfully—but not for lack of trying—a man she can love who will father her children before she follows up with voluntary surgery to remove her ovaries. This Hollywood writer’s story is seamless and gripping; readers will be rooting for Queller and her heroic decision to confront her genetic destiny.       Purchase from Amazon: Pretty Is What Changes

~ Sammy’s Mommy Has Cancer – Sherry Kohlenberg.  When Sherry Kohlenberg was diagnosed with cancer, she wrote this book to help her son understand what was happening to her. Written in spare, simple language, this is a comforting guide for children aged about three to seven. The American Medical Writers’ Association voted it “Best Book of 1994”. Purchase from Amazon:Sammy’s Mommy Has Cancer

~ Truth & Beauty: A Friendship – Ann Pachett.  This memoir of Patchett’s friendship with Autobiography of a Face author Lucy Grealy shares many insights into the nature of devotion. One of the best instances of this concerns a fable of ants and grasshoppers. When winter came, the hard-working ant took the fun-loving grasshopper in, each understanding their roles were immutable. It was a symbiotic relationship. Like the grasshopper, Grealy, who died of cancer at age 39 in 2002, was an untethered creature, who liked nothing more than to dance, drink and fling herself into Patchett’s arms like a kitten. Patchett (The Patron Saint of Liars; Bel Canto) tells this story chronologically, in bursts of dialogue, memory and snippets of Grealy’s letters, moving from the unfolding of their deep connection in graduate school and into the more turbulent waters beyond. Patchett describes her attempts to be a writer, while Grealy endured a continuous round of operations as a result of her cancer. Later, when adulthood brought success, but also heartbreak and drug addiction, the duo continued to be intertwined, even though their link sometimes seemed to fray. This gorgeously written chronicle unfolds as an example of how friendships can contain more passion and affection than any in the romantic realm. And although Patchett unflinchingly describes the difficulties she and Grealy faced in the years after grad school, she never loses the feeling she had the first time Grealy sprang into her arms: “[She] came through the door and it was there, huge and permanent and first.” Purchase from Amazon: Truth & Beauty: A Friendship

~ Why I Wore Lipstick: to my Mastectomy – Geralyn Lucas.  Lucas was 27, happily working as a 20/20 producer, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Suddenly, her world became a blur of appointments with surgeons and emotional breakdowns. Her book’s catchy title belies its substantial content: this is an honest, perceptive memoir from a feisty survivor who’s willing to discuss every detail, like getting sick in cabs during chemo treatments, baldness and sex. In fact, the book opens with Lucas, who’s now 36, recounting her visit to a New York topless bar as she agonizes over losing a breast and contemplates reconstructive surgery. Lucas doesn’t dismiss her fears; she talks about wanting to have a child and how her husband withdraws when so many other people step in to provide her with emotional support. What makes her memoir so moving is the author’s breezy style and her focus on the daily details of her illness (“I am in the shower, and when I start lathering my comb-over, most of it stays in my hands. The big patches of hair just come out. No warning”). The story of Lucas’s recovery, and of the birth of her daughter, make her book surprisingly optimistic and immensely empowering.       Purchase from Amazon:  Why I Wore Lipstick: To My Mastectomy

Grieving Books for Children



Book List — 3 Comments

  1. Cancer Schmancer by Fran Drescher (remember “The Nanny”) – took 2 years and 9 doctors for her to get a diagnosis of uterine cancer

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