Surviving breast cancer

PHOTO: Surviving breast cancer

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in Singapore. According to the Health Promotion Board, one in 17 women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime.

However, thanks to better medical treatment, more women are able to survive the illness. Yet, challenges remain for survivors.

This month's book selection by the National Library Board focuses on breast cancer survivors and how they overcome the obstacles they face in daily living.

The C-Word

By Lisa Lynch

From a breast cancer survivor comes a funny and startlingly candid account of how she dealt with breast cancer. Lisa Lynch describes her journey from the devastating moment she knew of her breast cancer, accepted it and fought back, right up till the moment she is breast cancer-free and ready to live her new life.

In one chapter, "Old red eyes is back", Lynch vividly recounts her experience with (the lack of) taste in the aftermath of chemotherapy, "With my tastebuds as obliterated as my hair, we had figured out that it took around four days for me to be able to taste anything. Everything between Chemo Friday and Tuesday tasted like carpet...Whatever I was eating might have tasted like wax or feet or concrete or fabric softener for all I knew" (125).

Publisher: London: Arrow, 2010.Call Number: English 362.196994490092 LYN – [HEA]

Lynch does not hold back from describing her experiences and emotions throughout her journey, as seen from the above passage. Although bleak at times, the underlying humour in her words compels the reader to read on and root for her. The strength that Lynch, her husband and her family portray will tug at the heartstrings of the reader, making this a very inspirational book.

Lynch's honest and personal account of her breast cancer journey is written in an extremely readable manner, making it easy to both understand and empathise with her situation. This is one title that will make the journey just that little easier for cancer patients and their loved ones.





Stealing Second Base: A Breast Cancer Survivor's Experience and Breast Cancer Expert's Story

By Lillie Shockney

Told from the perspective of Lillie Shockney, a breast cancer survivor and nurse, this is her story of how she survived breast cancer and her journey of breast reconstruction. Through a mix of honest retelling and gentle encouragement, Shockey relives her best and worst moments of breast cancer and reconstruction, or "transformation", as her husband calls it, and offers encouragement to patients to look forward.

This book is divided into twelve chapters, with each chapter detailing an important part of Shockney's healing journey. The first three chapters deal with the phase of diagnosis up to the point of her mastectomy, offering insights into how she got through it. Shockney describes her feelings, worries, and light-hearted moments, by way of preparation for her readers who are looking for support.

Publisher: Sudbury, Mass.: Jones and Bartlett Publishers, c2007.Call Number: English 362.196994490092 SHO – [HEA]

The next few chapters discuss breast prostheses and breast reconstruction surgery. Shockney even shares "additional uses" for prosthesis and mastectomy bras, injecting much needed humour into the reality of the situation. As Shockney understands that breast reconstruction surgery may be a big step forward for many breast cancer patients, her candid account of why she chose surgery helps provide additional information for those who need it.

Finally, she briefly touches on what breast cancer survivors can look forward to in the future, and shares her personal experience with other breast cancer patients and their loved ones.

The combination of advice, encouragement and personal sharing makes this title one that breast cancer patients and survivors can relate to. For loved ones of breast cancer patients, the book will also provide them with a better understanding of what they can expect, and how they can better prepare for the realities of breast cancer.




Intimacy after breast cancer: dealing with your body, relationships and sex

By Gina M. Maisano

Written for breast cancer survivors, this is a handbook on how to face the challenges that intimacy after breast cancer may bring.

Author Gina Maisano offers advice for both married and single women, touching on issues that doctors may not normally discuss with their patients. As a breast cancer survivor herself, Maisano's advice stems from personal experience and interactions with other patients.

This book is divided into two parts - part one focuses on "Your Personal Reclamation", and part two is focused on "Your Sexual Reclamation".

Your Personal Reclamation

Publisher: Garden City Park, NY: Square One Publishers, c2010.Call Number: English 616.99449 MAI – [HEA]

Maisano understands that it takes work to rediscover yourself and rebuild your life after breast cancer. She stresses that by conquering yourself, you will be able to heal and regain your former life. Breast cancer might have taken its toll, but she offers advice on how to deal with the lingering side effects of the disease. Noting that it is important to manage a healthy diet and exercise regularly in order to lower the risk of recurrence, she offers anecdotes from her personal experience by way of encouragement.

Finally, it takes courage to 'reconstruct' your image and your breasts. Maisano believes that this is an important step to recovery, and she dishes out advice from cleansers, to shampoos, and current options available for breast reconstruction surgery to help you along.

Your Sexual Reclamation

Intimacy after breast cancer can be scary, and single and married survivors face different sets of challenges. In this section, Maisano identifies common intimacy issues that plague breast cancer survivors - low libido, low confidence, early menopause - and provides pointers on how to overcome them for a fulfilled life of intimacy ahead.

Breast cancer survivors who find it difficult to open up about intimacy will find this an invaluable book in helping them get started on their road to personal conquest after cancer.

These reviews were contributed by Fong Ying Yi, Librarian, National Library Board. Availability of the above titles can be checked via NLB's online catalogue at

The book covers are the copyright of the respective publishing companies.