October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and we have 15 amazing books about surviving and thriving after breast cancer. There are no easy answers when it comes to the disease, but these books may help you understand it and assist in coping with a diagnosis for yourself, or a friend or family member.
Cancer is a Bitch: Or, I’d Rather Be Having a Midlife Crisis
Gail Konop Baker
Gail Konop Baker’s cancer diagnosis came in her mid-40s, when she should have been contemplating things such as a midlife crisis. Instead, breast cancer becomes her midlife crisis. As she’s taken through a whirlwind of appointments (and left wondering if she’s being treated differently because she’s a doctor’s wife), Baker must grapple with what her diagnosis means for herself and her family. It’s a contemplative but funny account of one woman’s battle with breast cancer. .
Eating Pomegranates: A Memoir of Mothers,
Daughters, and the BRCA Gene
If someone in your immediate family has been diagnosed with breast cancer, you’ve probably heard of the BRCA gene. This is the mutated gene that is passed on from mother to daughter that can cause breast and ovarian cancer. Many women who discover they have the gene have preemptive mastectomies in order to prevent the development of cancer. Sarah Gabriel had her ovaries removed to prevent the BRCA gene from rearing its ugly head, but developed breast cancer instead. She’s honest about her struggles as she contemplates how her diagnosis will affect herself and her family.
The Department of Lost & Found
Allison Winn Scotch
Yes, we know we said this was a memoir roundup, but Allison Winn Scotch’s debut novel is just too good to pass up. When 30-year-old Natalie Miller is diagnosed with breast cancer, everything falls apart. Her boyfriend can’t handle her diagnosis and breaks up with her. She’s instructed to stay home from her job which, up until now, has made up most of her life. As Natalie gets used to chemo and becomes addicted to daytime television, she finds out things about herself she never knew she was missing.
My One-Night Stand With Cancer
It’s easy to forget that breast cancer can affect women of all ages, not just older women. Tania Katan was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was just 20 years old, and by the age of 30, she was battling the disease once again. Tania takes the reader through her support system, both family and friends, as she gives the reader a completely honest and absolutely hilarious account of her breast cancer fight.
The Foremost Good Fortune
Being diagnosed with breast cancer is earth-shattering enough. But receiving your diagnosis after your husband uprooted your family from your comfortable home in Maine to Beijing? That’s what happened to Susan Conley. Not only was she trying to manage a new household, learn Mandarin, and make sure her two young children were adjusting to a brand new way of life, but she had to do it in between chemo treatments. It’s an amazing story, full of culture, wit, and some deep introspection.
The Middle Place
Kelly Corrigan’s memoir tells a unique breast cancer story, as she was diagnosed just before her own father is diagnosed with late-stage cancer, too. Corrigan always considered herself to be in “the middle place” between a self-sufficient adult and a dependent daughter, but the battle with cancer she shares with her father changes her place in life and forces her out of her comfort zone and into the caretaker role.
The Victoria’s Secret Catalog Never Stops Coming: And Other Lessons I Learned from Breast Cancer
At only 36, Jennie Nash was well below the AMA-recommended age for mammograms, but a hunch led her to get tested anyways. After discovering that she did indeed have breast cancer, Nash goes through an interesting journey where the small things, such as her kid’s birthday and wearing a sexy red dress, are emphasized and the every day details are discussed. This breast cancer story will make anyone appreciate and celebrate life.
Nordie’s at Noon: The Personal Stories of Four Women “Too Young” for Breast Cancer
Patti Balwanz, Kim Carlos, Jennifer Johnson, Jana Peters
Another reminder that breast cancer knows no age limits, this memoir tells the breast cancer stories of four women all under the age of 30. Documenting their stories during their monthly Nordstrom Cafe dates, they wish to use their personal experiences with courage and strength as a source of inspiration for other women out there. Despite some sad endings, this book still provides hope and uplifting humor, as well as some education on how to be pro-active even at a young age.
Cancer Made Me a Shallower Person: A Memoir in Comics
If you’re looking for a breast cancer story that is as honest and irreverent as it gets, this graphic memoir is for you. Engelberg, a cartoonist, documents her trail through diagnosis, surgery, chemo, support groups, second diagnosis, all the way down to the compliments she received on her post-chemo wig. The smallest details of how she learned to cope with this difficult disease are presented in a hilarious, absurd way using black humor and honest depictions of a true breast cancer story.
Stealing Second Base: A Breast Cancer Survivor’s Experience and Breast Cancer Expert’s Story
Lillie D. Shockney
Lillie Shockney has experience with breast cancer from many perspectives. First an oncology nurse, Administrative Director of the John Hopkins Avon Foundation Breast Cancer, and member of the surgical faculty, then a breast cancer patient, survivor, advocate, and nationally recognized expert. Shockney’s expertise combined with her own personal experience make this memoir the perfect read for someone looking for helpful information and advice, but also entertaining and humorous emotional support.
Killer Boobs: A Memoir of How My Breasts Tried to Kill Me
In a rather quick and unexpected series of events, Amy Valentine, a mother of two, was diagnosed with Stage-3, triple-positive, bilateral breast cancer. She would then go through a double mastectomy, reconstruction, chemotherapy, and radiation. Valentine’s aggressive cancer had her so afraid, she would not even touch her own breasts in the shower. However, she never lost hope, and never lost her distinctive, deadpan sense of humor that carried her through these tough times. This breast cancer story also delves into how loved ones of the patient often respond and grow in the process.
Let Me Get This Off My Chest: A Breast Cancer Survivor Over-Shares
A two-time survivor, Lesh covers every aspect of breast cancer, providing practical tips like when to go to the hospital, to more honest pieces of advice like when to play the cancer card. Having experienced it all, Lesh brings a bright outlook to the details that are often overlooked like “Frankenboobs” and bras with special attachments. This book is an important read for anyone battling breast cancer themselves, or for a loved one needing some inside perspective and understanding.
Uplift: Secrets from the Sisterhood of Breast Cancer Survivors
No medical terms or technical matters here, Uplift gives advice strictly from the people that know breast cancer the best, the survivors. Answering the questions that doctors can’t, this memoir is a compilation of breast cancer stories from everyday women that are reassuring, honest, and real. This unique memoir also contains quotes from men, husbands and family members that can offer helpful advice to the men in your life. This book is basically a portable support group for anyone affected by breast cancer.
Breast Left Unsaid: A True and Uncensored Story of Survival
Jude Callirgos bravely tells the tale of the absolute hardest year and a half of her life in this humbling memoir. In the middle of a heartbreaking divorce, right after her best friend passed away, while both her parents are seriously ill, Callirgos is given another terrible piece of information to swallow– she has breast cancer. At a time when hope was extraordinarily low, she was able to pull herself through the most difficult journey, encountering various special people along the way that would make it all bearable.
Marisa Acocella Marchetto
Perhaps the coolest of breast cancer stories, this award-winning graphic novel answers the question “What happens when a shoe-crazy, lipstick-obsessed, wine-swilling, pasta-slurping, fashion-fanatic, about-to-get-married big-city girl cartoonist with a fabulous life finds . . . a lump in her breast?” Diagnosed just three weeks before her wedding, Marchetto documents her tumultuous battle with breast cancer in cartoon-form, and with another unique twist. While most memoirs are rather relatable, this one comes from a fashionable, fabulous member of Page Six’s elite, providing an entertaining perspective on the same not-so-glamorous struggles every cancer patient faces.