Ordinary Miracles: Learning from Breast Cancer Survivors

Ordinary Miracles: Learning from Breast Cancer Survivors

by S. David Nathanson
     
 

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After nearly three decades of providing medical care for women and men facing breast cancer, surgeon S. David Nathanson calls the survival rates today an ordinary miracle. Ordinary because the vast majority of patients now do live at least 20 years after diagnosis due to enormous progress that has been made in medicine; and a miracle too because of the intangible

Overview

After nearly three decades of providing medical care for women and men facing breast cancer, surgeon S. David Nathanson calls the survival rates today an ordinary miracle. Ordinary because the vast majority of patients now do live at least 20 years after diagnosis due to enormous progress that has been made in medicine; and a miracle too because of the intangible qualities such as faith and hope that seem key to success in battling the disease. In this book, survivors describe their experiences, emotions, and means to overcome the disease.

S. David Nathanson is an esteemed, longtime surgeon who calls the survival rates today for women and men facing breast cancer nothing short of an ordinary miracle. Ordinary because the vast majority of patients live at least two decades after diagnosis, due to great advances that have been made in early detection, surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. But also a miracle because we know that key elements for a woman or man succeeding in a personal battle against breast cancer include completely intangible qualities of courage, fortitude, trust, persistence, faith, and hope. Although science cannot completely explain it, a supportive network of family and friends with those qualities also empower patient survival and recovery. In these pages, Nathanson shares stories from his patients, teaching us about the experience of breast cancer and explaining how they found and fueled the will and power to defeat the disease.

Even surgeon Nathanson himself cannot fully describe what goes through the hearts and minds of breast cancer patients as they discover, deal with, and finally triumph over the diagnosis. So in this book he acts as a narrator, letting his ordinary yet miraculous cancer survivors tell their stories, certainly filled with fear of the known and unknown, and with pain, but opening up to courage, love, sometimes humor, and finally hope. It is hope that firms up their resilience; hope that initiates their fortitude. Hope is an important component of healing, says the surgeon. Seventy-one survivors, including one man, tell their stories to ilustrate every step of the experience.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

According to the American Cancer Society, one in eight women will have invasive breast cancer, but many will live at least 20 years after their diagnoses. Surgical breast oncologist Nathanson here celebrates that survival rate with 71 stories of breast cancer patients who beat the disease. These narratives describe the shock of diagnosis and the physical toll of treatment as well as the support of family and friends and spirituality. Some are written as the breast cancer cycle-detection, diagnosis, surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation-with the patients' words interwoven with Nathanson's empathetic commentary. Six chapters are case studies of six different patients, including one man. Readers will also find coverage of the negative aspects of breast cancer, e.g., difficult interactions with healthcare professionals and the struggle to maintain one's everyday life while undergoing treatment. Encouraging readers not to see breast cancer as a death sentence, this book will comfort those diagnosed with breast cancer and their families and friends. Recommended for consumer health and public libraries.
—Rebecca Raszewski

From the Publisher
"According to the American Cancer Society, one in eight women will have invasive breast cancer, but many will live at least 20 years after their diagnoses. Surgical breast oncologist Nathanson here celebrates that survival rate with 71 stories of breast cancer patients who beat the disease. These narratives describe the shock of diagnosis and the physical toll of treatment as well as the support of family and friends and spirituality. Some are written as the breast cancer cycle-detection, diagnosis, surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation-with the patients' words interwoven with Nathanson's empathetic commentary. Six chapters are case studies of six different patients, including one man. Readers will also find coverage of the negative aspects of breast cancer, e.g., difficult interactions with healthcare professionals and the struggle to maintain one's everyday life while undergoing treatment. Encouraging readers not to see breast cancer as a death sentence, this book will comfort those diagnosed with breast cancer and their families and friends. Recommended for consumer health and public libraries." - Library Journal

"Nathanson uses the narratives of male and female breast cancer survivors to help practitioners understand the qualitative end of their patients' experiences. He steps through the various phases we now associate with the cycle of care for breast cancer, including detection, diagnosis, surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and, hopefully, the long road ahead after treatment. He also uses a number of case studies in which survivors recount their physical experiences and the means by which they gathered courage, strength, and a sense of self-healing, whether found in crisis and maintenance spirituality, the support of family and friends, or in alternate means such as positive self-feedback. The narratives are overwhelmingly in support of trust in the medical system, and the patients are keenly aware they will be survivors for the rest of their lives." - SciTech Book News

"As I began this read I immediately knew this book would show the courage and fortitude of numerous women and men who looked death in the face, in the form of breast cancer, and won the battle….Doctor Nathanson, a surgeon who treats these women medically, saw the potential to help others as he often saw the miraculous happen as many of his patients rose up and triumphed over this enemy. Their stories, told in their words, reveal their fears, victories, defeats and hopes for the future. To me, it was an emotional read, one that caused me to stop and the be thankful I am not fighting this battle and one that will certainly strengthen those who are and give them the courage to press on. Very well written, thought provoking and tender read from the hearts of those in the know." - MBR Bookwatch

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781567207293
Publisher:
ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
Publication date:
04/30/2007
Series:
The Praeger Series on Contemporary Health and Living
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
320 KB

What People are saying about this

Brother David Steindl-Rast
"Wisdom with compassion is what breast cancer patients need most. Dr. David Nathanson excels in both. His wisdom, rooted in professional expertise, blossomed into a compassionate willingness to listen, and bore fruit in the book you hold in your hands. It invites you into a supportive circle of friends, women who have experienced concerns like yours and are sharing their stories to give you confidence."
Donald L. Morton MD
"As a surgical oncologist, I strongly recommend this book not only to my patients and their families, but also to my colleagues. Dr. Nathanson deserves the highest praise for reminding us that the best approach to cancer is a team effort, guided by cancer specialists, but led by the patient."
Mary Goldenson
"Ordinary Miracles are heart moving stories about how women and men with breast cancer were given the opportunity to feel their mortality and LIVE."
Lisa Newman MD
"Dr. Nathanson has compiled an extremely moving and powerful body of work regarding the experiences of breast cancer patients. His book will leave readers inspired, informed, and empowered. It will be valuable for breast cancer patients, as well as for their families and physicians."
Monica Morrow
"This book provides valuable information about the breast cancer experience from the patient perspective. It is a unique resource and helps the physician consider how he or she is meeting both the medical and emotional needs of the breast cancer patient."
Francis G. Lu MD
"Packed with heart-felt stories of women coping with breast cancer, Ordinary Miracles empathetically guides patients, families, and healthcare professionals alike through the medical, emotional, interpersonal, and spiritual landscape of this illness experience. Their voices are given meaning through the sharing of these stories that evoke courage, resilience, and finally hope. Patients will benefit from knowing that they are not alone in their journey. Healthcare professionals and trainees will all benefit from Dr. David Nathanson's compassionate recounting of his patients' stories so we can better care for our own patients."
Sally Cole-Saul
"All the patients who read this book will know that they are not alone; others have taken the same journey and are alive to tell their stories. There are no words to express the impact this book will have on other cancer patients and their families. This book, in itself, is an ordinary miracle. Thank You!!!"
Nancy M. Schlichting
"I am very proud of how this special book reflects on the commitment of our healthcare team to each patient as a whole person (mind, body and spirit), providing whatever is necessary with a can do attitude and relating to patients and their families from their hearts with great compassion and caring."
Sonya Eva Singletary MD
"Learning you have breast cancer can seem overwhelming. The stories of the women in this unique and thoughtful book show that breast cancer affects women in different ways. Many say having someone to share their experiences with greatly improves their ability to make treatment decisions, and their chances of recovery. As people read each of these women's stories, perhaps they will be inspired to continue their conversations about living with breast cancer with people they love."
Terry Mamounas
"Through individual stories of courage and determination, the intricate details and complex aspects of the breast cancer journey come to light, sometimes through sorrow, at other times through wit, but always with boldness and clarity, and always with the common underlying theme of quest for life, love, happiness, and a sense of normalcy in times of adversity. An insightful testimony that will serve as a powerful tool for people who face this disease and for those who are intimately involved in its treatment."

Meet the Author

S. David Nathanson, M.D., is a Breast Surgical Oncologist and current Director of Breast Care Services in the Department of Surgery at Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, Michigan. He is the author of some 200 journal articles and book chapters.

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