email page print pageAll Topic Reviews
100 Things Guys Need to Know1001 Solution-Focused Questions101 Ways to Meditate17 Lies That Are Holding You Back29 Gifts8 Keys to Stress ManagementA Layman's Guide to Managing FearA Parent's Guide to Asperger Syndrome and High-Functioning AutismA User Guide to the GF/CF Diet for Autism, Asperger Syndrome and AD/HDADD-Friendly Ways to Organize Your LifeAddiction and ChangeAddiction Recovery ToolsADHD Grown UpAdolescent DepressionAdvanced Sexual TechniquesAfter SuicideAfter the Ecstasy, the LaundryAge-Proof Your MindAnswers for AristotleAnxiety, Phobias, and PanicAre You Fully Charged?Authentic HappinessAwakening Self-EsteemBe Honest--You're Not That Into Him EitherBeating the BluesBecoming OrgasmicBeen There, Done That? DO THIS!Better Sex Through YogaBetter Than EverBeyond AddictionBibliotherapyBinge No MoreBipolar DisorderBlinkBoomers Really Can Put Old On HoldBrain LongevityBrainstormBread Upon the WatersBreak Through PainBreathingBringing Up ParentsBuddhist Boot CampBullyBut I Love HimCalm EnergyCalm Focus JoyCan't Eat, Won't EatCancer on $5 a Day* *(chemo not included)Caring in Remembered WaysChained to the DeskChange Your AgeChange Your Brain, Change Your LifeChange Your ThinkingChildren of the Aging Self-AbsorbedChildren of the Self-AbsorbedConceptual BlockbustingConquer Your Critical Inner VoiceConquering Postpartum DepressionConquering Shame and CodependencyCoping With Difficult PeopleCoping with Infuriating, Mean, Critical PeopleCoping With TraumaCreative Writing In Health And Social CareCrossing the Unknown SeaDance the Chakras Yoga WorkoutDaydreamingDe-Stress Your Life in 7 Easy StepsDealing with a NarcissistDefying DementiaDelivered from DistractionDematerializingDepression FalloutDepression-Free for LifeDivorce PoisonDoing ItDone With The CryingDown and Dirty Sex SecretsDr. Andrew Weil's Guide to Optimum HealthDr. Weisinger's Anger Work-Out BookDying to Be ThinEasy YogaEmbarrassing Medical ProblemsEmbracing UncertaintyEmotional Chaos to ClarityEmotional ClaustrophobiaEmotional Fitness for IntimacyEmotional IntelligenceEnjoying Guilty PleasuresEssays on Philosophical CounselingEvamarie Pilipuf's Yoga Express DVDEvery Day Yoga for Every Body DVDEveryday GreensExercise for Mood and AnxietyFailureFamily Desk Reference to Psychology Family FirstFast Food for the SoulFat and FuriousFatal FlawsFear and Other Uninvited GuestsFeeding Your ChildFinding Meaning in the Second Half of LifeFlow: The Psychology of Optimal ExperienceFluid Power Vinyasa Flow YogaFlying ColorsForgive Your Parents, Heal YourselfFreaks, Geeks and Asperger SyndromeFrom Sabotage to SuccessFull Steam Ahead!Getting a Good Night's SleepGetting ControlGetting over Getting MadGetting the Love You WantGetting the Love You Want Audio CompanionGetting Your Life BackGirl StuffGirlWiseGod Never BlinksGoddess WorshipGoing DownGoing Home without Going CrazyGood MedicineGoodbye, ThingsGrieving Mental IllnessGuilt, Shame, and AnxietyHalf Empty, Half FullHe's Just Not That Into YouHeal & Forgive IIHealing ADDHealing through ExerciseHealthy AgingHonoring GriefHooking UpHot ButtonsHow Full Is Your Bucket?How I Stayed Alive When My Brain Was Trying to Kill MeHow Philosophy Can Save Your LifeHow Proust Can Change Your LifeHow Successful People ThinkHow to Change Someone You LoveHow to Give Her Absolute PleasureHow to Handle a Hard-To-Handle KidHow to Have Magnificent SexHow to Keep Your Teenager Out of Trouble and What to Do If You Can'tHow to Live Well Without Owning a CarHow to Make Great Love to a ManHow to Make Great Love to a WomanHow to Stay SaneHow to Stop Feeling Like ShitHypnography for MenHypnography for WomenI AMI am PotentialI Saw It HappenI Wasn't Ready to Say GoodbyeI'd Rather LaughI'm OK, You're My ParentsIllness and the Art of Creative Self-ExpressionIn the Mood, AgainIntroduction to Qi YogaIt's Called a Breakup Because It's BrokenIt's Not as Bad as It SeemsJudo with WordsKripalu YogaKripalu Yoga Dynamic DVDKripalu Yoga Gentle DVDKundalini Yoga MeditationKundalini Yoga to Detox and Destress DVDLearn to RelaxLearned OptimismLearning Outside the Lines Letting Go of AngerLies! Lies! Lies!Life MakeoversLife StrategiesLife's WorkLifting DepressionLiving the TruthLiving Well with Pain and IllnessLiving with AnxietyLiving Your Best LifeLiving Your DreamLost in the MirrorLove & SurvivalLove Your Body, Love Your LifeLoving Someone With Bipolar DisorderLunar Flow YogaMadhur Jaffrey's World VegetarianMake It CountMaking a Good Brain GreatMaking ADD WorkMaking Your Mind MatterManaging Your MindManic DepressionMastering Anger and AggressionMastering the Power of Self-hypnosisMaui PilatesMeditation for Optimum HealthMeditation in a New York MinuteMind MappingMind-Body Workbook for AnxietyMindfulness for BeginnersMindfulness for Urban Depression: Tools for Relief from Stressful City LivingModerate DrinkingMotherstylesMozart's Brain and the Fighter PilotNapkin NotesNatural Healing for DepressionNew Hope for People with DepressionNo Enemies WithinNo More AnxietyNot Your Mother's LifeObsessive-Compulsive Disorder DemystifiedOne Last Hug Before I GoOrgasmOrgasmsOutsmarting DepressionOutsmarting OvereatingOver 100 Truly Astonishing Sex TipsOvercoming Compulsive CheckingOvercoming Compulsive HoardingOvercoming DepressionOvercoming Obsessive ThoughtsOvercoming the Fear of FearOvercoming Your Difficult FamilyPain Free for LifePain Free for WomenParanoia of Everyday LifeParenting Children With ADHDPassionate VegetarianPlan BPlanning for UncertaintyPlato, Not Prozac!Position Of The Day PlaybookPositivityPotatoes Not ProzacPower Yoga: Fat BurnerPowerfully Recovered!PredatorsPreventing Misbehavior in ChildrenProcrastinationProcrastinationProtecting the GiftPsychology Moment by MomentQiGong IllustratedQuantum Memory PowerRaising a Self-StarterRaising Kids in an Age of TerrorRaising Resilient ChildrenReady for AnythingReal Solutions for Overcoming Internet AddictionsRecovery from AddictionRelationship RescueRespect-Me RulesRitalin is Not the Answer Action GuideRomantic IntelligenceSabbathSecrets of a Passionate MarriageSelf MattersSelf-CoachingSelf-CompassionSelf-Help NationSelf-Help Stuff That WorksSelf-Help Without the HypeSelf-NurtureSeven Life Lessons from Noah's ArkSex and SpiritSex DetoxSex PositionsSex Q & ASextasySexual PleasureSleep BetterSolar Flow Yoga DVDSoulmatesSpiritually Healing the Indigo Children (and Adult Indigos, Too!)Spontaneous HealingStanding at Water's EdgeStaying Connected to Your TeenagerStaying Sane When Your Family Comes to VisitStop Arguing with Your KidsStop Caretaking the Borderline or NarcissistStop Me Because I Can't Stop Myself Stop OverreactingStop Smoking and Chewing Tobacco for Life ChangesStop Walking on EggshellsStraight Talk about Your Child's Mental HealthStress ReliefStrong, Smart, & BoldSun SalutationsSunbathing in the RainSurviving a Borderline ParentSurviving Manic DepressionSurviving Sexual ViolenceTaking Charge of ADHD, Revised EditionTaking Charge of AngerTaking Charge of Anger: Six Steps to Asserting Yourself without Losing ControlTaming Your Inner BratTeen Angst? NaaahTen Minutes to RelaxThank You for Being Such a PainThe 10 Best Anxiety BustersThe 5 Reasons Why We OvereatThe 7 Secrets of the ProlificThe Anger WorkbookThe Antidepressant Survival ProgramThe Art of Becoming HumanThe Art of Exceptional LivingThe Beginner's Guide to Healthy EatingThe Better Sex Guide to the Kama SutraThe Betty Ford Center Book of AnswersThe Bipolar Disorder Survival GuideThe Breakout PrincipleThe Bully, the Bullied, and the BystanderThe Chronic Pain SolutionThe Complete Vegetarian HandbookThe Consolations of PhilosophyThe Core Question: Who Am I?The Crowdsourced Performance ReviewThe Emotional Eater's Repair ManualThe Emotional RevolutionThe End-of-Life HandbookThe Essential Guide to Prescription Drugs 2005The Essential KamasutraThe Feeling Good HandbookThe Five Things We Cannot Change ...The Game of TruthThe Gift of FearThe Gift of ShynessThe Good Vibrations Guide to SexThe Guide for International Intercultural Couples and Families Intercultural MarriageThe Happy Hook-UpThe Healing JourneyThe Healing Journey for CouplesThe Healing Journey Through GriefThe Healing Power of PetsThe Identity CodeThe Illustrated Guide to Extended Massive OrgasmThe Inside Story on Teen GirlsThe Introvert AdvantageThe Intuitive WriterThe Irritable Male SyndromeThe Jewel Tree of TibetThe Joy of MeditatingThe Last Self-Help Book You'll Ever NeedThe Light of DiscoveryThe Little Book of Healthy TeasThe Little Yoga BookThe Magic of Thinking BigThe Making of Dr. PhilThe Male Stress Survival GuideThe Money WorkbookThe Mood CureThe Mozart EffectThe Myth of Self-EsteemThe New Cancer SurvivorsThe New Rational TherapyThe OASIS Guide to Asperger SyndromeThe OCD WorkbookThe Passion PlanThe Pilates Workout JournalThe Pill Book Guide to Natural MedicinesThe Places That Scare YouThe Pocket Life CoachThe Porn TrapThe Power of FocusThe Power of Full EngagementThe Power of Negative ThinkingThe Power of PlayThe Power of Self-CoachingThe Pursuit of PerfectThe Quest for Peace, Love, and a 24'' WaistThe Real Rules for GirlsThe Secret of LifeThe Secret Strength of DepressionThe Self ImprovedThe Self-Compassion Skills WorkbookThe Self-Help SourcebookThe Sex Addiction WorkbookThe Spa DeckThe Stoic Art of LivingThe Stress CureThe Stress Less WorkbookThe Stress Owner's ManualThe Stress Reduction Workbook for TeensThe SuperStress SolutionThe Ten Minute Sexual SolutionThe Therapy for the SaneThe Truth About Chronic PainThe Ultimate Guide to Sex and DisabilityThe Van Gogh BluesThe Way of StretchingThe Way of the JournalThe Way of TransitionThe Weblog HandbookThe Why CaféThe Worst-Case Scenario Survival HandbookThere's a Spiritual Solution to Every ProblemThings Might Go Terribly, Horribly WrongThink Confident, Be ConfidentThink NakedThink SmartThinking for a ChangeThis Is HowTotal PilatesTrain Your Brain to Get HappyTrain Your Brain to Get RichTransformation Trauma in the Lives of ChildrenUltimate SexUnderstanding the Borderline MotherUndoing DepressionUnhappy TeenagersUnlock the Genius WithinUntangling the WebVirtual AddictionWaking Up to What You DoWay to Be!What We Say MattersWhat Women WantWhat's Happening to My Body? Book for BoysWhat's Holding You Back? When a Family Member Has DementiaWhen a Parent is DepressedWhen in Doubt, Make BeliefWhen Perfect Isn't Good EnoughWhen Someone You Love Is DepressedWhen Things Fall ApartWhen Words Are Not EnoughWhen Your Body Gets the BluesWhen Your Child Has an Eating DisorderWherever You Go, There You AreWhy Can't I Change?Why Is It Always About You?Why Smart Executives FailWorried All the TimeWoulda, Coulda, ShouldaWriting as a Sacred PathWriting in FlowWriting to HealYes, Your Teen Is Crazy!Yoga 4 TeensYoga as MedicineYoga for EveryoneYoga for MeditatorsYoga for OsteoporosisYoga for Pain ReliefYoga for Regular Guys DVDYoga for the Young at HeartYoga on DemandYoga Weight Loss for DummiesYou Are Not AloneYou Are Not Your IllnessYou Can Think Yourself ThinYou'll See It When You Believe ItYour Body Speaks Your MindYour Brain on FoodYour Child, Bully or Victim?Zen Sex
It emerges from this book that the author Natalie Spingarn is a woman dedicated entirely to the subject of suffering with cancer. She writes from the point of view of a patient, a sufferer and as someone who believes with great sincerity that she is on a crusade -- a crusade to bring information, statistics knowledge, and fine detail, to the reader, who is assumed to be a sufferer, a fellow sufferer, and who is looking for ways to cope with the suffering.
I will go, in a moment, into the business of reviewing the book in some detail because the passions of Spingarn do warrant respect and the duty of a reviewer to be fair and impartial. I will be as fair and impartial as possible but I must admit, at this stage, to-having a disadvantage, which might in some opinions, also be a qualification. I have "suffered" cancer. I have been advised, when the tumor was discovered, that in a scale of aggressiveness from 1 to 10, mine was a 9.5: I therefore have some insight into the subject and feel that this should be admitted to the reader at the start.
I wish this book had never been written. However beautiful the syntax, however well defined the linguistic style, however correct the statistics and however well-defined the subject, it is put together by an amateur, a non-medical person, a non-expert. Reading this book is rather like looking through a medical dictionary. After the first 10 pages, symptoms of disease begin to present themselves. After a hundred pages, the unfortunate reader is convinced that he is suffering from conditions that are unpleasant, incurable and almost certainly, fatal. Turning over the last page leaves the poor reader in a state of near collapse. So it is with The New Cancer Survivors. In my non-medical, non-expert opinion, this book is troublesome, unwise and possibly harmful.
The opening paragraph immediately tells that the author, Natalie Spingarn, has had repeated bouts of metastatic breast cancer plus other diseases, since 1974 and mentions survival rates and the work of the ACS (American Cancer Society) the NCI (National Cancer Institute) and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). NCI Director Dr. Richard Klausner (who likes to be known as Rick and seldom wears a jacket or tie, because he has to be "humble," is quoted.) Never mind what he is quoted saying: my point is about the style of the book on its second page: it is as if it was a meeting of neighbors talking over the garden fence telling each other of the worst possible scenario. The author states that 1500 women, men and children a day will die of cancer in the US. That's half a million people a year. The statistics have a great weakness--they are not put in context. How many women, men and children die of influenza, electric shocks, falling down stairs or run over by a vehicle? The statistical approach used throughout the book is designed to impress and frighten and has little relevance other than to depress.
Still on page 3, I now quote.
So have rates of the oral cavity, the other major cancer I have suffered (without exposure to the main risk factors - it is more than thirty years since I have smoked and I've never been a heavy drinker.) I say "major" cancer because the official numbers do not even include the many basal and squamous cancers my dermatologist constantly freezes or cuts off my skin (for this I plead guilty, only in recent years have I stopped the sunbathing I love and have been meticulous about covering myself with sunscreen)
This attitude persists throughout the following 213 pages, offering information that does not help those who are seeking help. It is as if by telling of her own suffering in grim detail she is thinking it will help the searcher for relief feel better. Page 5 (no I am not going to wade through every single page dear reader) tells of Ellen Stonewall, NCCS director, who points out that the notion of a cure implies a measure of permanence, "that may or may not be realistic." How comforting. Said Ellen, a twenty-seven year two time Hodgkin's Disease survivor, who is as compelling as she is endearing, "Hams are for curing. People are for surviving". Betty Salter had a lumpectomy with radiation to achieve a "cure" and says " I'm not surprised when people live on, like us, leading good gutsy lives, I'm surprised when they do not." Still on page 5 I quote "Hopping on one of those little Toonerville trolleys to Olde Towne I sat next to a slight lady of my vintage with a deceptively soft, sweet southern drawl who introduced herself as Sally Henderson." What's with your health?.". It took us all the way downtown and back for her to tell me about her four cancers and the feisty intelligent way she had dealt with them. She had a bilateral breast cancer in 1973, then colon cancer in 1979, followed by melanoma of the eye and lung cancer".
There is an almost pointless frenzy throughout, in describing individuals and their conditions in awful detail. All the people, almost all female, are courageous, strong, feisty, brave, and intelligent. She talks of the sadness of Moms and Dads of the Twilight Zone, the Cancer twilight zone, as being a world that other people haven't lived in. This is really frightful stuff.
The paragraph headed THE BAD NEWS is really bad news. Lumps, biopsies, cysts and more breast removal and dissecting ancillary lymph nodes body scans and more spreading of the cancer to the hip and chemotherapy. These are all discussed. Opinions are given by all and sundry and she went also to receive an award for outstanding contributions to the public understanding of psychiatry. Psychiatry??
Whatever the title of the chapter, the content is the snippets from here and there, in graphic gruesome detail of the conditions of people who have been interviewed. At page 199, we are told of Suzanne, a tall beautiful young woman with large hoop earrings who had prayed for a child. She had a beautiful daughter and developed breast cancer. Why, she apparently asked, had God blessed her with a child only to then cause her cancer. Puzzling this out took an inordinate amount of her precious time. The Kwakintl Indians learn enough of the meaning of life to be ready to die.
I could go on. My notations in the margins give me enough material to write many pages. I will not. I will spare my reader from more suffering.
Natalie Spingarn, not a doctor, is completely untrained in any medical matters. Yet she writes a book that could cause great distress to any cancer patient or those who fear the disease. It is a pointless book reflecting her own belief that she is a brave sufferer and that she is doing some good. If you have a relative or friend who may or may not be ill then keep them well away from this catalog of statistics, sick people, and tedious trivia.
Let me advise those interested to listen to skilled, qualified medical advice. NOT other patients. NOT well meaning ill-advised amateurs. And for the record, if being ill with anything is no fun, dwelling on it is worse. Science only last week told us that laughter is a great medicine!
Wyndham Perring is an independent designer and consultant in medical products. He lives in Stratford-upon-Avon, England.