Who could better write a book on chemotherapy than two chemo nurses from Alta Bates Hospital in Berkeley, one with over 25 years experience as a chemo nurse involved in patient education and the other with several years as an oncology-certified nurse and family nurse practitioner? These ladies are on the front lines, in the trenches, so to speak and they know all the questions and all the tricks you need to deal with chemotherapy. If you or a loved one are facing cancer treatment this is a good primer on what to expect and what you can do to lessen the effects and just get through the ordeal with your sanity intact. It starts with a short primer on cell life and cancer cells and goes into an explanation of some of the types of chemotherapy and treatments. They give you an idea of what to expect and how to cope with the side effects that may or may not occur. It's good to know what's normal and what isn't, when to check in with your doctor and when you can handle things on your own.
I liked that they wrote the book in easy to understand language and addressed a lot of practical issues like coping with hair loss, digestive changes, dealing with nausea, diarrhea or constipation and mouth and throat problems. Actually the anti-nausea medications are so good these days that a majority of people don't feel nausea at all. They name some of the common anti-nausea drugs and tell how each one works which I found useful. Another chapter that I really liked was the one on blood tests results and how to make sense of them. Looking these things up on the internet can be very confusing sometimes. Which ones are the most important, which one just follow some of the other values and which can be treated with drugs should they drop too low? This book explains all that. Oncologists usually provide some of this information but with so many questions and things to remember from a visit, it's nice to have it in book form where you can just go back and refer to it as different issues arise.
A few of the chapters were contributed by other experts such as the one on nutrition during chemo and the one on mind and body connection. These were very helpful and contributed lots of good ideas and suggestions. Stress, fertility, sexuality, the IV experience, relaxation techniques and finally life after treatments and being a survivor are all covered in this book. Just knowing what to expect, what to call your doctor about and what you can do yourself to address some of the issues can make the whole experience a little easier to deal with and a lot less scary. If you or a loved one is facing chemo, this book will help all of you get through it.