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04/06/2009 - Articles

Review: The Cancer Patient's Workbook

By: Robert W. Griffith, MD

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I left this book with the head nurse at our local Cancer Treatment Center for a few days; when I went to pick it up, she told me "If I get cancer, this book is the first thing I'll buy."

Many people with cancer have written books about their individual battles with the disease, in the hope of helping and inspiring others. None, however, has done what Joanie Willis, a 7-year survivor of stage-4 lung cancer, has achieved. Her Cancer Patient's Workbook is just what its title implies - it provides information, advice, and inspiration, in an attractive, easy-to-take format.

The initial diagnosis of cancer often dumbfounds the patient, so that the search for accurate information on treatment options, healthcare costs and insurance is often disorganized and haphazard. The Workbook organizes all this, and more, making use of a variety of approaches - lists, questionnaires, short articles, hints and tips, quotations, book recommendations, and so on. For instance, there's an up-to-date listing of cancer-care resources, checklists for questions to ask your health professional before you have a diagnostic or treatment procedure, a glossary of complex medical terms, and so on.

Most importantly, the Workbook moves effortlessly between the practicalities of treatment (including coping with side effects), through nutrition, food supplements, complementary medicine, and the emotional aspects of the struggle. Although most people who get cancer will not die from it, there is an insightful chapter that deals with the practical and spiritual sides of preparation for death.

You are clearly meant to read the Workbook with your pencil at the ready. There are boxes to be filled or checked on most pages, and occasional quizzes in the nutrition chapter. You are prompted to enter your thoughts and feelings in other places. Some may feel this is too much like a return to the classroom. However, there is no doubt that people with cancer need help in acquiring and organizing information on their condition and its treatment, and this is probably the best practical tool available today. I left the Workbook with the head nurse at our local Cancer Treatment Center for a few days; when I picked it up, she told me "If I get cancer, this book is the first thing I'll buy".

Unfortunately, the Workbook is aimed squarely at people in the USA, so that some of the information is not applicable in all countries. However, the rest of the contents more than make up for this, and people worldwide will find much to help them in its pages. The price is remarkable right - less than $15 (US). I can recommend it wholeheartedly.

Source

The Cancer Patient's Workbook: everything you need to stay organized and informed.  Willis, 1st edition, DK Publishing, Inc. New York, NY, 2001

Links

Share the Care by Cappy Copossela, Sheila Warnock and Sukie Miller The Cancer Patient's Workbook by Joanie Willis

Created on: 08/04/2003
Reviewed on: 04/06/2009

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