19 January 2012

book review

When Cancer Hits by Britta Aragon

Published by Cinco Vidas Press, New York 2011
ISBN 978-0-9829175-0-3

How does one begin a review of a book with a title that pulls no punches, the peaceful blue of the cover disrupted by the words "WHEN CANCER HITS" in bold red print? I was a little reluctant to open the large paperback volume.

The subtitle is kinder, "your Complete Guide to taking Care of YOU Through Treatment". In smaller print I was pleased to read "Alleviate side effects* protect from common carcinogens * manage stress & worry * prioritize self-care * prevent recurrence".

When I finally dipped into the book, handling the quality paper and admiring the layout, I liked the feel of it. Almost reluctantly, as though the subject were too risky to handle, I began to read.

Britta Aragon writes with a disarming honesty and charm, and I was pulled immediately in to her story. A cancer survivor, and then a carer for a family member with a different cancer story, Britta is well placed to observe and to advise.

The contents of the book don't disappoint. It is a warmly written, practical guide to coping with cancer. There are valuable snippets of advice on everything from lip balms to coping with chemotherapy changes. The writer's personality comes through, supporting the patient sympathetically with her well researched and good humoured advice. It is clear that she is speaking both from experience and from the heart.

Alongside tips for patient comfort are many words of caution about the products we use today. The author supports her claims with research which is in itself interesting for the cancer-free reader who is seeking to make life-style changes.

I have read the book right through, but still like to dip into it. There is so much information there that I can't remember it all. It is a book I will refer to again and again, simply to choose healthier options for myself. Prevention, after all, is easier than cure. It is most certainly a book I would gift to anyone who has cancer, but would recommend for general reference as well.

But the title? For me, it is too hard-hitting. But then, I guess, so is cancer.

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