Living Through Breast Cancer

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9780071444637: Living Through Breast Cancer

A compassionate and uniquely authoritative guide to surviving breast cancer

Dr. Carolyn M. Kaelin is nationally recognized as a leading expert on breast cancer. At the age of 42, this highly respected cancer surgeon and the director of the prestigious Comprehensive Breast Health Center at Brigham and Women's Hospital, one of Harvard Medical School's main hospitals, had a young family and demanding career. When she discovered that she had breast cancer, she was suddenly transformed from doctor to patient--and learned firsthand just how this terrible disease makes women question their sense of self. Now, following a mastectomy and an ongoing course of chemotherapy, her prognosis is good and her passion and commitment to helping other women with breast cancer is greater than ever.

In a book that will be a source of priceless information and much-needed understanding and support for women with all forms of breast cancer, Dr. Kaelin provides the most up-to-date information on virtually every aspect of the disease, both as a top specialist in the field and as a survivor. Compassionate, comprehensive, and uniquely authoritative, Living Through Breast Cancer provides women with:

  • State-of-the-art medical knowledge interwoven with hard-won advice on dealing with the emotional and aesthetic ramifications of breast cancer and its treatment
  • The most complete guidance on treatment options, maintaining health after cancer, feeling and looking good, and keeping one's sense of self while getting through each day
  • Groundbreaking information on exercise techniques that can significantly reduce the chance of recurrence and nutritional advice to improve overall health

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From the Back Cover:

As seen on Good Morning America!

"A breast surgeon and director of the Comprehensive Breast Health Center at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and herself a breast cancer survivor, Kaelin has the credentials to offer advice to women newly diagnosed. She discusses the process from diagnosis and surgical options to treatment, image concerns, and after-treatment issues, e.g., diet, fertility, and sexuality.

"Her lucid text is broken into major sections, then smaller and smaller subsections, along with sidebars, and is further enhanced by black-and-white illustrations. She covers the latest thinking on surgical recommendations and the newest drug considerations (capecitabine chemotherapy for older women; Tamoxifen vs. aromatase inhibitors for adjuvant use), while using her own experience as a reference point.

"Kaelin's goal is to help eradicate the "imprint" of cancer from women's lives by presenting them with sufficient knowledge and the power to make informed choices."

--Library Journal

In summer 2003, forty-two-year-old Carolyn Kaelin, M.D., was the devoted mother of two beautiful children, a loving wife, and a highly respected cancer surgeon and the director of the Comprehensive Breast Health Center at Brigham and Women’s hospital, one of Harvard Medical School’s main teaching hospitals. During the previous six months, she had been training for the 190-mile Pan-Mass Challenge bike ride, a fundraiser for cancer research. Barely two weeks before the ride took place, Dr. Kaelin discovered that she, herself, had breast cancer. It was then she slipped through the looking glass on a journey that took her from doctor to patient. Five surgeries eventually culminated in a mastectomy. On the heels of this came chemotherapy and a course of anticancer medication. All of these experiences taught Dr. Kaelin profound lessons that years of medical training and doctoring experience could not. She learned first-hand, as few physicians ever do, about the challenging emotional and life changes facing breast cancer patients. And she came to understand how this disease can eat away at a woman’s innermost sense of self.

Like an island of calm at the center of a storm of questions and anxiety, Living Through Breast Cancer is a source of priceless information, understanding, support and guidance for women dealing with breast cancer. A leading national expert on breast cancer, Dr. Kaelin explains with compassion and in plain English the science behind the disease while defining many medical terms and concepts that may be unfamiliar. She describes your options at every stage--from diagnosis through treatment, recovery, and beyond--so you can work with your doctors to make the most informed decisions possible. She shares hard-won advice on dealing with the physical and aesthetic changes you may undergo during treatment, while filling you in on diet and exercise techniques that can help you look and feel your best during treatment and may lower your risk of a recurrence of the disease. And, with the help of intimate details from her own battle with cancer--as well as the stories of many brave women whose voices you’ll hear throughout these pages—Dr. Kaelin prepares you to meet the emotional challenges you’ll face and to find the courage and focus to maintain your sense of self while getting through each day.

Written by a physician who has experienced breast cancer from both sides of the stethoscope, Living Through Breast Cancer is a wise and compassionate companion you’ll want to take with you on your journey back to health.

A compassionate and uniquely authoritative guide to surviving breast cancer

Dr. Carolyn Kaelin understands breast cancer as few physicians do. In addition to being a leading national breast cancer expert and a highly respected cancer surgeon, she also is a breast cancer survivor. In Living Through Breast Cancer she draws upon her experiences as both doctor and patient to offer you a priceless source of understanding, support and guidance on coping with and beating breast cancer. In plain language, she demystifies breast cancer and explains the latest medical knowledge about the disease, its treatment and its aftermath. She tells you what you need to know to work with your doctors and make the most informed decisions about your treatment. And she shares intimate details of her own battle with breast cancer--along with the stories of other women’s struggles--to help you gain a fresh, empowered perspective on the emotional and psychological challenges you’ll face on your own journey back to health.

Living Through Breast Cancer combines state-of-the-art medical knowledge with hard-won advice on:

  • Understanding your diagnosis and assembling a care team
  • Making sense of your treatment options and making informed decisions
  • Understanding your feelings and holding on to your sense of self while getting through each day
  • Managing the aesthetic aspects of breast cancer and its treatment--includes tips on looking and feeling your best and the various reconstructive surgical options open to you
  • Maintaining good health after breast cancer--including breakthrough exercise techniques and nutrition advice that may significantly lower your chances of a recurrence of breast cancer

"In 2003 at age 42, Carolyn M. Kaelin, M.D., a respected cancer surgeon, discovered she had breast cancer.  She had a mastectomy and chemotherapy, hair loss, and countless conversations with doctors about her condition and diagnosis. Of course, Dr. Kaelin's discussions about her breast cancer were more sophisticated than most, since she is the director of the Comprehensive Breast Health Center and Brigham and Women's Hospital, one of Harvard Medical School's top teaching hospitals.

The irony in Dr. Kaelin's experience is hard to miss, but the outcome, aside from a promising diagnosis, is an up-to-date, reliable medical guide with personal commentary scattered through the text.  Here's a sample: "I had a custom breast form made two months after my surgery.  The form I chose required plaster casting of my intact breast. If you decide to do this, be sure to wear old clothes and shoes--the plaster drips!"--Mamm Magazine, May/June 2005

"This comprehensive book by a noted assistant professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School is all the more believable because she is also a breast cancer survivor. In writing this book, she draws on years of clinical expertise as well as up-to-date research to compassionately guide the newly diagnosed from the first numb, fearful days after hearing their diagnosis through the confusing maze of treatment options and on toward making the best possible recovery. She is in a unique position to suggest strategies for facing the emotional and physical challenges that go hand-in-hand with breast cancer."--Lifeline

About the Author:

Carolyn M. Kaelin, M.D., M.P.H., F.A.C.S., is the director of the Comprehensive Breast Health Center at Brigham and Women's Hospital, a surgical oncologist at Dana Farber Cancer Institute, and an assistant professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School. A nationally respected researcher in the field of women's health, she currently is lead researcher on three studies on quality of life with breast cancer. Dr. Kaelin is the recipient of the prestigious Mary Horrigan Connor Award for Outstanding Contributions to Women's Health.

Francesca Coltrera is a medical writer in the Boston area who has covered women's health and many other topics for well over a decade. She is a frequent contributor to Harvard Health Publications and has written for several health web sites. Her work also has appeared in Redbook, Self, Technology Review, and the Boston Herald.

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