Reviewed by: Carolyn Vachani, RN, MSN, AOCN
The Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania
Last Modified: April 11, 2008
Dr. Vladamir Lange (the author) and his wife, Mandy, are both physicians, yet when they first learned that Mandy had breast cancer, they were overwhelmed with the information being presented to them. When a woman first hears the words “you have breast cancer”, shock, anger and disbelief can consume their emotions. Unfortunately, it is at this very time that numerous treatment options and decisions are coming your way, most of which you’ve never even heard of, let alone understand. Educating yourself is the key to making decisions that you can live with – How can I do this, you ask? Read Dr. Lange’s book.
Be a Survivor is like taking Breast Cancer 101 at the local college. The author has modeled the chapters after the path most women follow: diagnosis and staging, surgery and reconstruction, treatment and recovery. The chapters are easy to read and understand and include diagrams and photographs to help further clarify complicated topics. The photos of mastectomy and reconstruction outcomes can be very helpful in visualizing what the surgeon tells you. The book includes a DVD that contains patient interviews, animated graphics and film clips from procedures discussed in the book.
Chapter 1 is my particular favorite. It covers things like telling family & friends (including the kids), your rights at work, and gathering support and assistance. As an oncology nurse, I cannot tell you how often I see families try to put on “a good face” for the kids. Dr. Lange shares with the reader an essay his 11 year old daughter had written when her mother was battling breast cancer. It is a touching reminder how important it is to include children in discussions; they are surprisingly insightful and may be thinking things are worse than they really are.
As the husband and partner of a woman with breast cancer, Dr. Lange has thoughtfully included a chapter just for the partners, who are often given a back seat to the patient. Dr. Lange has called on many experts in the field to create this up to date, comprehensive guide to breast cancer. The fourth edition includes some additional information about immunotherapy and radiation techniques, but if a friend gives you the 3 rd edition, you are still getting comprehensive, helpful information. His personal experience with the disease has made this resource like getting the information from a friend, one who wants to help you make well-informed decisions.