Description: This small, soft covered text provides descriptions of the patient's experience of cancer treatment from initial diagnosis through the treatments of surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. It is derived from a qualitative study of 44 cancer patients that took place in England.
Purpose: This book is the second in a series of six called "Facing Death." The other texts in the series relate to palliative care. The purpose is to report a "nitty-gritty" account of cancer treatment from the patient's perspective, with emphasis on the social context of the treatment. With the ongoing development of new treatments and new treatment combinations, it is essential to be reminded of the patient's experience as different and very separate from the healthcare professional. It is easy for treatment to carry its own momentum; the authors of this text instruct us that treatment is experienced within the patient's life experience.
Audience: This book is written for healthcare professionals who provide care to patients experiencing cancer. All types of professionals will greatly benefit from the information presented here, including physicians, nurses, therapists, and social workers. Since many of the respondents received radiation therapy, practitioners in that particular field will find the book especially beneficial. I also highly recommend it to clerical people who do patient scheduling and coordination of tests; it will provide insight into patients' needs and anxieties as they seek the care that is needed.
Features: This is a description of the experience of being treated for cancer from the patient's perspective. It is the result of a qualitative study 44 cancer patients. The premise set forth is that treatment is a social experience for the patient and family and, as such, is constructed around the concept of calendars. The life of each patient evolves within three types of calendars; a personal calendar, a diagnosis and early illness calendar, and a treatment calendar. Each chapter defines the calendar and presents the work required within each calendar. The ability to "navigate" the multiple calendars relates to and impacts the patient's quality of life. The text is without graphs or illustrations. Specific exemplar representations of the experience are framed within boxes within each chapter.
Assessment: This unique, creative conceptualization of the experience of cancer treatment is a definite contribution to the field of oncology. The concept of calendars in relation to quality of life of cancer patients is both innovative and reality based. Clinically, treatment is indeed arranged around calendars. This work formalizes that structure. The idea of how calendars impact quality of life is an important contribution to understanding the experience of the patient. Although all the examples are based within the healthcare system in England, which is different from the U.S. system, components of each patient's experience and the work required within each calendar phase are relevant. I highly recommend this to all in the field of oncology. The knowledge gained from reading this text will have direct applicability to the clinical arena and improve the care provided.