Hear these authors speak and have a chance to buy their books at the Dallas Patient & Survivor Forum.
[Rodale, 2004] By Mark Silver
In his introduction, Marc Silver gets right to the point: Men who are going through breast cancer with their wives need help in knowing what to do to be supportive and educated. “If you goof up on Valentine’s Day or forget your wife’s birthday, you can always make amends the next year,” Silver says. “But when your wife is fighting a life-threatening disease, you want to be on top of your game. The problem is, you’ve never been on the playing field before. ”
Silver takes you there in clear writing that is funny, poignant and well supported by professionals in each area he addresses, including treatment, sexuality and intimacy. Ultimately, Silver turns out a great book because, in addition to the medical crash course and sections such as “Hall of Shameful Husbands” and little “Guy Talk” quips, he gets it, saying that, ultimately, the most important thing a husband can do is be whatever his wife needs at the moment.
To men he says: “I’ve learned that the most important task for a breast cancer husband is to be there for his wife, and to listen to what she’s saying. I know, I know, it sounds so vague, but that’s the essence of your job."
[Perennial Currents, 2004] By Wendy S. Harpham, MD
For a number of years, patients and survivors have relied on the voice of Dr. Wendy Harpham to help them on their journey. Indeed, Dr. Harpham knows the journey only too well, having closed her own internal medicine practice when she was diagnosed with lymphoma in 1990 when her children were months short of 2, 4 and 6. Dr. Harpham suffered six recurrences of her cancer over the course of the next eight years, while writing and speaking extensively on cancer issues for survivors.
Her first book After Cancer: A Guide to Your New Life was followed by Diagnosis Cancer: Your Guide Through the First Few Months. When a Parent Has Cancer was initially published in 1997, and this latest edition brings new information from one of the country’s experts on childrearing during cancer.
The book focuses on every stage of the experience. Included with the book is Becky and the Worry Cup, an illustrated children’s book. Written with the help of her children, Dr. Harpham weaves information, inspiration and advice throughout the story of Becky, a kindergartner whose mother goes through cancer.Throughout, the message remains the same from Dr. Harpham, who explains that the “greatest gift we can give our children is not protection from the world but the confidence and tools to cope and grow.”
[Amherst Writers & Artists Press, 2004] By Sharon Bray, EdD
As a writer, I know the power of the written word to express what cannot be said. I also know that many people think they cannot “write” and therefore don’t try to record or understand their cancer experience by writing and therefore lose the wonderful healing that writing can bring.
Sharon Bray explains all this and more in her book, which is a combination of how to, her own story and the powerful writing of the Scribbling Women of the Community Breast Health Project in Palo Alto, California. Bray explores all the aspects of writing: how to do it (since there are few how not tos), how a writing group works and the powerful reactions of those who take part. If you are interested in the idea of writing—or beginning a writing group—this is a great book. Perhaps the most powerful part of Bray’s book is the actual writing that has been included from the group. My favorite is by a woman who had a bilateral mastectomy:
Someday I’ll be Grateful
By Karen Jandorf
If you touch my chest, you will feel my heart in your hand.
It is that close to the surface.
All its protective covering has been taken away.
If you hug me, you will feel my heart beat against your chest.
You will know the syncopation of my fear, my excitement, my equanimity.
There is no camouflage left.
If you see me, you will notice my shoulders fighting,
curling inward, stretching outward.
Conflicting desires to contract and expand.
If you sense me, you will feel my heart protecting itself.
It is too naked, too raw, too vulnerable.
Energetic armor created in the wake of exposure.
If you love me, though, you will invite me to unfold.
Your hand will become a safe haven for my broken-winged heart.
You will slowly and gently help me remove the suit of arms.
Your heart will become my polyrhythm and you will dance with me.