Thursday, October 15, 2015

Newly Diagnosed Cancer? Here is Your "What to Expect" Book

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, but every month is the right time for preventative medicine (schedule that physical and mammogram!) For me, this is a milestone year, with daily Facebook reminders that my high school classmates are turning the big 5-0. As we start this wonderful "second half"of the game of life, more and more of us are facing the challenge of a cancer diagnosis.

As a family doctor, I have too often seen the deer-in-the-headlights look on my patient's face as I shared the difficult news of a cancer diagnosis. Each time, I feel like time stops for a few moments, and like a cartoon character babbling on, my words are collecting out there in a balloon while the word CANCER echoes back and forth in my patient's reality. I have had countless friends, colleagues and relatives face this challenge as well, and in every situation, my heart aches to help them as my medical brain searches for answers. I am a family physician, so while I am well versed at diagnosing a variety of cancers, I have limited hands-on experience in treatment.

Julie Silver, MD, is a Harvard doctor who specializes in rehabilitation medicine. She faced the diagnosis of breast cancer herself at only thirty-six, right in the middle of being a busy mom, wife and full time physician and medical author. As such, she is uniquely qualified to author "Before and After Cancer Treatment: Heal Faster, Better, Stronger" and the second edition has recently been released by Johns Hopkins University Press. From my perspective, Dr. Silver's book is the perfect blend of scientific analysis of cancer treatment and practical advice on "what to expect when you have cancer." My generation loved our "what to expect" books for pregnancy and toddler years, and now we have a book that meets that practical function when the cancer bomb explodes into our lives.

Dr. Silver addresses alternative medicine, meditation, exercise, spirituality, love, relationships and goal-setting. She advocates for patients to seek second opinions and be proactive about cancer PREhabilitiation to get "as strong as possible- physically and emotionally- BEFORE you begin treatment." She incorporates her personal experiences as well as those of many others, including excerpts from a book she published with the American Cancer Society called What Helped Get Me Through: Cancer Survivors Share Wisdom and Hope, as well as vignettes from other books and survivors.

Facing cancer often means many hours of down time, when the chemo-fatigue drains you of productive energy. Sleep is good. True rest is VERY good. Friends providing family meals and pitching in on the "invisible work" of groceries, laundry, and house maintenance is extremely helpful. Let your friend diagnosed with cancer conserve their energy for the things that matter the MOST- their family, their passions. Tuck this book in with the first meal that you provide.

BOTTOM LINE: If you (or your friend) is diagnosed with cancer, Dr. Silver's new book is a great resource to HEAL FASTER, BETTER, STRONGER. 

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