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Best Breast Cancer Books

Medically Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on January 11, 2021

Breast cancer is the most common cancer for women living in the United States, second only to skin cancers.

If you were recently diagnosed with breast cancer, or you know someone who was, books can be a great way to answer your questions and learn more about breast cancer. Here are some great breast cancer reads, as recommended by doctors and people living with breast cancer.

Pink Ribbon Blues: How Breast Cancer Culture Undermines Women’s Healthby Gayle Sulik

Nancy Stordahl was diagnosed with stage IIB breast cancer in 2010. Since then, she’s been sharing her breast cancer experience candidly through her blog, Nancy’s Point, and several books including, Facing Your Mastectomy & Making Reconstruction Decisions and Getting Past the Fear.

Stordahl says “Pink Ribbon Blues was an eye-opener. Sulik, a medical sociologist and research associate, explores the “pink ribbon” breast cancer-related industry through historical and cultural research, campaign and advertisement analysis, and hundreds of interviews.

“Book preferences vary. I’ve read a lot of cancer books and I get something out of each one,” Stordahl says. “There are a lot of terrific reads about cancer out there. Memoirs are always my favorite because I love reading about personal experiences.”

My Parent Has Cancer and It Really Sucks by Maya and Marc Silver

Barbara Jacoby, a two-time breast cancer survivor who runs the award-winning blog Let Life Happen, recommends this book.

“I have found that most people have neither the time nor the disposition to read a book these days, especially if they are in the middle of treatments at any level while trying to manage the rest of their lives,” she says. “However, I would like to think about our family members who are also affected by our cancer and suggest books for them.”

This book in particular uses “real-life advice from real-life teens,” Jacoby says. Maya was 15 when her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. She and her father, Marc, draw from their own experiences and a range of experts to offer practical guidance for living with cancer.

Dear Friend:Letters of Encouragement, Humor, and Love for Women with Breast Cancerby Gina Mulligan

Jane Meisel, MD, a medical oncologist at the Winship Cancer Institute and an associate professor at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, calls this book fantastic. It’s a series of letters written by women to other women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.

When Mulligan was diagnosed with cancer she received many letters of encouragement. The experience led her to found a nonprofit, Girls Love Mail, to support others. The book features a collection of handwritten letters from women who have with breast cancer. The messages run the gamut, from empathetic to inspiring and even humorous.

The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen: Nourishing, Big-Flavor Recipes for Cancer Treatment and Recovery by Mat Edelson and Rebecca Katz

Anna Crollman, who was diagnosed with breast cancer at 27 and founded the blog My Cancer Chic, suggests this book. In it you’ll find more than a hundred easy-to-prepare dishes designed to boost the appetite and help with treatment side effects like fatigue, nausea, and weight loss. Recipes range from soups to veggie-based meals, as well as savory and sweet snacks.

Crollman adds that Brené Brown’s Rising Strong also spoke to her “in a self-improvement, self-reflective space.”

Cancer Was Not A Gift & It Didn’t Make Me A Better Person by Nancy Stordahl

Susan Rahn, an advocate, public speaker, and writer who has stage IV metastatic breast cancer, is a fan and personal friend of Nancy Stordahl.

“She’s very real about it,” Rahn says. “She gets real with people. And then she also has kind of like a guide to get you ready for chemotherapy and kind of get you past the fear of it so that you know what to expect, which is super helpful for a lot of people.”

Stordahl’s memoir builds on her recollection as a caregiver for her mother, who had metastatic breast cancer, and Stordahl’s personal experience as someone diagnosed with breast cancer. Her candid writing paints a straightforward portrait of cancer and helps unravel unrealistic society expectations.

Everybody’s Got Something by Robin Roberts

Meisel also recommends Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts’ memoir.

Roberts breathes life into her experience with breast cancer and a rare blood disorder, Meisel says. She details her medical leave and the outpouring of support from friends and family alike as she made her way through uncharted waters.

Roberts explains that “we’ve all got something,” to deal with, whether it’s facing grief and heartbreak or a medical crisis. But she adds that we also all have something to offer -- namely hope and encouragement.

Dodging Dandelions: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Acceptance by Ron Richards

This book, Jacoby says, is “a memoir of love, loss and acceptance by Ron Richards, describing the journey that he and his wife took while she was diagnosed multiple times with cancer.”

Richards presents a husband’s perspective on his wife Sara’s breast cancer experience. He also discusses other challenges the couple faced together.

Persevere: A Life with Cancer (Reflections on Love and Loss, Family and Friendship, Compassion and Courage) by Lisa Adams

Rahn says Adams was the first person she connected with after her cancer diagnosis.

“She was just amazing,” Rahn says. “She really chronicled everything … and she had this saying, people still say it all the time: ‘Find a bit of beauty in the world today, share it and if you can’t find it, create it. Some days this may be hard to do but persevere.’”

Persevere: A Life with Cancer is a compilation of Adams’ most popular writings. It includes journal entries and poetry. Her book helps people who have cancer feel understood and helps those without cancer understanding the experience.

The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan

Corrigan’s “middle place” is the overlap of parenthood and childhood. She found herself there when she was acting as a caretaker for her father while living with her own breast cancer diagnosis.

Corrigan shares her experiences with humor and candor, Meisel says.

In-Between Days: A Memoir About Living with Cancer by Teva Harrison

Rahn says this book stands out because it’s in a graphic novel format. “It’s very easy to read.”

Harrison, who was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in her 30s, uses short personal essays and illustrations to detail what it’s like living with breast cancer. She tackles everything from identity crises to uncertainty as she considers both long-term goals and her new normal. She also addresses the emotional aspects of balancing cancer and her relationships with friends and family.

WebMD Feature

Sources

SOURCES:

American Cancer Society: “How Common Is Breast Cancer?”

Sulik, G. Pink Ribbon Blues: How Breast Cancer Culture Undermines Women’s Health, Oxford University Press, 2011.

Nancy Stordahl, breast cancer survivor; blogger, Nancy’s Point, author, Facing Your Mastectomy & Making Reconstruction Decisions, Wisconsin.

Silver M. and Silver, M. My Parent Has Cancer and It Really Sucks, Sourcebooks, Inc., 2013.

Barbara Jacoby, breast cancer survivor; blogger, Let Life Happen, California.

Mulligan, G. Dear Friend, Letters of Encouragement, Humor, and Love for Women with Breast Cancer, Chronicle Books, LLC., 2017.

Girls Love Mail.

Jane Meisel, MD, medical oncologist, Winship Cancer Institute; associate professor, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta.

Edelson, M. and Katz, R. The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen: Nourishing, Big-Flavor Recipes for Cancer Treatment and Recovery, Ten Speed Press, 2009.

Anna Crollman, breast cancer survivor; blogger, My Cancer Chic, North Carolina.

Brown, B. Rising Strong, Spiegel & Grau, 2015.

Stordahl, N. Cancer Was Not A Gift & It Didn’t Make Me A Better Person, www.NancysPoint.com, 2015.

Susan Rahn, breast cancer patient; blogger, Stickit2Stage4, New York.

Roberts, R., Chambers, V. Everybody’s Got Something, Grand Central Publishing, 2014.

Richards, R. Dodging Dandelions: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Acceptance, Mitchell Canyon Communications, 2014.

Adams, L. Persevere: A Life with Cancer (Reflections on Love and Loss, Family and Friendship, Compassion and Courage), The Bonchek Family Foundation, 2017.

Corrigan, K. The Middle Place, Hyperion, 2008

Harrison, T. In-Between Days: A Memoir About Living with Cancer, House of Anansi Press, Inc., 2016.

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