Cancer Survivorship Coping Tools - We'll get you through this

Cancer Survivorship Coping Tools - We'll get you through this

Tools for cancer's emotional pain from a melanoma and breast cancer survivor

A melanoma and breast cancer survivor helps people diagnosed with cancer work through the emotional pain and upheaval of cancer.


Hearing the words “You have cancer” can be devastating—some cancer patients even say that the emotional pain and loss of certainty from hearing this are worse than the pains from the cancer, surgeries, radiation, chemotherapy, and other treatments.
This is the intimate journey of a melanoma and breast cancer survivor who honestly, and sometimes even humorously, shares her own story and offers supportive emotional tools to help people diagnosed with cancer, and their loved ones and caregivers, work through the emotional pain and upheaval of a cancer diagnosis. You will be supported in knowing what it feels like to hear you have cancer and be given a variety of helpful ideas to start feeling better whether you are newly diagnosed, in treatment, or months or years after treatment. If you are a caregiver, friend, or family member who wants to help, you will get a better understanding of the cancer experience as well as tools to help the person you care about.


This book is written by a breast cancer and melanoma survivor, but it is relevant for any type of cancer. It is aimed at helping people deal with their emotions through diagnosis; treatment; and recovery. It talks through various tools for each stage, starting with how you might be feeling then ideas to try to help you deal with these feelings. Someone just diagnosed will get the most benefit from it but even though I finished treatment six months ago, I still found it really interesting and helpful. It will be less helpful for those with a terminal diagnosis, but there are still things they might find helpful. It may also be useful for friends or relatives who want ideas on how to help support the patient, but it is probably most helpful to just buy them this book! I found it very easy to understand and it will be accessible for most people. There are many short segments, which make it easy to dip in and more manageable if you are feeling tired or struggling to focus. It’s a small, light book, easy to carry around in a small bag. The price (£19.99) is high, but it seems to be available for £9.99 online. It is full of practical tips and suggestions for dealing with the emotional impact of cancer. The author is very careful to remind people that they should only do the things they find helpful. In places, her writing reflects her Christian faith, but the book is suitable for those of any faith or none. I like how she quotes from the journal she kept during treatment, but re-examines her feelings based on how she was feeling when writing the book. She also says what she wished she had known but didn’t. It is American, so a few things (e.g. building your own team) don't really work the same here, but this is a minor complaint as it’s a tiny part of the book. I really enjoyed this book. It is very easy (and quick) to read. I would recommend it generally as I think a lot of people would find it helpful when they are going through difficult times. There is a lot packed into it. ~ Recovering from inflammatory breast cancer (May 2015), Macmillan Cancer Support: Books and DVD Reviews - March 2016

This book covers the cancer journey from diagnosis so it would be useful at any time. It is very easy to read, partly because it is short but mostly because the author has a very honest and straightforward way of writing. Although she is American and this influences her approach to medical treatment, she writes from the heart about her reaction to her diagnosis and the impact it has had on her life and family. I really like her writing style. She says things like "I hate cancer" and "I have lost certainty"; so true, you lose certainty and control. She allows you to be selfish. By this I mean that she verbalises how difficult it can be to deal with other people's feelings and reactions, especially when people say "I know how you feel". She also identifies the huge shock of the words "you have cancer"; your life is changed forever, you have to find a new normal. I like how she suggests ideas that may be helpful. This book could be very helpful to cancer patients and their families and carers and therefore I would highly recommend it. Don't be put off by her references to her faith. She acknowledges that it may not work for everyone but her tips and personal experiences should strike a chord with cancer patients and their loved ones. ~ Breast cancer patient (October 2015) , Macmillan Cancer Support: Books and DVD Reviews - March 2016

This could be read at any stage of the cancer journey although it is perhaps of most benefit when first diagnosed. It is also useful for those who have recovered from treatment for cancer but still worry and for carers or friends because it gives good advice on how to approach the topic with the patient. The language is pitched well for someone just diagnosed. There are not too many technical terms so a glossary is not necessary. The author uses positive language throughout and gives the reader permission to use the book as it best suits them. The good, logical order means you can dip in and out. It is a quick read and a good size to keep with you if you want reassurance through your journey. The cover and typeface are clear and the bullet-point lists are a good source of support and reference when dipping in and out as emotions fluctuate. The author also uses other people’s experiences, which help realise a broad range of thoughts and emotions. She is realistic in her explanations and outlook, in particular when she states that it is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. There is scant reference to melanoma; however, the emotions are similar regardless of cancer. It is an American book with reference, quite rightly, to American support services. Certain aspects of treatment may not apply here. For example, we don’t appear to be able to 'assemble the best team’; we have the team we are assigned to. I don’t think we have psychotherapists but we do have other sources of emotional support, such as Macmillan nurses. This might put off someone who is looking for something more UK based. However, the tools can be used by anyone of any nationality or culture. From the outset, this book lays the foundation of realisation that cancer is an individual journey along which others can offer support. The author empathetically describes her own feelings of shock and isolation when first diagnosed with breast cancer and then melanoma. The three sections make it a resource that can be used at different stages of the journey and the tools encourage the patient and supporters to formulate their own coping tools. I like the ability of the author to empathise rather than sympathise. Most readers will recognise many aspects of their own emotions in their journey with cancer. ~ Post breast cancer treatment (April 2015) , Macmillan Cancer Support: Books and DVD Reviews - March 2016

This book addresses the emotional aspects of having cancer and provides coping tools for various stages, i.e. at diagnosis, during active treatment and after active treatment has finished. It discusses the feelings that the person may be experiencing and ways of managing these. Although it is written for people who are experiencing cancer themselves, it might also be useful for partners, carers, family and friends and health professionals, to help them understand how someone may be feeling. They might also be able to pass on some of the suggested coping tools to the patient. The author has based the book on her own experience of having (two types) of cancer and follows this chronologically; this makes it flow well and also easy for the reader to read only about the stage they are at themselves if they wish. Her style is conversational and she does not use any technical jargon so the book is easy to follow and understand. There are no factual inaccuracies that I am aware of, though the author is American so a few things are not applicable to most people here (e.g. researching and choosing one's own team of professionals to provide treatment). It is a fairly slim volume and the paper is of poor quality, considering the price of the book. The cover is bright and positive, with a picture of a country road (possibly representing the cancer “journey”). There are no other illustrations and some line drawings would have been useful to break up the text and provide interest. It is a very practical book, containing many ideas to help people cope with the emotional aspects of having cancer, e.g. anxiety, feeling down, feeling overwhelmed, worrying about the possibility of recurrence. Many different tools are included – the author suggests that the reader can pick and choose the tools that they feel will be relevant to them. The author writes about her own emotional experiences and thus is able to reassure readers that whatever they are feeling is normal and understandable and that things can and will improve. She has had two completely unrelated types of cancer so it is particularly useful for people who share this experience, as I do. The author is a committed Christian, so there are references to her beliefs throughout the book. Although she suggests that people who do not share her beliefs can ignore these references some people may find them off-putting. She also frequently uses the term “cancer journey”. Although I recognise that some people do use this term to describe their experience I also know that others find it unhelpful and irritating. This book offers useful support to help patients cope with the myriad of emotions that a cancer diagnosis, its treatment and their aftermath can bring. Most people will be able to find something to help them. Thinking back to when I had my own primary cancers, I would have found it helpful to have a book like this. The initial shock of the diagnosis, the grinding months of treatment and the longer-term effects are all covered and the author is extremely open about her own difficulties and the times she struggled emotionally. She has written the book she would have liked to have had herself to help her get through her cancer. It is wonderful that she has been able to use her experiences in this way to help other people. I have rated it as four stars because, although the content is good, the book is poorly presented and expensive. ~ Cancer patient (metastatic breast cancer) (February 2016) , Macmillan Cancer Support: Books and DVD Reviews - March 2016

This is written as a practical self-help guide based on the author's experience of what helped her cope with her cancer at various stages from diagnosis, through active treatment, to beyond. The cover implies it is specifically relevant to people affected by melanoma and/or breast cancer but it is applicable to any type of cancer. It is also useful for carers/friends/health professionals to understand the feelings and emotions someone is going through to inform how they might effectively provide support. The order seems logical and the short sections and comprehensive contents enable the reader to use the book as a reference at different points in their journey. It is easy to understand and the journal extracts and quotes help to convey the points being made. In a few instances, the text seems repetitive, e.g. the lists on a similar theme, but this does not detract from an informative read and may be intentional to reflect subtle differences in how the author was feeling at different stages in her journey. The author's experience is based in America and therefore includes references to nuances in American healthcare provision; for example it talks about selecting your medical team, which is probably not so relevant for patients in the UK. I like the practical suggestions of things the author found helpful, in particular the various lists and the focus on living with a cancer diagnosis after active treatment; I haven't seen many other publications that acknowledge the challenges this brings. I like how she describes the challenges of living in limbo – 'waiting for the cancer NOT to come back'. She also addresses the need to face the risk of recurrence – often played down by people in a support role in an effort to promote positivity. The author acknowledges that everyone’s cancer journey is unique and does not advocate that her suggestions will be appropriate for everyone. I quickly felt an affinity with her, when early on she conveys the magnitude of a cancer diagnosis by describing her feelings of cancer as 'relentless, continuous, all-encompassing and overpowering' and how it brings a loss of certainty. I was a little apprehensive of the multiple faith references early on, but these do not dominate the rest of the book. On pages 10-11, there is a great summary of what she would want as a cancer patient in a list format and on page 16 there is a list of things that bother her about her cancer; this is obviously personal but many of the sentiments will resonate with other patients and may therefore be invaluable for carers and friends in understanding how they can provide effective support. I like the suggestion to try to articulate the positives from a cancer journey – reflecting on what has been gleaned from the experience so as not to consider it a period of 'lost time'. Whilst the sentiment of the author is positive in terms of offering practical steps that can be taken to help process a patient's experience, at times the tone feels a little effusive e.g. 'we'll get you through this'. ~ Living with ovarian cancer (April 2015) , Macmillan Cancer Support: Book and DVD Reviews - March 2016

This matter-of-fact book covers the bad and good side of cancer survivorship and how to cope. It is perhaps best used after treatment. I like that it is factual and pulls no punches. It’s easy to understand and it makes sense but it may be a little difficult for some to follow depending on their prior knowledge of cancer. A very good read; it’s a book that can elate as well as deflate, everyone copes with survivorship in different ways and may not feel that this book is useful. At the same time I am sure that others will find it incredibly useful and a book to refer back to. It’s a good read and has good coping strategies; people finding it difficult to cope, could find this a very useful resource that could help them to find ways to cope ~ Family members had cancer (June 2015) , Macmillan Cancer Support: Book and DVD Reviews - March 2016 issue

This book is ideal for anyone who is going through their own cancer journey, but it is equally valid for family, friends and health care workers. It would be a great tool to have after diagnosis when you are ready to learn how to start coping with such lifechanging news. There are strategies to help you take control of your coping mechanisms to get you through your journey, emotionally, socially, and physically. The author’s approach is methodical, explaining different coping tools and discussing the different stages from diagnosis, through treatment to survivorship. It is very easy to understand and follow. She does not really use technical words as the book is based on her cancer journey. Abbreviated organisational names are referenced and web pages are listed at the back under 'website resources', complete with a brief explanation of what the website offers. The author also includes a bibliography to assist readers with additional reading material if required. Overall, the book is quite appealing. The size is handy – it fits easily into a small handbag – and the vivid colour of the cover is eye catching. The picture can be interpreted as a long road that you must travel when you are diagnosed; although we don’t know where it will lead us, the blue skies ahead are an analogy. The pages are off white and the font is a good size and easy to read. Bold sub-headings help identify separate sections. There are no photographs. The tone is friendly and matter of fact and the author ensures you understand that these are her own thoughts. I like the fact that the author has been open about what she went through, her thoughts and feelings and desire to help others be able to cope with their illness in a positive manner. Although I do not have any issues with the author’s religious comments, they may be off putting to readers that do not share her religious views. It is American and some of the terminology is therefore American; for example she refers to 'dollars' and 'The American Cancer Society'. However, although this may make it a more engaging read for an American audience, it is not a problem, as the overall content of the book is very much appropriate and would be useful. This could be a very useful resource; I have personal experience of using some of the coping strategies discussed and there are some valid points that could benefit cancer patients and help them to cope with their own journey in a more positive way. ~ Breast cancer survivor (46-55) (August 2015) , Macmillan Cancer Support: Book and DVD Reviews - March 2016 issue

Barbara Tako is a breast cancer survivor since 2010 and a melanoma survivor since 2014. Beginning in 1998, Barbara Tako has been a professional seminar leader, speaker, and published writer on clutter clearing and home organizing. In "Cancer Survivorship Coping Tools - We'll Get you Through This: Tools for Cancer's Emotional Pain From a Melanoma and Breast Cancer Survivor" she draws upon her personal experience and hard won expertise to create an invaluable, informative, and comforting instructional guide that should be considered a "must read" for anyone who is having to deal with cancer in themselves or with a friend or family member. Exceptionally 'reader friendly' in tone, organization, presentation, and content, "Cancer Survivorship Coping Tools" is very highly recommended for medical center, community, and academic library Health/Medicine collections in general, and Cancer Treatment supplemental studies reading lists in particular. It should be noted that "Cancer Survivorship Coping Tools" is available for interested individuals in a Kindle edition ($7.99). ~ The Health/Medicine Shelf, Midwest Book Reviews

There are so many books on cancer management and experience on today's market that it's unusual to see one that holds something different on the subject; but Cancer Survivorship Coping Tools comes from the writings of a two-time cancer survivor whose intent is to use her experience to provide tools for recovery from cancer's emotional pain (she is a survivor of breast cancer and melanoma), and it focuses on the emotional needs of patients and their caregivers. From the moment of diagnosis through treatment and the turmoil that rises and falls like a tide, it provides not just a candid account of the author's own struggles, but adds unexpected humor and tips for perceiving positive paths when facing life-threatening health challenges. Its pages give clues on how supporters can help, and provide patients with insights on their emotional ups and downs and how to redirect negative impulses into positive results. Most of all, Cancer Survivorship Coping Tools goes beyond the usual meditation and imagery tips other books provide to impart some candid, different observations - such as how to not shut out those who want to help and, most of all, how to learn to trust one's body again. If all this sounds too simple, keep in mind that this set of tools is fairly basic. There's no magic in them; but having them all under one cover as a toolbox is a special event: one cancer survivors will want to celebrate. ~ Donovan, Midwest Book Review: California Book Watch

A useful book for anyone touched by cancer of any type, as the "tools" or methods of coping are relevant to all. It is useful for the whole cancer journey, from diagnosis through treatment and importantly afterwards, when often there is more doubt and questioning than when you are actively involved in treatment. It is divided into three main areas, but the tools and methods are adaptable to whichever stage of your journey you are at; the author makes this very clear and that you may want to skip parts that are not relevant to your own journey. This is a very reassuring approach; she describes her own journey but stresses that you are an individual and she is trying to help you, not tell you what to do or how to be. It is very easy to follow and written in a friendly style. It is a small book and easy to pick up and put down. You can read it from cover to cover as I did first time round, and then refer back to individual chapters or sections, it's very accessible. I like the straightforward way it’s written and the focus on the reader. It is an excellent book for emotional support and helps the reader explore their feelings and emotions; it never tries to tell the reader that they are wrong, just offers some friendly narrative, check lists and ideas for helping you cope – simple and effective. ~ Breast cancer survivor (3+ years) (July 2015) , Macmillan Cancer Support: Books and DVD Reviews - March 2016

For any woman who has been diagnosed with breast cancer, information is vital. But more important, it needs to be good information. Barb's book more than qualifies! ~ Julie Edstrom, breast cancer survivor, support group facilitator and spiritual director

Sound, practical advice, delivered in a conversation-over-coffee style, for people dealing with any aspect of a breast cancer diagnosis - a book filled with much-needed information. ~ Anne Johnson, breast cancer survivor since Fall, 1996

Mrs. Barbara Tako tells her compelling and poignant real-life journey as she navigates the challenging waters of breast cancer and her life that endures through it all. Well-written. Well-articulated. Easy to read and understand. Reading this book will be a comfort and encouragement to anyone associated with breast cancer or any other life-threatening disease; whether it be patient, caregiver, family, friends and/or pre, during, or post journey. Throughout the book, Mrs. Tako refers to herself as a "breast cancer survivor". God calls her "more than a conqueror". With the tools and insights in this book, you can be "more than a conqueror" too. ~ Greg McClain, retired John Deere Manager; Caregiver for Breast and GIST Cancer patient for over 12 years,

A must read for those challenged with breast cancer, seeking ideas and inspiration on how to cope with worries accompanying thoughts of surviving today and living tomorrow. ~ Karmen Mattsen, three-time cancer survivor (Hodgkins lymphoma, breast, skin)

The author takes us on a reluctant journey. The reader is immersed in the realities and ravages of surgery and chemotherapy. Modern medical therapy offers hope, but always against a backround of fear and uncertainty. In the mists of this battleground, the Soul exerts its' instinct for freedom. We have choices. Our choices define us, give us clarity, and purpose. Slyly, the author has taken us on a spiritual journey. She exhorts us to make our own journey, and we close the book grateful she has shared hers. ~ Dr. Kevin Hallman, M.D., obstetrician and gynecologist

This is a heartfelt and personal account of a patient's walk through breast cancer. Although at times raw, it reveals the triumph of hope and love over trauma and uncertainty. It is full of good advice about education, support groups, coping, and appreciating all the good in life and will serve as a valuable resource for any newly diagnosed breast (or any cancer) patient. ~ Dr. Candy Abramson Corey, M.D., oncologist and breast cancer survivor

Barbara Tako
Barbara Tako Since 1998, Barbara Tako has taught clutter clearing and home organizing as a professional motivational speaker and published writer. In 20...
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