New Patient Reading List

Posted By
6/17/2012 7:54pm
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Replies: 8

I'm not talking about studies -- that's another topic and then some.  I mean articles, online or print, that should be in the Welcome Basket for any new OM patient.  What must-reads have you found?  I'll start us off:


CURE Today article on super survivors, that is, "terminal" patients who are re-writing the odds.  Does not discuss OM, but useful anyway:


The Median Isn't the Message, the smartest, most thoughtful essay ever on statistics. A must for anyone Googling their disease.  Should be a laminated handout in every oncologist's office:


Postcards From Beyond the Zero, another great one from's Statistics section.  Actually, the whole Statistics section is a must-read:

Keep Rowing!

Yeah, the Median Isn't the Message link doesn't work because I missed the last letter when cuttin' - n-pastin'.  Here it is:




Keep Rowing!

RobC - (6/18/2012 - 10:10am)

Thanks for these too Tom - will check them out


I read a LOT in the beginning, but only a few titles stick out.  It was a mistake to pluck Bernie Siegel's Love, Medicine & Miracles off the shelf when I did.  While I like some of what Bernie writes, his core idea, that patients can significantly affect the course of their disease with the right mental approach, or worse, that we had a role in developing our own cancer, is just about the last thing a new patient needs to read.  His theories, similar to those of O. Carl Simonton, sound great, but can also lead to unwarranted patient guilt, which helps no one.  Siegel and Simonton have also both walked back their claims in light of more recent clinical evidence.  So would I recommend their work?  If you're looking to add another view to a broader perspective on cancer, then sure, no harm;  if you're in those early desperate days or weeks post-diagnosis, then no, you will not find much comfort, so what's the point?

Instead, go get The Human Side of Cancer: Living with Hope, Coping with Uncertainty, by Jimmie Holland, who founded the psychiatric oncology service at Memorial Sloan Kettering, and is a pioneer in the field.  I haven't met Dr. Holland, but those who have say she is just as awesome as her book.

For those looking for a bit more specific techniques, Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman is quite practical, and quite appropriate for the cancer survivor.  To dive a bit deeper, I like some of Eckart Tolle's work.  Listening to his Power of Now as an audiobook was alternately enlightening and sleep-inducing, so it can serve two purposes when used judiciously.  Tolle echoes some of the tenets of mindfulness, which, at least to an amateur like me, is in the same family tree as Zen Buddhism.  How deep you wish to dive into that end of the pool is a matter of choice, and the level of prescription SSRI's in your system at any one time.  I've found both useful.

Cookbooks can be great, since food gives you at least one hand on the wheel when your ship seems to be stuck in the vortex of doom.  My go-to source has been The New American Plate Cookbook by the American Institute for Cancer Research.  My copy is so worn, the spine is braced with packing tape.  AICR also has a nifty newsletter, and you can sign up for regular email recipes -- all good stuff.  The Cancer Lifeline Cookbook by Kimberly Mathai is very much a worthy addition to AICR, especially for patients working thought treatment side effects.  Plus, there isn't much overlap between the two books.

Following new recipes and tracking down ingredients is a welcome diversion, and making something to actually put inside your body is super way for lay people to self-medicate without the risk of accidental toxicity.  Granted, I can not endorse weaving through traffic, white-knuckled and crazed, screaming "Get our of my way you #$@&!, I have to find organic MINT!"  However, few oncologists could argue that trading an obsession with your untimely demise for an obsession for eating well is actually a bad thing.  Just don't become the food Nazi who slaps Doritos from strangers' hands.



Keep Rowing!

If you want to learn about coping from clinical psychologists who have had ample experience with helping cancer patients, this is your book:

Oxford Guide to CBT for People with Cancer (Oxford Guides to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) - 2012
by Stirling Moorey and Steven Greer

Note that it is a bit scholarly as it was meant for their colleagues, but still a gem of a book, even if you get half of its content.

This is totally science-based and results-proven knowledge and teaches that we can are perfectly capable to train our minds for this unusual situation.

RobC - (6/20/2012 - 5:56pm)

thanks for the reading list Tom, i have ordered from a well-known online bookstore and look forward to getting into this stuff, esp the Learned Optimism - instinctively I feel this could be very helpful. Will report back!

Best, Rob

Thanks for posting. The curetoday article is very inspiring.

eyecancerny - (6/23/2012 - 8:18am)

Thanks for the list.  Will definitely look into some of them.  I also like Anti-Cancer, by David Servan Schrieber



Anne Marie

Yeah, Anti-Cancer was good.  I listened to it as an aufio book while in islolation post-plaque, then went out and got the hardback to pick up all that I forgot.  I also listened to Tolle's "Power of Now," as read by the author, which made it a great non-prescription sedative.  I do like Tolle's stuff, but as an orator?   Damn, dude...


Keep Rowing!