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Guides for Surviving Breast Cancer

Posted Sep 13 2010 6:07am

©Brenda Coffee. All rights reserved.

The first day I met my oncologist, he sent me home with a three ring binder full of information and a stack of pamphlets from the drug companies. Some pamphlets were from competing companies, telling me why their chemotherapy drug was better than their competitor’s. They actually wanted me to make this important decision as though it were as easy as choosing one brand of detergent over another. I was horrified! In addition, nothing in that giant stack of stuff gave me any helpful information about what I was facing or the best/safest way to get through the next year. As a result, like most cancer patients, I fell into a lot of potentially life-threatening holes because no one told me what they were or how to avoid them.

I don’t want that to happen to you, or anyone you love, so I have written two books to help newly diagnosed cancer patients and their caregivers get through this time in their lives: The Breast Cancer Sisterhood, A Guide to Practical Information & Answers to Your Most Intimate Questions and Husbands & Heroes, A Guide to Help You & Thank You for all You Do. I wrote them while going through treatment, while every moment was still nauseatingly fresh in my chemo addled brain.

The real reason I wrote these books is because of my friend, Darlene. We were diagnosed the same day and began chemo the same day, but only one of us is still here to tell the tale. Darlene died from cutting her cuticles. You heard me! Her breast cancer prognosis was excellent, but she died from cutting her cuticles, however no one told her not to cut them. No one told me either.

As we went through chemo, Darlene and I would talk on the phone. She told me about a place on her finger that was red and swollen. Each time we spoke, it had gotten larger and larger, but she didn’t want to bother her doctor because he was busy. “Yes,” I told her, “busy taking care of patients like you. Call him,” but she never did. Because of chemo, her immune system was compromised, and Darlene died of a massive staph infection antibiotics couldn’t stop. Her death hit me hard. That’s when I began writing... all the things that even the best of doctors, on any given day, may not tell you. Every one of the topics in The Breast Cancer Sisterhood you absolutely must know. Here are just a few: What to do before, during and after chemo and radiation; critical precautions about hair, skin, nails, teeth, eyes and mouth, dangers of constipation and diarrhea, sex and/or lack of, reconstruction, important nutrition info written by a cancer nutritionist and letters written especially for this book including one by Elizabeth Edwards.

Because you are scared and your thinking is scattered, you won’t remember things like you normally do, so I’ve deliberately kept The Breast Cancer Sisterhood book short. It’s 82 pages. Short, concise and to the point with as many potentially life-saving tips as I can give you. It is the book I wish someone had given to me when I was diagnosed.

If you have a husband or caregiver, or know someone who’s going through treatment, my book, Husbands & Heroes, is even shorter and more to the point. Guys, this is not about you, but you need to pony up because your family needs you. I will take you by the hand and show you how to be a caregiver. You don’t have to have all the answers, just hold her hand, listen to her concerns, take her to all of her appointments and be there for her.

The Breast Cancer Sisterhood is a club that does not discriminate against age, race or gender. We are the sisters you never wanted; the club you feared joining. The cost of membership can be frightening and life-threatening, but it can also be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. I wish I could hug each one of you, but I will tell you to keep singing, keep laughing. Pull from each moment the things you want to remember. Savor them. Cherish them. Live your life with joy!

The Breast Cancer Sisterhood and Husbands & Heroes are for sale on Amazon.com and from the RETAIL THERAPY link on BreastCancerSisterhood.com.
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