Colon and Rectal Cancer: A Complete Guide for Patients and Families
By Lorraine Johnston
O'Reilly and Associates, Inc.
Sebastopol, CA 1999
ISBN 1-56592-633-1 US $24.95 CAN $36.95
Reviewed by Pati Lanning
Lorraine Johnston's 1999 Colon and Rectal Cancer is a must have book for navigating the maze of colorectal cancer. From clearly explaining symptoms and testing, on through diagnosis, treatment and after, this book is an invaluable resource. Consisting of 439 pages, 24 chapters, Ms. Johnston's book also offers a comprehensive glossary, bibliography, and four excellent appendices that include additional resources and blood test values, thus enabling the reader to quickly find answers and information.
Very detailed, yet easily readable, this guide is highly understandable due to Ms. Johnston's BS degree in Life Sciences and her family and friends' encounters with cancer. Don't expect cut and dried text, for the author not only defines medical terms in layman's language, but also includes candid and touching quotes from CRC patients.
The first six chapters explain colorectal cancer and prognoses, and describe symptoms, diagnosis, staging, types of treatment, the different types of doctors, and the range of emotional responses. Infinitely helpful are suggestions on how to find the best doctors, hospitals and treatment facilities.
The next eight chapters explain what can be expected during hospitalization, experiencing different types of treatments, and how to cope with side effects. Stress and support, as well as insurance, employment and financial issues are discussed. Your fear of the unknown will fall away as you learn what to expect.
Life after treatment, staying vigilant, understanding late effects and complications of treatment, as well as sexuality, fertility and pregnancy are addressed in the last nine chapters. Recurrence, if it happens, is examined with an eye to action, particularly what might be the next step. This section also addresses other important issues, including clinical trials, traveling to receive better care, what to do if all treatment has failed, what the future holds for new therapies, and researching your illness.
Ms. Johnston not only explains all aspects of colorectal cancer, throughout the book she has included numerous references to other books, Internet links, and phone numbers for contacting various organizations for further information. Having all these resources at one's fingertips is a tremendous asset and time saver. I believe the reader will find it as hard to put this book down as I did. I only wish this thorough and uplifting book had been available as I began my journey through the world of colorectal cancer.
Pati Lanning is a colorectal cancer survivor and member of the Colon Cancer Alliance.