“A Breast Cancer Alphabet” – A Review & Giveaway!

I’m always pleased to share my thoughts on books and products that I feel you might be interested in. I’m feeling even a bit more pleased about this particular review of the new book, A Breast Cancer Alphabet by Madhulika Sikka.

Why?

Well, when I first agreed to take a look at A Breast Cancer Alphabet, I sort of expected to not like it.

For some reason, my initial reaction to a book with the title, A Breast Cancer Alphabet, was – oh, great. Here we go again. I expected an A-Z handbook full of let’s smile our way through breast cancer tips.

I was wrong. I did like it and it was not what I expected. Sometimes it’s nice to be wrong.

It turns out, the author, Madhulika Sikka, speaks my kind of “breast cancer language.” Her ideas, impressions and opinions about her breast cancer experience are refreshing, honest and not at all sugar-coated in pink goo. That old saying, don’t judge a book by its cover, or maybe in this case, by its title, is right on. In fact, I wish I had thought of this alphabet idea for a breast cancer book!

Madhulika Sikka follows the simple yet engaging format of selecting a word which she feels best describes her breast cancer experience, to match up with each letter of the alphabet.

A few examples are:

‘C’ is for Cancerland –

“Well here’s the thing about  Cancerland–one minute you are minding your own business, living your humdrum life, and the next minute you are thrust into this strange land of surgeries, and drugs and side effects, and pain and anxiety, and you didn’t even have a minute to prepare for it.”

Bingo!

‘H’ is for Hair –

“Now in the grand scheme of things this (losing your hair) might not be such a big deal. Kill the cancer, lose the hair. That doesn’t sound like a bad trade-off to the rational mind. But when have we ever been rational about hair? It is okay. You are allowed to be irrational about this one because the hair thing is a big deal.”

Bravo! A woman who thinks like me about the hair!

‘M’ is for Mastectomy –

“… It is a brutal, violent thing to have happen to you, and it is perfectly fine to feel that it is an amputation, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise… On those truly dark days when you are in real pain, and you look down and the familiar landscape of your body is no longer there, it is a humbling and mournful experience.”

Personally, I think mastectomies should be called amputations too. And no, you don’t need to feel bad about grieving for your breasts.

‘P’ is for Pillows

“In a time of enormous discomfort, pillows are an indulgence that you can afford and they actually make a huge difference. Who knew?”

This one hits a more practical note  and reminds me of a pillow story I need to write about sometime…

So there you have a tiny sampling of what this book is like.

A Breast Cancer Alphabet is a quick read, each alphabet essay being just a few pages – another reason to give it a thumbs up because fresh into a breast cancer diagnosis, a woman’s concentration span isn’t that long, or at least mine wasn’t.

This book is sort of like having a breast cancer diagnosis guidebook at your fingertips.

However, and this is a big however, this guidebook does not downplay any aspect of, or the seriousness of the disease experience, nor does the author profess to knowing the proper way “to do breast cancer.” Heaven knows we don’t want or need more of that. Instead, with each well thought-out essay she offers observations, personal insights and practical advice – all delivered with intelligent wit, humor and a dash of sarcasm.

Ultimately, I enjoyed this book so much because Madhulika Sikka candidly shares her truths without suggesting that they should be mine or yours. In fact, I realized upon reading this book, that my choice words for some letters would be the same ones this author chose and for others, they’d be quite different. More on this to come…

A Breast Cancer Alphabet is like having a chat with someone who’s walked the walk and has a thing or two to share with you about it which just might make your walk a bit less scary.

For the newly diagnosed, or even the not so newly diagnosed, what could be better than that?

Note: You are invited to submit your letter to A Breast Cancer Alphabet’s Tumblr page here.

If you’d like to enter my giveaway for a chance to win a FREE copy of A Breast Cancer Alphabet, then all you have to do is leave a comment below stating so by 5 pm on March 16th and you’re in! And this time, I’m picking TWO lucky winners, so your chances to win are even better! The winners will be announced shortly thereafter on this post, so be sure to check back!

So why not enter today?

Why are you interested (or not interested) in reading this book?

The two lucky winners are —

Lisa and Sara!

Congratulations, Lisa and Sara! I’ll contact you soon! And everyone else, thank you for participating in my giveaway. Please stay tuned. There will be TWO more opportunities to win this book!

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38 comments


  • vicki kelley

    March 11, 2014

    Sounds like a very intriguing book! Will have to read!

    • Nancy

      March 12, 2014

      Vicki, I think you’ll enjoy it.

  • Gail Lanter

    March 11, 2014

    This would be terrific to add to our to our lending library. We do love our alphabet and acronyms here – DIEP, GAP, SIEA, PAP!

    • Nancy

      March 12, 2014

      Gail, I hadn’t thought of all those acronyms in this context! And yes, this book would be a good addition to any lending library. Thanks for participating.

  • Josie

    March 11, 2014

    Would love to read this. Always looking for authors who understand the cancer experience.

    • Nancy

      March 12, 2014

      Josie, Me too. I can’t read enough about it. Good luck!

  • Kathy H.

    March 11, 2014

    I would love to compare the book to my experience!

    • Nancy

      March 12, 2014

      Kathy, Keep in mind this book is about the author’s experience and insights. Comparing always makes me nervous! ha. Good luck!

  • Patty White

    March 11, 2014

    This book reviews are awesome! I’d love a chance to win as I was Dx’d with HERS2+ and had my mastectomy in Nov. 2013. I’m still learning and recovering while undergoing Chemo. THANK YOU for this opportunity to win your wonderful book. GOOD LUCK LADIES!

    • Nancy

      March 12, 2014

      Patty, You’re so welcome and my best to you.

  • Amanda H

    March 11, 2014

    Hey Nancy just to say I’m actually going to share this on the UK forums and add to our recent bibliography too. I’m always drawn to your posts and I thank you for your informative views and perspective on all things this bitch ( I mean Cancer ) throws at us.

  • Sara Diamond

    March 11, 2014

    Hi Nancy,

    I’ll enter the contest b/c if you like the book and think it’s got a good take, I’m inclined to feel that way, too.

    • Nancy

      March 12, 2014

      Sara, Well, what a nice thing to say. Thank you! You’re in.

  • Lisa Valentine

    March 12, 2014

    You gave us enough of a taste of what this book offers that it sounds like one I would appreciate reading. Count me in!
    Thanks!

    • Nancy

      March 12, 2014

      Lisa, Thanks so much. Consider yourself counted in.

  • Kira

    March 12, 2014

    Nancy, because I value your honesty and it allows me to validate my experience even if it is different from others.

    Just a note: when I go onto your site, I found a google ad on the left hand corner of the first paragraph–I made it go away, but I wondered if I’m the only one who has this content put into a blog I enjoy (it was a weird ad).

    • Nancy

      March 12, 2014

      Kira, Thank you for the kind words. And you make that ever important point about validating our own experiences while not judging others. And about that ad, I don’t have control over the Google ads. I know they can be highly annoying sometimes, but just try to ignore them. Thanks for participating in my giveaway!

  • Karin Bosela

    March 12, 2014

    As an avid reader, even more so now that I have MS and can no longer work – I would love a copy of your book as I am sure that I can relate to much of the contents. If a MS diagnosis with a form that has no treatment wasn’t enough I received my cancer diagnosis 1 year later. Between that and the loss of my father and 15 yr old cat during chemo I feel like I have been sucker punched in the stomach so many times I can hardly take a breath before the next blow comes. I wish you the very best with the publication of your book and tremendous success.

    • Nancy

      March 12, 2014

      Karin, I’m sorry about all you’ve been going through lately. It’s an awful lot. I’ll enter you in the giveaway. Good luck with things.

  • EAK13

    March 12, 2014

    Sounds like a book I’d like to read. I am tired of the over romanticized versions how Cancer changed their world for the better etc etc etc…. I have always called a mastectomy just what it is An Amputation….. Attitudes have become hum drum with some that it’s no big deal….. In and out the same day easy peasy…. I tell those easy peasy types try having a body part cut off removed then say just how easy it really was….love to read the book… Love Alli……xx

    • Nancy

      March 12, 2014

      Alli, I know what you mean… I think you would enjoy this book. I was pleasantly surprised by it. And yes, amputation is a more accurate description IMO too. Thanks for commenting and entering my giveaway. xx

  • Meg

    March 13, 2014

    3 1/2 years past bc diagnosis I still find things to learn as I deal with life! I would like to add this book to my library.

    • Nancy

      March 14, 2014

      Meg, Yes, there’s always more to learn for sure. Thanks for entering my giveaway. You’re in!

  • Sue W.

    March 14, 2014

    Nancy, I have been a reader for a very long time, but this is my first response. I am a fellow Wisconsinite (central WI) and 7 year survivor. I am recently retired and would like to add the book to my list of books to read. Keep up the wonderful work you do–I so respect your thoughts and comments.

    • Nancy

      March 14, 2014

      Sue, How lovely to know you’ve been reading for a while. Thank you! I will add your name in my drawing then. Good luck. And enjoy retirement!

  • Jennie

    March 15, 2014

    I can not wait to read it. Tried to purchase on Madhulika Sikka’s website but keeps refreshing when i click the buy button. Will send her an email to see what the issue is.

    Thanks for the post :)

    • Nancy

      March 15, 2014

      Jennie, The book is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble if you can’t get the link on the author’s site to work. If you don’t win that is! Good luck!

  • Annette

    March 16, 2014

    Sound like a fresh take on this horrid affliction, been cut, chemo-ed and and beating this beast for 4 years now, with 3 mets. I read all I can, this looks great!

    • Nancy

      March 16, 2014

      Annette, I read all I can too. You’re in! Good luck!

  • I quite like the name and the cover. Your review makes it sound bite size and refreshing. At this point, I don’t need to be in the draw, but for someone going through all those emotional shockwaves of diagnosis and treatment, I hope this book helps. ~Catherine

    • Nancy

      March 16, 2014

      Catherine, Thanks for reading my review and commenting despite opting out of the giveaway. Always appreciate your thoughts.

  • Judy Fox

    March 16, 2014

    Always looking for more resources. I am a previvor, who has undergone preventative surgeries.

    • Nancy

      March 16, 2014

      Judy, A person can’t have too many resources. Thanks for reading and entering the drawing.

  • Madhulika Sikka

    March 18, 2014

    Nancy, thank you for your wonderful review. I am so glad that my book has resonated with many and I look forward to hearing from more folks. Also interested in people’s own alphabet, they can submit to http://www.abreastcanceralphabet.tumblr.com
    I think for some A might well be for amputation.
    Thanks again.
    Best, Madhulika

    • Nancy

      March 18, 2014

      Madhulika, Thanks for writing your book! And thank you for reading my review and for taking time to comment. I’m glad you liked it. I think you’re right about that “a” word choice. Amputation was certainly one of my top choices. It’s interesting to read the different perspectives out there isn’t it? I always appreciate hearing viewpoints of others, even when they’re quite different from my own. Thanks again for stopping by. Good luck with the book!

  • Beth Gainer

    March 28, 2014

    Nancy,

    Sounds like a really interesting book! I agree that a mastectomy is an amputation.

    • Nancy

      March 28, 2014

      Beth, Once again, we are of like minds. xx

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