Metastatic Breast Cancer: Your Essential Reading List

Pamela Kaufman | Sept 28, 2017

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Whether you’re looking for delicious anti-cancer recipes, medical experts’ answers to at least 100 of your cancer Q’s, or a memoir from a fellow resident of Cancerland, the following books will keep you turning the pages. Find them on amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, or one of the links that follow.

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'The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen' by Rebecca Katz and Mat Edelson

Credit: Images courtesy of Ten Speed Press/Penguin Random House

Katz, a chef who has worked with some of the biggest names in integrative medicine, translates the latest science into dishes like orange-ginger roasted chicken and spiced sweet-potato soup. Her recipes are loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory ingredients but are all about what she calls “the power of yum.”

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'Cook for Your Life: Delicious, Nourishing Recipes for Before, During, and After Cancer Treatment' by Ann Ogden Gaffney

Credit: Images courtesy of Avery/Pam Krauss Books/Penguin Random House

When Gaffney, a fashion designer, was undergoing breast cancer treatment, she used her considerable skills as a home cook to adjust recipes to her changing moods and energy levels — wisdom she shares in this cookbook. Chapters include “Soothing” and “Simple” (for the tough days) and “Spicy,” “Sweet,” and “Safe” (for the good days).

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'The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying' by Nina Riggs

Credit: Images courtesy of Simon & Schuster: Nina Riggs Photo Credit: Toni Tronu

Riggs was 37, a poet, a wife, and a mother of two young boys when she was diagnosed with stage I breast cancer. “No one dies from one small spot,” she writes. Then, at age 38, she discovered that the spot had metastasized. She chronicles the sadness and joy of her final two years with metastatic breast cancer in this gorgeously written book, completed just one month before her death.

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'In-Between Days: A Memoir About Living with Cancer' by Teva Harrison

Credit: Images courtesy of House of Anansi & Groundwood Books

Harrison, a 37-year-old graphic artist, dealt with the whirl of emotions that accompanied her stage IV cancer diagnosis in the only way she knew how: by depicting her story in comic strips. She pairs those stark black-and-white illustrations with short, lyrical essays, sharing the highs and lows (and the in-betweens, too) of her new normal.

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'Camp Chemo: Postcards Home from Metastatic Breast Cancer' by Camille Scheel

Credit: Beaver's Pond Press, Inc.

When Scheel got her diagnosis, she started a blog on CaringBridge.org — the basis for this honest, inspiring book. She describes her day-to-day encounters and experiences — the other cancer “campers” she meets at chemo; the “Itchy Day” she has with her IV port; the talks she has with her kids — and reveals her anxieties and moments of triumph.

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'100 Questions & Answers about Advanced and Metastatic Breast Cancer' by Lillie D. Shockney, R.N., and Gary R. Shapiro, M.D.

Credit: Jones & Bartlett Publishers

Shockney, a breast-cancer expert at Johns Hopkins University and a two-time breast-cancer survivor, brings her knowledge and personal insights to this immensely helpful book. It covers everything from margin decisions about surgery to finding a clinical trial to exploring alternative medicine. Key medical terms are defined throughout, making it easier for patients to understand their options.

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'NCCN Guidelines for Patients: Breast Cancer — Stage IV' by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network

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The National Comprehensive Cancer Network, an alliance of 27 top cancer centers, shorthands the latest info, treatment innovations, and resources in this 60-page guide. Available for free, it’s a crash course in metastatic cancer that will put you in a better position to communicate with your medical team.

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'A Breast Cancer Alphabet' by Madhulika Sikka

Credit: Images Courtesy of The Crown Publishing Group: Madhulika Sikka Photo Credit: Kainaz Amara

“A is for Anxiety,” “I is for Indignities,” “S is for Sex,” “Z is for ZZZ’s.” Sikka, the author of this A-Z guide, was an executive producer for NPR’s Morning Edition when she learned she had breast cancer. Her tour through Cancerland (defined under C) is chatty and practical, personal and journalistic.

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'The Red Devil: To Hell with Cancer — and Back' by Katherine Russell Rich

Credit: Image Courtesy of The Crown Publishing Group

Published in 1999, this fierce memoir is well worth seeking out. Rich, a magazine editor turned author, details her (often appalling) treatment at the hands of doctors, bosses, support groups, boyfriends — yet she remains determined to keep moving forward. And she succeeded: She passed away in 2012 after having lived with stage IV cancer for almost 20 years.

NEXT: When Breast Cancer Returns: 10 Things to Know About Metastatic Breast Cancer