Category Archives: Books

'Getting over' cancer isn't easy

Friends who say “you are lucky”

risk a bashing from survivors


When my mother had cancer in the 60s, she spent weeks being cossetted in hospital…..

But left without a single pill or drug to take.

She lived for another 50 years, and had few after-effects.

Contrast her life after cancer with that of today’s cancer patient

Who often feels neglected, abandoned or just not listened to by doctors who are too busy to listen to our concerns – they are getting on with treating the next patient

  • Our generation will – on average live a lot longer
  • But we have to live with depression and after effects of all the drugs, chemo and radiotherapy that bombard our bodies.
  • Yes, most of us are happy that these aides are there to help up live longer.  BUT the downside is……
  • You expect to be elated, but, as a ground-breaking new book reveals, cancer survivors are often left feeling depressed, exhausted and even angry.

What type of people would benefit from The Cancer Survivor’s Companion?

More people than ever are surviving cancer. But many struggle with life after the disease, as explained in a revealing new book by psychologist DR FRANCES GOODHART and health journalist LUCY ATKINS.

“People who are getting on with their life, are managing, functioning, but are finding that when they get their head on their pillow at night then the worrying thoughts crowd back in – they find that they are just not feeling that they are back where they want to be. They are people who are really struggling psychologically and probably need one-to-one back-up.”

The authors identify some of the most common problems . . .

Depression

Low mood — or even depression — is one of the most common side-effects of cancer survival. Research has indicated that between 25 and 40 per cent of people may go through some depression after cancer.

Sometimes this feeling kicks in almost as soon as treatment ends, but it might also hit you months or even years later. There are many reasons why your mood might plummet after treatment, but the basic summary is simple: you have been through a very tough experience, physically and emotionally, and it takes time to recover.

You are not mentally ill, you are not ungrateful or a wimp, and you do not automatically require professional help (though you may find this useful). You’re just feeling sad.

Your own expectations about life after cancer also play a part. Often people who are going through cancer treatment make deals with themselves about what they’ll do if and when they get the all-clear.

‘I told myself, and my wife, that if I got through this I would put the rest of my life to good use,’ says Keith, 45, a leukaemia survivor.

‘We talked about how I’d leave my boring job in accounts. We’d set up a residential home together to provide a loving and homely atmosphere for elderly people in their twilight years.’

But the pressure ‘to make the most of life’ can — and often does — backfire. It can feel overwhelming. And this can leave you very confused, lost and low.

Then there is the huge hit your body has taken. You may be scarred and shaken up. You may have suffered enormously. You may feel overwhelmed by side-effects, such as fatigue, mobility difficulties, pain, discomfort or lymphoedema (swelling). On top of this, your general strength and fitness will probably have dimisnished.

Victorians

The Victorians had a concept of ‘convalescence’. They recognised that after a major illness it takes someone time to recover and regain their strength. But over the years — maybe because of the amazing advances in medical treatments — we’ve somehow lost this valuable idea.

My mother spent weeks in hospital after her mastectomy.  Today’s patient is chucked out of hospital one or two days post surgery, carrying disfiguiring drips, mentally bruised and battered, and told “you’ll be fine”.

The expectation these days is that you should be raring to go the moment you are discharged (or as soon as the time between follow-up appointments is lengthened). Instead of telling yourself you shouldn’t feel low, allow yourself time to feel this way.

Sadly, you can’t pack yourself off to a Victorian clinic in the Swiss Alps, but try to work out how to look after yourself while you ‘convalesce’.

There are a lot of practical ways to tackle depression and many effective ones involve simple lifestyle changes. These include eating well, getting active, even just going back to your old ‘grooming’ routines.

Anger

Mixed emotions: Rather than being relieved, many cancer survivors feel angry about why they had to suffer and the treatment they had to endure

If one more person tells me I am so lucky to have got through my cancer, I won’t be responsible for my actions,’ says Gill, 46, a breast cancer survivor. ‘Yes I’ve survived, and I’m immensely relieved about that, but to suggest I’m lucky to have had my breast removed, gone through chemo, lost my hair and had an early menopause shows how ignorant people can still be about cancer.’

Like Gill, you’ve faced your cancer and, after being given the all-clear, are where you have longed to be. So why are you still angry?

One reason is that you still feel threatened. Though cancer is no longer an immediate danger, it might still feel close by. You may be experiencing feelings of helplessness. During treatment, you and your medical team are busy doing something about the cancer.

But when you reach the end of your active treatment phase, even though it’s obviously what you have been longing for, you can end up feeling lost, even helpless.

When active treatment ends, people often begin to look backwards, trying to work out what caused their cancer. It’s common to go over and over this.

If you smoked, drank too much alcohol or did any of the numerous carcinogenic things we all do every day, then you might feel regret and guilt. You may also feel angry at yourself.  Other people’s expectations can be frustrating. Whether they assume you’ll instantly spring back into your normal life or insist on treating you like a fragile flower, it’s common to feel misunderstood.

Anger is not always bad. There are certain situations where it’s useful to get angry: it can help you respond quickly to a threat or motivate you to challenge something unfair or make sure your needs are met.  When the hospital where I was treated brushes off my concerns, I find as a journalist I can give a voice to my anger by thinking ‘laterally’, and writing to the right person to suggest ways to improve the way we are treated.

It’s perfectly reasonable, for instance, to be angry if you hear the local chemotherapy suite is closing. You might use your anger to write letters to the authorities or set up a campaign to keep it open. However uncontrolled, over-the-top or misplaced anger is difficult not just for you, but for the people around you, too.  Similarly, the new Health Bill is closing down many useful and helpful services – so we can rally round and fight closures.

The Hydrotherapy pool at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital was supposedly ‘shut for maintenance’.  This went on and on for seven months;  so those who used to use the pool got together and started writing letters;  yesterday I received a letter saying it had re-opened.  Well done, girls!

There are so many other ways to prove Patient Power works!  So don’t be afraid to tackle them.

Fatigue
Common side effect: Battling the disease physically and emotionally can leave many people exhausted

Fatigue isn’t like any tiredness you’ve had in the past. It affects you both physically and mentally. It can be overwhelming or niggling. Or it can veer between the two.

It is also the most common — not to mention the most frequently ignored — side-effect of cancer and its treatment. Fatigue is a physical and mental response to the stresses and treatments that cancer brings.  It is also a known side-effect of certain medications used in chemotherapy (it can take a surprisingly long time to get over these.)      Other causes include ongoing medication and changes in your immune system or hormone levels.

Your body is also likely to be out of condition — this can make you feel drained and lacking in energy — as, too, can disrupted sleep, which is very common among cancer survivors. Your body has taken a huge hit and needs to be built back up.

You need to learn to prioritise your tasks and to plan ahead to allow for this prioritising. Pace yourself.  Take a nap EVERY AFTERNOON.  The Victorians knew this was sensible – so did Winston Churchill.

The above includes extracts from The Cancer Survivor’s Companion by Dr Frances Goodhart and Lucy  Atkins, published by Piatkus at £14.99.  © 2011 Dr Frances Goodhart and Lucy Atkins.                                                                              To order a copy for £12.99 (including p&p) call 0843 382 0000.

 

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From Incurable to Incredible

“From Incurable to Incredible”

has been named a finalist in the Health: Cancer category of the International Book Awards!

The book features stories of  27 cancer survivors who were given a terminal diagnosis, but shocked everyone by thriving years past their prognoses.  These survivors have different cancers and circumstances, but share two things: a poor prognosis and incredible drive to overcome it.

Telling their stories are:

Doug Ulman, president and CEO of the Lance Armstrong Foundation and three-time survivor, who shares his story and how LAF helps and continues to assist cancer survivors.
Buzz Sheffield, whose faith and service has kept him healthy and active five years after he was told he had three months to live.

Dave Massey, who in 1986 and again in 1997, was given six months to live. Today, he runs marathons and speaks at cancer centers nationwide to spread his message of hope.

Paul Falk, diagnosed 23 years ago at age 9 with acute leukemia, describes how his doctors wondered if he would survive two weeks. A year later, he wowed everyone by becoming the personal guest of then Vice President George H.W. Bush.
Steve Scott, a Stage IV colon cancer survivor who was told by five doctors he was going to die. Five years later, he is cancer-free and embarking on a new exciting new life.

Cathy Wolfe, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer while pregnant with her second child. She was determined to have her baby despite overwhelming dangers and obstacles. Today she and her teenage son are living proof her determination was worth it.

Paperback versions available for purchase on this site, BarnesandNoble.com, select bookstores and medical center gift shops.
Ten percent of the author’s proceeds will go to the Lance Armstrong Foundation

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New book explains breast cancer treatment

BREAST CANCER NURSING – Care and Management


This is a text book, written for nurses, full of medical jargon – but if you are interested in what happens to you as a person with breast cancer, I can thoroughly recommend it for reference.

This is the type of book it would be helpful to have at hand, when the expert medics start discussing you as though you weren’t there;  the helpful index at the back would show you what they are talking about, and you might even be able to contribute to the discussion!

I met Victoria when I went to St. Mary’s, Paddington (where Alexander Flemming developed penincillin), and it always gives me a thrill when I walk under the blue plaque that records where he worked.  Vickki is one of those people whom you warm to immediately, and not surprisingly she has managed to gather together a very interesting and informative collection of colleagues to contribute chapters.  Each one is writing about their specialist subject, to be read by their peers, so the language can be very technical.  However, you know you are getting the truth, which can be extremely interesting when you work your way through to it!  I found several answers to things that had been puzzling me.

Anyone bewildered or unable to find answers to questions could well find the solution in this book.  I turned first to the chapter on Endocrine treatment, and it says “logical answers aren’t always the correct ones and assumptions cannot be made…”.   Hurrah – someone knows we don’t all respond in the textbook manner to those drugs.

If you have problems with side effects, the book has examples of many that are brushed aside by medics,  One is that women aged over 80 can have had hot flushes from Tamoxifen;  showing this book to sceptical medics might make them believe what we tell them.

Another chapter speaks of ‘Time spent with a patient, listening to her story is very valuable’, etc. etc.   I would dearly love to have this printed out and put it in every nurse’s locker.  Today, almost all the time we get with a nurse can be her asking what medication we are on (which they should have  gleaned from out notes – if they read them).  So we waste valuable time, which is often the only allocation we get – no time to tell staff of our fears or ask questions.

The only subject I would have liked to have had more cover is Hormone Therapy, and in particular dealing with side effects from the drugs.  Vickki works at St. Mary’s, Paddington, and I know that they have had contact with France and some of the solutions French doctors have for dealing with these – so next time I would like to see a chapter dealing with how the French treat these.

But there is so much of use to anyone who has problems – most patients would probably be like me:   looking  for the aspects that interest them, and I don’t want to know about the rest.  But what is there has been written by a team of experts, ably edited by Vickki, and this will certainly be on my desk and surely well thumbed.

Published by Wiley-Blackwell £29.99

www.wiley.com.wiley-blackwell ISBN   978-1-4051-9866-0

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Sensible Self-Help

Spare me from crystal therapy and ‘take this supplement’ advocates

But ‘self help’ can be really helpful, and the newly formed College of Medicine has set out to ‘integrate’ genuine patients with doctors, surgeons, therapists, MDTs etc. and give sensible advice about how patients can find things out for themselves.

They have set up The Integrated Self Care in Family Practice Project, which is producing a series of leaflets designed to give sensible, no-nonsense advice.  So far they have produced leaflets on Back Pain, Fatigue, Sleep Problems etc. and coming up are Headaches, Migraine, Stress, etc.

As a patient you can register and have your say about the information they are producing, and hopefully in the future have more say, as a patient, in consultations, conferences, etc.

Try the leaflets (you can read them online) and register on www.gpscl.info

Is this book on Inflammatory Breast Cancer any use? Or will it be useless?

If you are going to spend your hard-earned cash on

this book, will you like it?

Or find it useless – flippant – superficial?

Well, if you are a patient, I hope you will find helpful, useful information – with some humour, in this layman’s book on Inflammatory Breast Cancer.

And if you are one of my favourite nurses – you will have a wry smile at the way I talk, and thank heaven not all patients were like me!

This is written from a patient’s viewpoint.  So don’t be shocked by the nicknames I gave some of my medics.  Or the fact that I litter the book with names of commercial companies that made clinically-trialled products that helped me.  Delicate souls will be horrified by the use of company names, but doctors and nurses have no hesitation on giving out names of drugs, and those are made by companies who measure their profits in BILLIONS – not ordinary millions.  So why shouldn’t we be given names of products that can help with the awful side effects of these drugs?

If you are a doctor, and treated as a Higher Being,  I might not give you due deference you expect  – especially if you were ‘Dr. 30-second’ or ‘Pompous Professor’.

And if you like to blind us with science, you won’t like the 17 page Glossary.   I have just been reading a book ‘designed for patients’ which thinks it can get by with an eleven- yes, 11 – word Glossary.

If you are a nurse, this is NOT a medical text-book.  You will scream at the way I re-name medical procedures, and question the way You are taught to treat us.  And ask why a Multi-disciplanary Team NEVER includes the most important member: the patient.

Cancer is a frightening condition;  Inflammatory Breast Cancer more so than many.  So you must excuse us if we get stroppy, and use black humour to keep us going.

You and the Team are there to give us the facts – I tried to remember what I was feeling at the time – and the sometimes silly things that were bothering me, when I should have reacted differently according to text-books and nurses’ training.  But then we are human, so sometimes don’t behave the way we are told to.

And TLC is sometimes totally forgotten in medical training – but we respond to this far better than being told  “YOU are only a patient”.

I have NO medical training, but justify writing this book because I can call myself an ‘Expert Patient’.

Has this been endorsed by a British Hospital? Whew!  After comments about some hospital treatment I received, and after the things I have said about superior treatment in European hospitals –  not B  likely!

But if you like Christine Clifford Beckwith’s black humour and her take on situations cancer patients find themselves in (well, you’ve got to laugh or else you would cry), then I hope you will like this book.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Inflammatory-Breast-Cancer-Explanation-Support/dp/184829039X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1283185964&sr=1-1

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The BNF tells you about drugs you are prescribed

The dictionary that lists major medicines – and their possible effects

.

Anyone visiting their doctor in Britain will notice that, after they have discussed your symptoms, they will tell you they are going to prescribe something – then they will often reach for a thick book that’s always lying on their desk.

This is the British National Formulary – or BNF for short.

The BNF is a joint publication of the British Medical Association and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain. It is published biannually under the authority of a Joint Formulary Committee which comprises representatives of the two professional bodies and of the UK Health Departments.  Various official medical bodies also advise on content.  And the doctor is looking up possible side effects, and contra-indications.

The NHS supplies this volume to its staff, but if you are a patient you can buy a copy direct from the publishers.  When it arrives, it may look daunting, but  go to pages x – xv first.  These tell you how to use this book – and are well worth reading first, to give you some idea of how to find what you need to know.

Then off you go – with a warning!  This book is addictive!  Once you have found your way around, you will keep on finding excuses to consult it and its incredible amount of useful information.

The the BNF aims to provide prescribers, pharmacists and other healthcare professionals with sound up-to-date information about the use of medicines.  After dipping into the BNF, I wish that I had had a copy when I started out with cancer;  then I wouldn’t have had nasty surprises with side effects, but would have been told of these, in sensible, non-sensational language.  There, under Tamoxifen, are listed the side effects I had, which my oncologists told me they had never seen these before, or were due to my age.

I would have waved the BNF at them – and asked if they hadn’t known of side effects, why hadn’t they read up what was written there?

The BNF includes key information on the selection, prescribing, dispensing and administration of medicines. Medicines generally prescribed in the UK are covered and those considered less suitable for prescribing are clearly identified. Little or no information is included on medicines promoted for purchase by the public.  So if it’s not mentioned, and hasn’t been prescribed by your doctor, prescribing nurse, consultant or other qualified medical practictioner – be very, very careful.

It’s not for everyone – if you have confidence in your medical team they will consult this book, and then read out anything they think you need to know.  But if you are worried – then this book, hopefully, will set your mind at rest, or at least give you enough facts to keep you informed.

The price of the printed BNF is £29.99 (see www.pharmpress.com/bnf for more details). However, it can be accessed online, free of charge to UK residents, at www.bnf.org

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Breast Beating – a new type of book on breast cancer

Hurrah for a change from the usual ‘type’ of cancer books

Not many people  can advocate a new treatment – then years later, after reviewing evidence – change their mind.

This takes courage, and Michael Baum has it in spades.  He showed this when he dared to challenge Prince Charles, and stood up to the scorn poured on him by the world’s alternative medicine practictioners.

In his fascinating and inspiring book, Breast Beating, he tells the story behind the hype.  And, as he says, it is “A personal odyssey in the quest for an understanding of breast cancer, the meaning of life and other easy questions”.  Just a simple book then.

Er, actually no.  He takes you behind the scenes into the fascinating world of cutting edge medicine, in his quest to give his patients a better quality of life.  Questioning, talking and observing, Michael never stops in his desire to do the best for his patients, and advance our knowledge of breast cancer.  He sometimes comes up with theories, which he admits are challenging,  but is open about what he is hoping to achieve, and never too humble to learn from others – even non-medics.

He pokes fun himself when describing the ‘Golden Finger’ award.  Originally this was a joke presentation to him from his students at the end of a course.  With Michael around, you had to be careful, and he had the bright idea of gilding the plaster hand with its outstretched finger (classic rectal examination pose), mounting it on a plaque, and presenting this for a student competition.  This grew, became more important, and one day when he had moved on he was surprised to see a student’s CV listed  The Golden Finger Award.

Sometimes he mixed in more exalted circles, and describes how Diana, Princess of Wales visited one of his wards to find a patient had just returned from an operation. “HRH stretched forward to hold the old dear’s gnarled hand at which the old dear woke with a start and without missing a beat smiled from ear to ear and said “Allo Lady Di watchyer adoing ‘ere then?'”

There is lots more, especially on his work on the ATAC trials (Arimidex, Tamoxifen Alone or Combined).  Although I wasn’t his patient, I happened to mention that I had had very strong and horrid side effects from both these drugs – whereupon he spent hours sending off emails to see if he could help me.  But that is typical of him.  He was instrumental in developing Art Therapy, and movingly describes its effect on both his patients and himself – I am told that he used his own money to get the first programme up and running, so not only his patients, but many across the world have benefited.

Laughter can be a powerful medicine, and Michael gives us this in buckets.  On returning from the launch of Breast Beating, I thought I would just dip into the book.  3 am came,  I decided I really should go to bed;  what medical book does that normally?  But I was laughing out loud at his quirky observations, and feeling so much better as a patient (although sadly not one of Michael’s).

So enjoy reading a bit of history, a part-medical textbook and a description of Michael Baum’s theories about life.

Published by Anshan Publishing ISBN 978-1848290426 £30.

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"Nothing Personal" gives you ammunition to fight for better cancer care

Nothing Personal shows up NHS treatment

Nothing Personal shows up NHS treatment

NOTHING PERSONAL

is a ‘how I suffered’ type of book.  So why am I singing its praises?

Author Mitzi Blennerhassett recounts her problems as a cancer patient in a matter-of-fact way.  We can all relate to her experiences, and think, “she had this as well – so why am I being told no-one else does?”

But when she was told this, she went on to do something about changing the NHS and medical culture; much to our benefit.

This should give us courage to face up to uncaring oncologists and nurses with too much to do, and no time to think if what they are saying is insensitive.  Or to care about our pain.  We all have days when we have to grit our teeth to bite back an angry retort, because a medical professional has not thought what they are telling us is going to impact on our lives – and the consequences.

I would love to give this book to the nurse who told a fellow patient “you are ONLY a patient here” when she had, as an eminent scientist, questioned her treatment.  The patient turned out to be right, and it is time the medical profession in the UK realised that if we have cancer we HAVE to become clued up with medical knowledge, otherwise we get into trouble.  I wish I had realised this years ago, and given the anaesthetist who assisted at my lumpectomy a lecture about what polio patients need, before suffering two months of ill-health she caused,  after what should have been a simple operation

My next operation saw a much bolder patient emerge, and full marks to Mario Petrou, the brilliant surgeon at the Royal Brompton.  He listened to my concerns, and together with his anaesthetist, Dr. Hunter, devised a plan for my seven-hour operation.  Result – NO problems and I felt ‘almost’ on top of the world afterwards.  So this book might encourage more of us to question and comment – to our advantage.

Mitzi comments on the fatuous statement “how are you feeling today”.  Next time I shall be honest and say “b – awful, otherwise I wouldn’t be here to see you.”  And if anyone dares to ask me again, when I have told them I am in pain,  “on a scale of 1 – 10, how do you feel?”  the reply will be shouted  LOOK AT MY NOTES.  I have had polio.  It is known to be one of the most painful diseases on the planet.  If a polio patient says they are in pain, believe me, WE ARE.

So in a funny way this book will cheer you up.  Mitzi  comments on the appalling lack of hygiene and privacy in so many hospitals, how some doctors give information in a factual and sensible way – others fudge the issue so that the patient ends up delaying treatment because they think it isn’t urgent.  As Prof. Karol Sikora says in his foreword, “This is the story of just one person but it is repeated time and time again by many”.  Well, if Mitzi’s book gives you courage to point out what is wrong and do something to improve matters for yourself, it will have done a good job.

She also comments on the appalling lack of knowledge and care in handling side effects from the drugs she was prescribed.  Next time you are told “I’ve never seen this side effect before”, DON’T take the eminent specialist’s word – if it has happened to you, you have the problem, and specialists are there to sort these out.  That’s what they are paid for. By you, with your taxes and/or privately.

So read her book;  realise you are not alone, and go out and do something about it – for your sanity and those patients who come after you.
Published by Radcliffe   ISBN 13:  978:  184619  010 £14.99 http://www.radcliffe-oxford.com

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Sensible books when you can't take another 'patient survivor' book

Cover of Trick or Treatment book
Image via Wikipedia

BOOKS AND MAGAZINES

Trick or Treatment – Simon Singh and Edzard Ernst – Bantam Press £16.99 hardback.

My e-mails are full with offers of the latest ‘cancer’ treatment, from goji berries to vitamin supplements. But please don’t send them. They generally worked for the author – but not for me. But I did think that perhaps I was too sceptical, as so many people swear by everything from coffee enemas to feng shui.

So anyone who is told “you must try this” now has TRICK OR TREATMENT, a marvellous new book that takes all the therapies, treatments and supplements we are offered, and de-bunks most of them scientifically. The book explains and tests the theory behind alternative medicines, and analyses if they work by evaluating scientific research.

Authors Simon Singh and Edzard Ernst have spent the past 15 years testing – and have written this book which was ‘music’ to me – although people peddling alternative medicines won’t be very happy. As the research in the book is evidence-based, their findings have a scientific background, and they have come to the conclusion that most of these treatments just don’t work. Some of those on which whole cancer treatments are based are discredited and described as ‘potentially harmful’.

I loved their description of Feng Shui – “based on biologically implausable concepts and there is no evidence to show that it works. A competent interior designer can probably offer equally good advice. …no evidence to show it does anything but enrich those who promote it”.

Colonic irrigation, and other treatments such as enemas, are de-bunked and dismissed, and of colonic irrigation they say it is “ineffective and dangerous”. Many so-called cancer centres are not going to like what they read – but do read it – you could save yourself a fortune in ‘airy-fairy’ medicines if nothing else.

Whilst I don’t decry alternative treatments, believing if it works for you then go for it; these are to be taken cautiously, and are not for the majority. Belief is a strange but potent force, and what works for someone because they believe in it, should not be lauded as THE cancer treatment – because as this book proves, so often they aren’t.

However, main-stream massage is explained in a simple way, and the book tells you which ones are useful, and which are just nice sounding but not proven.

TAKING CONTROL OF CANCER This is one of the most sensible books I have read, written for cancer patients.  Packed full of helpful information, it has factual, sensible and easy-to-read information about treatment options, choices, self-help and a host of other useful hints and tips.  I read it through at one sitting, and wished I had had it at the beginning of treatment.  Written by Beverley dan der Molen, who is now information officer for the Paul D’Auria Cancer Support Centre, the contents are clear, concise and written in crystal clear English, even though Beverley is a medical professional!  But she does not use jargon, instead explains what it all means.    Class Publishing  ISBN 1-85959-091-8  Contact Paul D’Auria Centre www.pauldauriacentre.org.uk

Oxford Handbook of COMPLEMENTARY MEDICINE

A clear and concise guide to this minefield, covering Aromatherapy, Yoga and just about everything in between.  There is some very interesting information on what benefits cancer patients, and a large section on herbal medicines, with clear, easy-to-read risks for each, and a sensible Conclusion covering benefits or adverse effects for everything mentioned.  Oxford Univesity Press www.oup.com

Even the Eyebrows (about to be published) by Sharon Morrison, who pulls no punches in a humorous and informative book on her cancer treatment. Not afraid to stand up to the ‘bullies’, she takes one through the problems (with sensible tips about handling this like diarrhea that comes suddenly in the street, etc), and discussing ‘cording’ – which if you get it you realise no-one tells you about this.

Traditional Herbal Medicines This is an incredibly comprehensive book covering just about every herb you have ever heard of, and hundreds you probably won’t.  Each herb is described in depth, and has two extremely useful Paragraphs:  ADVERSE EFFECTS  and PRECAUTIONS.  To be read very, very carefully, and digested.

Compiled by Dr.Lakshman Karalliedde, Dr. Indika Gawarammana and Dibbie Shaw, they say, “Traditional medicines have remained popular in many parts of the world and have been regaining ground universally because they are ‘natural’.  But go on to say that natural does not necessarily mean gentle or safe – in fact reading the book has made me very very suspicious of a lot of familiar plants.

The book covers Chinese, Afro-Caribbean, Unani and Ayurvedic traditional medicines in depth, and is a fascinating if scary read.  Hammersmith Press or from Amazon.  £19.99

In-depth articles written for healthcare professionals with info from around the world

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