Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Review: A Breast Cancer Alphabet

Title: A Breast Cancer Alphabet
Author: Madhulika Sikka
Genre: Memoir
My Rating: 4.5 Stars
Quick review: A personal guide to navigating the world of breast cancer for patients, caregivers and anyone that might want to know more about the effects of the deadly disease.

Here's the book trailer:

My views on this book:

“Cancer” is not an alien topic for me. I face this word every single day. But unlike many other women, I get to leave the word and thoughts of it when I wrap up my day job dealing with cancer research and head back home. At least for now. I am one of the very few whose personal lives has not yet been touched by this deadly disease.

If you are as big an NPR fan as I am and if it is part of your daily routine (on radio as well as on twitter), then Madhulika Sikka is a familiar name. She’s the executive editor of NPR News. What was news to me was the fact that she was also a breast cancer survivor. I was curious when I picked up a copy of her book – A breast cancer alphabet. Is there anything new I could learn about cancer from this book, I wondered. Turns out there is! There is so much more than just the science to cancer. It is such an intensely personal “journey” (as many would like to call it). As the author herself says on page 93, 

My breast cancer was not mystical, or enchanting or exotic. My breast cancer was not and is not a journey. Getting through cancer is no different from getting through some other terrible disease because that is what it is, a disease. It’s okay to treat it like one. 

“A Breast Cancer Alphabet” is presented like an alphabet book. And between A for Anxiety and Z for Zzzzs, you understand Breast Cancer from the author’s point of view. 

It is an honest description of the trials and tribulations of navigating the murky waters of breast cancer right from diagnosis, through treatment all the way to survivorship. Written with a dash of wit.
Perfect read for someone who is newly diagnosed with breast cancer and is overwhelmed with all the reading material and technical jargon thrown at her from all directions. 

One of my favorite sections in this book is “I for Indignities”. Here she talks about the bright-siding of breast cancer – “a land of sparkling brightness personified by women who are happy and smiling while they are ‘battling’ this disease”. And she ends the chapter by saying “My point is breast cancer is many, many things. What it is not is a fun ride. It is a painful and debilitating and public, and it is okay to feel indignant about that.” Some needs to say it and I am glad she did. 

Recently, a friend was diagnosed with breast cancer. I knew all the technical terms and understood the science behind the diagnosis but when it came to actually talking to her, I had no clue where to begin or how to proceed. 

I really wish I had read this book by then.

Buy this book from Amazon.com


bermudaonion said...

This sounds like an important book. I hope I never need it.

Trish said...

Wow--this looks like a really powerful book. I didn't realize that you were in cancer research. I'm very slowly listening to The Emperor of All Maladies and cancer is both fascinating and horrifying.