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Cancer affects not only the patient, but all their loved ones as well.
This book will guide professionals on issues critical to effectively and compassionately counseling caregivers and other family members, from dealing with their feelings of grief and despair and realistically fostering hope, to helping them provide emotional and practical support to the patient during the illness and treatment.
Introduction: Cancer Is a Family Illness 1
Part I A General Psychotherapy Approach
Chapter 1 The Experiential World of the Family Member: Where psychotherapy Begins 9
Chapter 2 Putting Traditional Approaches Aside 29
Chapter 3 Principles of Psychotherapy with Family Members 40
Chapter 4 Toxic Myths 51
Chapter 5 The Power of Expectation 64
Chapter 6 Dealing With Feelings 75
Chapter 7 Ethical and Spiritual Aspects of the Work 98
Part II Helping the Family Caregiver Help the Patient
Chapter 8 The Experiential World of the Person With Cancer 123
Chapter 9 Choosing Practitioners and Treatments, and Communicating With Doctors 137
Chapter 10 How Family Caregivers Can Best Help the Cancer Patient 156
Chapter 11 Children in the Family: Guidelines for Parents 176
Chapter 12 Dealing With Recurrence 192
Chapter 13 When the Patient Is Dying 198
Chapter 14 How Family Caregivers Can Best Help Themselves 216
Chapter 15 Afterward 221
Epilogue: Preventing Burnout and Discovering Unexpected Gifts 227
Appendix 1 Some Basic Facts about Cancer 235
Appendix 2 Some Basic Facts about Cancer Treatment 240
Appendix 3 Psychological Side Effects of Treatments 258
Appendix 4 Some Techniques for Managing Stress 263
Appendix 5 Complementary Treatments That Can Ease Pain 269
Appendix 6 Some Legal and Practical Preparations When the Patient Is Dying 271
Posted November 25, 2009
As a physician whose practice is dedicated to supporting people with cancer, I found Ruth Cohn Bolletino's "How to Talk with Family and Caregivers About Cancer" an absolutely indispensible guide. Cancer affects not only the patient, but caregivers, friends and relatives of all ages. Each person suffers in his or her own way, and must be addressed individually.
Dr. Bolletino's therapeutic strategies flow from her immense experience and her equally immense compassion. She sees her work as psychotherapy, but it's an unusual psychotherapy, for nothing is "wrong" with the people she counsels. If your loved one has cancer and you're consequently depressed or anxious or angry, you're normal. Thus her psychotherapeutic approach starts with a view toward acceptance rather than pathology. I sorely wish I'd had access to Dr. Bolletino's views when I studied psychiatry in medical school forty years ago.
Many books in this field are written by academics, so opaquely that they confirm Mark Twain's observation that "the professions are a conspiracy against the public." Dr. Bolletino, on the other hand, intends accessibility. She writes simply and clearly, even about complexities. Her book will find a welcome place in our local cancer center library.
Jeff Kane, MD
Author, "How to Heal" (Helios Press, 2003)