The Chemotherapy & Radiation Therapy Survival Guide
Judith McKay, R.N., O.C.N.
Nancee Hirano, R.N., M.S., A.O.C.N.
New Harbinger Publications, Inc., 1998
ISBN 1-57224-070-9 $14.95
Reviewed by Sheree Baker
Who better to write a comprehensive guide to chemotherapy and radiation therapy than two experienced, caring oncology nurses? Likening the dilemma of facing cancer therapy to being "dropped behind enemy lines during a war," Judith McKay and Nancee Hirano offer a survival guide to demystify the process and arm patients and caregivers with practical survival techniques.
The guide offers a unique blend of scientific expertise — utilizing medical doctors to write several of the chapters dealing with their fields — and compassionate insight — drawing upon the nurses' firsthand experiences with oncology patients. McKay and Hirano begin the guide with a thorough discussion of chemotherapy and radiation therapy, blood tests, and the IV experience. Next, they include chapters on coping with nausea, digestive problems, hair loss/skin changes, and fatigue. The final chapters focus on sexuality/fertility and bone marrow/stem cell transplants. The guide ends with an explanation of how the mind and body work together and details techniques for relaxation and stress reduction. Along with an exhaustive index if the reader wishes to use the guide on an as-needed topic basis, the authors have included an appendix of drugs often associated with treatments, giving both brand and generic names.
Speaking from recent experience, this reference proves invaluable in both understanding and dealing with cancer therapies. It covers virtually every aspect of both therapies in an accessible format, answering questions with specific, up-to-date information that appeals to both mind and heart. I agree with Shirley McGrath, Patient Services Manager, Leukemia Society of America, Northern California Chapter, whose assessment appears inside the front cover: "Reading this book was like being given many gifts — first of all, the gift of information written solely for parents and families. Equally important, the last three chapters offer the gifts of relaxation and stress reduction through many different approaches…all extremely valuable tools for bringing peace to mind and spirit."