This Is Cancer: Everything You Need to Know, from the Waiting Room to the Bedroom

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9781441730589: This Is Cancer: Everything You Need to Know, from the Waiting Room to the Bedroom

[Read by Rachel Fulginiti]

Cancer is indiscriminate. It cares little for class, creed, or color. Its victims and their caregivers are everywhere. When Laura Holmes Haddad was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer at age thirty-seven, she discovered shelf upon shelf of overly earnest, somber, gray survival books instead of the straight talk she needed. She knew there had to be a better way.

This Is Cancer is the thoughtful, informative, and sometimes entertaining result for those who prefer their pathos with equal parts humor, reality, and a touch of flair. A ''what to expect when you're expecting'' book for the diagnosis you don't want but are stuck with, This Is Cancer is the book that patients keep in their ''heading to the hospital bag,'' because it's the only one that tells them what's going on and keeps them company.

Included here are such useful snippets as the following:

There is no limit to what you will put yourself through when told it might save your life.
Stay away from the Internet, and don't let anyone tell you what they looked up about your diagnosis.
You'll be surrounded by people, but sometimes you'll feel lonely and alone. Lexapro is Tylenol for the soul.
If you don't like your doctors, find new ones. You will feel somewhat at the mercy of them, like they hold the key to your mortality, but in fact, more than one doctor can potentially save you, and some are nice and some are mean.

Whether you or your loved ones want a primer full of useful information in an easy-to-reference format or a friendly and comforting read with honest, comforting, and darkly funny tips, This Is Cancer provides the real intel and advice that you need most during this tremendously difficult time.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Author Bio: Laura Holmes Haddad received her BA degree from Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, where she majored in comparative government. She spent one year studying international politics at the London School of Economics before enrolling in the chef's program at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco and receiving an AA degree. After working as a caterer in Northern California, she moved to New York City and became an assistant cookbook editor at Simon & Schuster. Five years later, she returned to California and pursued a freelance writing and editing career. She is the author of Anything but Chardonnay: A Guide to the Other Grapes and coauthor of Pure Flavor: 125 Fresh, All-American Recipes from the Pacific Northwest; and Lulu Powers Food to Flowers: Simple, Stylish Food for Easy Entertaining. After a three-year battle with breast cancer, she began writing about cancer and speaking about patient advocacy. When not writing, she can be found hiking, paddleboarding, reading, cooking, or swinging on a rope swing with her kids. She lives in Northern California with her husband, daughter, son, and a Dalmatian.

Narrator Bio: Rachel Fulginitiis a voice-over artist who has worked with companies such as Chrysler, Target, McDonalds, and eHarmony. A graduate of the Meisner Program at the School for Film and Television in New York City, she currently lives in Los Angeles.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

In those first months, I talked to nurses and doctors, schedulers and survivors, but what I didn’t hear was anything particularly helpful regarding the day-to-day stuff. I wanted to hear or to read what was really going to happen. What will it feel like to get a needle stuck in my armpit? What will I say to my kids when they ask what happened to my hair? What could I eat? What would chemo feel like? What would radiation do to my skin? What would I look like without breasts? I love nothing more than a plan and a list and neither was in sight.

I remember so clearly sitting on an exam room table speaking to a radiation oncologist at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston we were there getting a second opinion and she looked at me and said: This fucking sucks. It’s ok to cry and say it. Forget the pink warriors. You have cancer and it sucks.”

And that was what I craved to hear someone say something honest about what was happening. I felt so alone, and so isolated, and the only thing I wanted was answers. Books had come to my aid during pregnancy, before job interviews, when I needed to learn a language; my whole life I turned to books for answers. Why not this? The best I could find during the initial steps of my road trip were somber hospital brochures titled Coping with Cancer,” filled with photos of half-smiling patients and their caregivers drinking tea.

I needed something else, something honest and at times funny; something real and usable but also a companion, a friendly voice in your ear on a bad day; something that points out the absurdity of your new normal;” something that addresses the grim specifics that everyone else seems to gloss over; something to flip through when you’re wondering what to expect” from doctors, family, friends.

When I was first diagnosed with cancer, I pictured the Hollywood version of my sick self: a scarf on my head, a blanket on my lap, and an IV in my arm with one doctor and a few nurses hovering and a family that supported and cheered me up. Basically me, but bald and slightly nauseous.

It’s not like that.

It’s a team of doctors, endless nurses, endless scans and blood draws and procedures and confusion and frustration and exhaustion. And that’s just the first month.

Now I know that life will never be the same again after a cancer diagnosis. I know you will wish, hope it, pray for things to reset and go back to normal,” but they won’t. I know now that cancer changes everything.

Oh, how I wish someone had told me that on day one. How I wish someone had given me a book that said it all, in honest/grave/mordantly funny language, and saved me a lot of time and whiplash.

I wish someone had written this book.

My family and I had to educate ourselves while fighting for my life. I didn’t have the time or energy for support groups (many of us don’t); the research my family and friends did, together with real intel, bits of advice, and vignettes from young survivors, is what This is Cancer is about.

This is everything I have to share on the subject; what I heard and liked, what got me through the appointments, the assaults on my body, and the general shittiness that is being a cancer patient. I want to help you get through this, the most surreal, infuriating journey you’ll ever be on. And honestly, I can’t stand the word journey I prefer the term road trip. (Imagine a cross-country trip in a covered wagon, in the dead of winter, with an old mule pulling the wagon mile by excruciating mile while cars whiz by.)

Still, this isn’t a memoir or a pink ribbon go, fight, win” book. It’s something you can stick in your purse or bag and pull out while you’re waiting, and waiting, and waiting in the infinite number of waiting rooms that are in your future. You don’t have to read it cover to cover, or even finish the entire thing. It’s the one book you should be able to laugh with and feel relieved relieved to read. To feel, me, too.” To feel heard, when no one else in the whole entire world could possibly know what it’s like to be you right now.

Now, three-plus years in and armed with more than my fair share of cancer experience and the stories of others, I have put together this book for first-timers that they desperately need, that I desperately needed.
A book that says things like:

Chemo will be like the flu times a thousand and leave a lingering chemical taste in your mouth for months.
Your children might not look at you when your hair falls out.
There is no limit to what you will put yourself through when told it might save your life.
Stay away from the Internet. And don’t let anyone tell you what they looked up” about your diagnosis.
You’ll be surrounded by people but you’ll feel lonely, and alone, sometimes.
Lexapro is Tylenol for the soul.
You won’t be able to manage your life without an entire community helping out, and this will go on for much longer than you think.
Always question, always persevere.

Said another way, This is Cancer is a chronologically ordered primer, a what to expect when you’re expecting” reference book for the diagnosis you don’t want but are stuck with. This is the book that you and your loved ones or support system keep in your heading to the hospital bag,” because it tells you what’s going on and keeps you company. Let’s get started.

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