The Human Side of Cancer: Living with Hope, Coping with Uncertainty

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9780060173715: The Human Side of Cancer: Living with Hope, Coping with Uncertainty

In The Human Side of Cancer, Jimmie C. Holland, M.D., explores the broad range of emotions people with cancer and their loved ones experience from the moment of diagnosis through the treatment and its aftermath. For more than twenty years, Dr. Holland has pioneered the study of psychological problems of cancer patients and their families -- whom she calls "the real experts." In The Human Side of Cancer, she shares what she has learned from all of them about facing this life-threatening illness and what truly helps along the cancer journey. This book is the next best thing to sitting in Dr. Holland's office and talking with her about the uncertainty and anxiety elicited by this disease. And it is a book that inspires hope -- through stories of the simple courage of ordinary people confronting cancer.

Offering the latest scientific information about the mind-body connection and cancer, Dr. Holland dispels the countless myths surrounding this controversial subject, including the notion that a person with cancer is somehow to blame for getting the disease or for not getting better.

Dr. Holland disputes the current one-size-fits-all approach to coping with cancer, based on her experience that everyone has a unique way of coping, which should be respected. She also provides the latest information on "medicine that doesn't come in a bottle" counseling, support groups, meditation, and other coping strategies that can help. This book imparts Dr. Holland's message of common sense and caring.

The Human Side of Cancer provides practical and compassionate guidance for dealing with

  • A diagnosis of cancer and its uncertainties
  • Societal myths and beliefs that may make coping more difficult
  • Cancer treatment and its aftermath
  • Life after a cancer cure
  • Illness when comfort replaces cure as a goal
  • Issues for families, including grief

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Review:

"There are two aspects to the human side of cancer: what cancer does psychologically to people and their families, and how emotions and behaviors may influence the risk of getting cancer and its outcome," writes Jimmie C. Holland, M.D., founder of the field of psycho-oncology (the psychological issues of cancer) and chairman of the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. "The human side of cancer is all encompassing; it's about you, your surroundings, and your experience of the illness."

Doctors often don't have the time or the skills to deal with psychological issues. The Human Side of Cancer tackles the emotional issues of cancer head-on. Holland knows there's no "one size fits all" coping style and is sensitive to each reader's uniqueness and belief system. "We do have overwhelming proof, however, that how you cope with your illness can improve your overall quality of life," she asserts. The theory that cancer patients with a "fighting spirit" have a better chance of survival than those who are passive is not, it turns out, supported by research. But whether or not your personality is spunky and confrontational or laid-back and accepting, you can use your own methods of coping to make sure you live a healthy lifestyle and hang in there with your cancer treatment--which does improve your chances of survival. The authors explain how you can choose a doctor who demonstrates the "Three C's" (competence, compassion, and caring) and gives you practical instructions for making the most of each doctor's appointment. The book also covers coping strategies, the psychological effects of different treatments, psychosocial issues related to specific forms of cancer, and the "emotional baggage" of surviving.

The Human Side of Cancer combines sensitive advice and explanations with quotes and anecdotes of cancer patients, research summaries, self-help tips, and checklists. The book is for both the cancer survivor and family members. Anyone dealing with cancer will benefit from Holland's wisdom and experience. --Joan Price

About the Author:

Jimmie C. Holland, M.D., is chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City and professor of psychiatry at Weill Medical College of Cornell University. Dr. Holland received the American Cancer Society's highest award, the Medal of Honor, in 1994. She lives in Scarsdale, New York, with her husband, James F. Holland, M.D.

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