This is Cancer: Everything You Need to Know, from the Waiting Room to the Bedroom

This is Cancer: Everything You Need to Know, from the Waiting Room to the Bedroom

by Laura Holmes Haddad

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781580056267
Publisher: Da Capo Press
Publication date: 10/18/2016
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 826,750
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 6.90(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Laura Holmes Haddad received her BA from Smith College, and has worked as a caterer, a cookbook editor, and a freelance writer. After a three-year battle with inflammatory breast cancer, Laura began writing about cancer and speaking about patient advocacy. When she's not writing, Laura can be found hiking, paddle boarding, reading, cooking, or on a rope swing with her kids. Laura lives in Northern California with her husband, daughter, son, and a Dalmatian.

Read an Excerpt

This is Cancer

Everything You Need to Know, from the Waiting Room to the Bedroom 


By Laura Holmes Haddad

Seal Press

Copyright © 2016 Laura Holmes Haddad
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-58005-626-7


In those first months, I talked to nurses and doctors, schedulers and survivors, but what I didn’t hear was anything particularly helpful regarding the day-to-day stuff. I wanted to hear—or to read—what was really going to happen. What will it feel like to get a needle stuck in my armpit? What will I say to my kids when they ask what happened to my hair? What could I eat? What would chemo feel like? What would radiation do to my skin? What would I look like without breasts? I love nothing more than a plan and a list and neither was in sight.

I remember so clearly sitting on an exam room table speaking to a radiation oncologist at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston—we were there getting a second opinion—and she looked at me and said: “This fucking sucks. It’s ok to cry and say it. Forget the pink warriors. You have cancer and it sucks.”

And that was what I craved—to hear someone say something honest about what was happening. I felt so alone, and so isolated, and the only thing I wanted was answers. Books had come to my aid during pregnancy, before job interviews, when I needed to learn a language; my whole life I turned to books for answers. Why not this? The best I could find during the initial steps of my road trip were somber hospital brochures titled “Coping with Cancer,” filled with photos of half-smiling patients and their caregivers drinking tea.

I needed something else, something honest and at times funny; something real and usable but also a companion, a friendly voice in your ear on a bad day; something that points out the absurdity of your “new normal;” something that addresses the grim specifics that everyone else seems to gloss over; something to flip through when you’re wondering “what to expect” from doctors, family, friends.

When I was first diagnosed with cancer, I pictured the Hollywood version of my sick self: a scarf on my head, a blanket on my lap, and an IV in my arm with one doctor and a few nurses hovering and a family that supported and cheered me up. Basically me, but bald and slightly nauseous.

It’s not like that.

It’s a team of doctors, endless nurses, endless scans and blood draws and procedures and confusion and frustration and exhaustion. And that’s just the first month.

Now I know that life will never be the same again after a cancer diagnosis. I know you will wish, hope it, pray for things to reset and go back to “normal,” but they won’t. I know now that cancer changes everything.

Oh, how I wish someone had told me that on day one. How I wish someone had given me a book that said it all, in honest/grave/mordantly funny language, and saved me a lot of time and whiplash.

I wish someone had written this book.

My family and I had to educate ourselves while fighting for my life. I didn’t have the time or energy for support groups (many of us don’t); the research my family and friends did, together with real intel, bits of advice, and vignettes from young survivors, is what This is Cancer is about.

This is everything I have to share on the subject; what I heard and liked, what got me through the appointments, the assaults on my body, and the general shittiness that is being a cancer patient. I want to help you get through this, the most surreal, infuriating journey you’ll ever be on. And honestly, I can’t stand the word journey—I prefer the term road trip. (Imagine a cross-country trip in a covered wagon, in the dead of winter, with an old mule pulling the wagon mile by excruciating mile…while cars whiz by.)

Still, this isn’t a memoir or a pink ribbon “go, fight, win” book. It’s something you can stick in your purse or bag and pull out while you’re waiting, and waiting, and waiting in the infinite number of waiting rooms that are in your future. You don’t have to read it cover to cover, or even finish the entire thing. It’s the one book you should be able to laugh with and feel relieved—relieved—to read. To feel, “me, too.” To feel heard, when no one else in the whole entire world could possibly know what it’s like to be you right now.

Now, three-plus years in and armed with more than my fair share of cancer experience and the stories of others, I have put together this book for first-timers that they desperately need, that I desperately needed.
A book that says things like:

Chemo will be like the flu times a thousand and leave a lingering chemical taste in your mouth for months.
Your children might not look at you when your hair falls out.
There is no limit to what you will put yourself through when told it might save your life.
Stay away from the Internet. And don’t let anyone tell you “what they looked up” about your diagnosis.
You’ll be surrounded by people but you’ll feel lonely, and alone, sometimes.
Lexapro is Tylenol for the soul.
You won’t be able to manage your life without an entire community helping out, and this will go on for much longer than you think.
Always question, always persevere.

Said another way, This is Cancer is a chronologically ordered primer, a “what to expect when you’re expecting” reference book for the diagnosis you don’t want but are stuck with. This is the book that you and your loved ones or support system keep in your “heading to the hospital bag,” because it tells you what’s going on and keeps you company. Let’s get started.

(Continues...)

Excerpted from This is Cancer by Laura Holmes Haddad. Copyright © 2016 Laura Holmes Haddad. Excerpted by permission of Seal Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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