Best and Worst Books on Breast Cancer

mountainmia Member Posts: 857

I looked to see if there is a book review thread already and there hasn't been for several years. This is the latest one I could find easily, and it doesn't really have reviews, just some recommendations.

I'm interested in hearing about books you love and books you hate. They can be about breast cancer with general information, or memoir, nutrition or exercise advice, even fiction.

Tell us the name of the book, author, and a little about it. Why do you recommend it? Or why not? Is there something you found especially helpful? Something that made you huff and walk away?

I'll start with one in the first comment.


  • mountainmia
    mountainmia Member Posts: 857

    Beat Breast Cancer Like a Boss: 30 Powerful Stories, by Ali Rogin.

    This is a compilation of stories of 30 powerful, resourceful, often rich women, and their experiences with breast cancer. The author, Ali Rogin, found out while still in college that she had inherited a breast cancer gene. She immediately decided to have prophylactic double mastectomy with reconstruction. And BONUS! She would get bigger boobs as a result. Honestly, she actually said it was a "win-win."

    The women profiled all have gone through the wringer, as those of us here, have. A big difference is that most of them have resources that we can only dream of. Don't you wish you could have your private personal assistant research the best doctors in LA? Don't you wish you could go to a spa for 2 weeks after each surgery, so you can recover without your children around to hug and hurt you? (No. That was just weird.) Don't you wish you could have a year of paid leave from your company while you go through treatment? Or have the nanny deal with all your kids' needs while you're laid up? Or be able to choose the rich folks' hospital on the Gold Coast of Chicago instead of where most people get treated?

    One woman recommends to a newly diagnosed friend that she go buy "cashmere everything" for her chemo days, so she will feel cozy and sporty.

    Sure, beat breast cancer like a boss. Sure. Way easier to do if you have a lot of resources. Honestly, I'm not sure what this book is supposed to be conveying. It doesn't convey what most women experience. (Most descriptions of chemo were that you would just as soon die, or you'd spend a day or 2 sick to your stomach each cycle. That isn't what I read very often around here, though of course I know some experience that.) NONE of these profiles so far (and I'm 70% through the book) have mentioned having to fight with the insurance company to get some treatment approved.

    I've managed to get most of the way through this book. There's no point in reading the rest. Unfortunately, those who do spend time with it won't get good advice and they won't likely feel a sense of kinship with the women profiled here.

  • flashlight
    flashlight Member Posts: 311

    Hi, I read this book on treatment and really found it informative. Breasts: The Owner's Manual: Every Woman's Guide to Reducing Cancer Risk, Making Treatment Choices, and Optimizing Outcomes Kindle Edition by Dr. Kristi Funk . Other than reading some research articles on Tamoxifen, lymphedema, and the Keto cancer diet, that has been it. I can't relate to the book you read either!! It sounds like a reality TV show. I love a good mystery and really enjoyed Robert Dugoni's Tracy Crosswhite series. It is well written and interesting and this type of book is an escape for me.

  • voraciousreader
    voraciousreader Member Posts: 3,696

    Not a book, however the best resource is

    And, probably THE most valuable book would be one on statistics. There are educational videos about statistics on youtube. Learn about statistics or brush up on statistics if you have already taken a class. Statistics is THE most important thing to know about once you have been diagnosed. Learn it as though your life depends on it because it really does...

  • moth
    moth Member Posts: 3,293

    I'm with voraciousreader. Id also add all the guidelines from the various orgs. They're updated frequently and give the strengths of the recommendations bases on how extensive the research is.

    & I ditto statistics and probability. What does it mean when a coin lands on heads 20 times? Does the probability that it's tails next time increase? (Assuming a fair untampered coin)

  • mountainmia
    mountainmia Member Posts: 857

    Yes, stats are hard for most people to understand. There was a recent post from someone asking about including chemo in her treatment. IIRC, she was triple negative with a tumor about 1.4 cm. She said some statistical life expectancy showed her a LE of ~20 years if she did chemo and ~17 years if she did not, so she wondered why she would go through chemo for such a small difference in life expectancy, esp given her age, around 60 if I remember right.

    I tried to explain (and didn't do a good job of it) that no, she wasn't looking at 20 vs 17 years. She was really gambling between 20 and 5 years. But I didn't show the math of how that works. Chemo and no recurrence, 20 years. No chemo with no recurrence, 80% probability, 20 years; no chemo with recurrence, 20% probability, 5 years. Obviously a quick and dirty calculation, but that's sort of how it goes.

    So yeah, stats. And that begs the question, is there a good primer for layman's understanding of medical stats?

  • melissadallas
    melissadallas Member Posts: 929

    Mountainmia, it also doesn’t help that all the ER/Pr+ Her neg Stage 1As are so eager to answer those threads that THEY decided against radiation and chemo (or other treatments), not that chemo would even have been recommended for the anyway...

  • mountainmia
    mountainmia Member Posts: 857

    Yes, MelissaDallas. It always pisses me off when people claim they declined treatment and they're doing just fine! but really, they had surgery and radiation, and they weren't lined up for chemo, anyway. Maybe they were prescribed hormone blockers or targeted treatments and declined those. Maybe they wouldn't have had a recurrence anyway. Maybe they have a recurrence and don't know it yet, because their tumor is slow growing. So yay good for them, and I mean that sincerely. But don't then try to convince others not to be treated. That's not fair.

  • flashlight
    flashlight Member Posts: 311

    statistical analysis equals the study of data and possible probability. It all depends on the research going in to the data. When I was first diagnosed I read all I could on the statistics and then on Tamoxifen. Right now, I'm done with that part of it. Sometimes we just need a break from all the science.

  • moth
    moth Member Posts: 3,293

    It's not specifically about medical stats but I watched this Teaching Company course a while back - Meaning from Data: Statistics Made Clear

    Stats was required for my nursing program. It was just regular first year statistics & probability. I think any general stats courses on youtube or coursera would be fine. Whether you apply it to elevators failing or medications not working, the data analysis is the same

  • ksusan
    ksusan Member Posts: 461

    Hi! I haven't been in the forum for awhile, but I wanted to let you know that I've just published a book that's centered on my experience of having breast cancer. It's called Cancer, Kintsugi, Camino: A Memoir. I was a very involved BCO member through most of my active treatment in 2015 and I can't say enough good things about this community. My two chemo groups from BCO are still in touch on Facebook and we've had a couple of meetups since.

    Here's the description on Amazon:

    "Not just a memoir of breast cancer and the Camino de Santiago. It's also about Jewish identity, atheism, family, AIDS, COVID, metaphors and similes, breathing, bricolage, journeys, self-reflection, and hypothetical cuckoos. Through richly-layered fragments of lyrical prose and poetry, Shoshana Kerewsky conveys the rhythms of thought, feeling, and walking in a sparkling narrative mosaic."

    Here's the cover,


    And here's me on the Camino de Santiago in Spain.


    If you read it, I hope it speaks to you!

  • cowgirl13
    cowgirl13 Member Posts: 761

    I highly recommend "Understanding Lumpectomy A Treatment Guide for Breast Cancer by Rosalind Benedet, N.P and Mark Rounsaville, MD. Rounsaville is head of Radiation at CPMC, San Francisco.

  • SandraDublin
    SandraDublin Member Posts: 16

    Some good recommendations and some to avoid above! I have gone online when looking up stats and information, including this forum and guidelines, however what i found helpful is to read and listen on other people’s experiences in how to process the mental and emotional aspect of my breast cancer diagnosis and what lies ahead for treatment and hopefully moving on and living my life.

    One book was called Ticking Off Breast cancer by Sarah Liyanage a UK 40 something Mum and lawyer who narrates the physical, emotional and mental challenges thrown at her by cancer and provides an honest view into her treatment and alongside this adds practical to-do lists to each chapter.

    I also found Liz O’Riordan’s blog and instagram stories very practical and honest, she’s a UK breast surgeon who had for breast cancer herself twice and realised how little she actually knew from a patient perspective. She also has a great book for people recently diagnosed called the Complete Guide to Breast Cancer. I’ve found some exercise book recommendations from here too which I’ve ordered.

    I also enjoyed an Irish podcast called How to Fall Apart which had a series on cancer and talked to women who have themselves received a cancer diagnosis on coping with treatment, living with cancer and what happens in the aftermath as well as health professionals and general advice. There are a lot of great podcasts out there and I get strength and comfor listening to others experiences and challenges they have gone through.

  • ratherbesailing
    ratherbesailing Member Posts: 105

    I completely agree with those who recommend studying statistics, and just wanted to chime in that another source for free courses is Coursera.

    I also just started "Talking to Your Doctor: A Patient's Guide to Communication in the Exam Room and Beyond" by Zachary Berger. There are a couple similar books out there. I think many of us have concerns about being heard and also interpreting what we're being told. Cancer is a long journey, and anything to make the most of our appointments and relationships with any of our care providers might be useful.

  • vlnrph
    vlnrph Member Posts: 439

    Although it doesn't specifically focus on BC, I highly recommend The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee. It won a Pulitzer in 2011. I found it to be a fascinating read.

    If the heft of the volume is off-putting, PBS did a documentary under the same title several years ago. I don't usually suggest books over a decade old but the history presented in this one is timeless.

  • greenbean2468
    greenbean2468 Member Posts: 16
    edited May 24

    Hey there, it's not a book about breast cancer, but I wanted to recommend a truly wonderfully written book by a leukemia survivor that I recently finished.

    Between two kingdoms: A memoir of a life interrupted by Suleika Jaouad

    Though her treatment and recovery were 1000x more challenging than mine, I could relate so much to wide range of emotions that comes with a diagnosis. It's also about her re-entry into life after treatment.

  • mountainmia
    mountainmia Member Posts: 857

    Sounds interesting, greenbean. Thanks for including it here.