by Karen McMillan
There can’t be many people who have not been touched by cancer, personally or through friends and family. It is a disease with many forms, many names. It is a bogey disease that scares us, at least partly because we don’t know enough about its various manifestations, and what can, or should, be done when struck down by it. And while there is a mountain of information available if one has the time and the inclination to go looking for it, a lot of it can seem too clinical, too complicated, too obscure, or too darned hard to grapple with.
If there is one thing that can be said about cancer it is that, as Karen McMillan remarks in her introduction, there is no ABC about the disease: “Every person’s story is completely different. People with the same cancer can have different symptoms.” Treatments can vary; the same treatments can affect different people in different ways. Patients and their friends and families react in all the ways there are when faced with the realities of a diagnosis that is going to change their lives. They need information, comfort and help.
Karen McMillan’s own family has become very familiar with the disease, and she herself is a breast cancer survivor. For this book she has collected a wide range of personal accounts, which cover just about everything from diagnosis to death and all the issues that can arise in between. Her approach has been to interview a variety of people from medical and surgical specialists, doctors and hospital staff, as well as patients and everyone around them. These are all people who know what it is like to have cancer, or who know what to do about it, how to deal with it or perhaps, in the end, how to manage the dying from it.
This is not a cancer handbook. Rather it is a realistic, practical and remarkably upbeat book of more than 300 pages that could help to explain many aspects of a disease that is becoming much better understood these days. It will answer many questions, offer some hope, and most especially it should demystify cancer by bringing it out into the open and talked about, frankly and clearly.
Author: Karen McMillan
Publisher: McKenzie Publishing
ISBN: 978 0 473 31718 8
Available: Bookshops. RRP $34.99