Gail Ironson, M.D., Ph.D.

One day a life altering experience happens to you and your life is turned upside down. For Cindy, this experience came when she was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 46.

Cindy Papale
Cindy Papale

For over 18 years, I have known Cindy as the bubbly administrative assistant who makes everyone who comes to our Psychological Services clinic feel comfortable and who treats everyone with kindness and respect. Now she transforms her own wrenching experience into a way to inform and educate us about many aspects of dealing with breast cancer. Cindy has done an amazing feat. She not only openly shares with us her own very personal story from shock at the moment of diagnosis, through the terror of making decisions about treatment and the fears one faces with this diagnosis, but she has drawn together an amazing group of specialists who write chapters on everything you would ever want to know about this illness. Although it is written especially for high school and college students, the information in here would help anyone navigating through the struggles of breast cancer, or wanting to understand them.

Cindy’s nature is to share with and help people. Her natural inclination to help others led to her giving lectures to high school and college students about her own experience with breast cancer. The response was overwhelming to her talks, and the questions the students asked led her to realize that a book might be helpful: She has organized this book around the answers to those questions both for the patients themselves, and for the friends and relatives of patients. How do I (or my friends/relatives) deal with this diagnosis? What kind of biopsies are there? What can I expect during chemotherapy or radiation?

What options are available for breast reconstruction? therapy? Will I get lymphedema and what can be done about it? Should I have my breasts reconstructed? How can people prevent breast cancer? What about digital mammograms? What nutritional supplements are useful?

The authors take the mystery and the fear out of breast cancer by making the diagnosis and what happens familiar. In addition to Cindy’s story, there are other deeply personal accounts of what it is like to deal with breast cancer. Kristy Lasch (chapter 16), diagnosed when she was only 22, writes “Your whole world turns upside down in a matter of minutes. You go from beautiful and calm to lonely and ugly".

This book is a treasure trove of information. Everyone needs to read this book. Not just people with breast cancer, or friends and relatives of people with breast cancer, but anyone who has ever had questions about breast cancer, which means each one of us. It is one of the most readable and most informative books available on breast cancer.