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“Navigating the C: A Nurse Charts the Course for Cancer Survivorship” by Alene Nitzky – A Review & Giveaway!

I am pleased to tell you, my dear readers, about the new book, Navigating the C: A Nurse Charts the Course for Cancer Survivorship Care, by my online friend, Alene Nitzky, Ph.D., RN, OCN. Blue Bayou Press LCC, 2018. 121 pages, plus a 66 page Appendix. I’ve been a fan of Alene Nitzky’s work for a number of years. Without a doubt, she knows a lot about the delivery of healthcare, specifically, oncology care.

Navigating the C, is an eye-opening read as Nitzky doesn’t hesitate to offer her observations and experience-based opinions about what is wrong, as well as what is right, with healthcare delivery for today’s cancer patients. Her unflinching critique of the state of healthcare in the US sends a strong message that much needs to change. As she succinctly states:

Healthcare is as sick as the people who come to it.

Navigating the C presents sensible solutions to some of the glaring problems.

Nitzky’s varied experiences as an educator, doctoral student, exercise trainer for people with chronic health conditions, business owner, patient, caregiver, athlete, writer, advocate and oncology nurse all help bring to her writing a wide array of valuable insights that are highly relevant to the topic of improving care for anyone diagnosed with cancer, regardless of type or stage.

Nitzky’s goal is to present a different approach to how we all think about cancer survivorship care. She states her intention in writing this book as the following:

I aim to unite all stakeholders in healthcare to build a system that improves health, quality of life and outcomes around cancer survivorship, while reducing healthcare costs.

A lofty, but as Nitzky explains throughout the book, achievable goal.

Throughout the book, the acronym C.A.R.E. is presented and discussed as a sensible and necessary component to achieving this goal. C.A.R.E. stands for creativity, authenticity, resourcefulness and empathy. As Nitzky stresses, if we implement these four things at all levels of the healthcare system, we will be far more effective and waste less.

Makes sense in a lot of areas of life, don’t you agree?

Navigating the C is a direct challenge to all involved in healthcare, which ultimately, is every single one of us. As Nitzky reminds us, nearly 40 percent of the population will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives. Based on this fact, she reasonably asks:

Shouldn’t we be preparing people for this prevalent condition?…We do think about cancer often because we are constantly reminded of it – except we think it happens to someone else.

Reading this book helps anyone be more prepared to handle a life-altering cancer diagnosis, or if already diagnosed, how to better cope, heal and self-advocate.

Nitzky suggests that for all of us, the best place to begin is by reflecting upon and defining our own values around health, life, healthcare and mortality. This helps provide clarity on what is important to each of us regarding quality of life, healthcare goals now and in the future and end-of-life issues, among other things.

Speaking as an experienced oncology nurse who has witnessed it all, Nitzky exposes the often extremely difficult work environments and conditions that nurses and other providers face on a daily basis. She reminds nurses to more deeply value their unique, critical role in patient care delivery and encourages them to advocate more fervently for themselves, as well as for their patients.

What I love most about this book is that Nitzky not only points out specific areas in need of change within the present healthcare system, she also offers solutions and specific calls to action for how administrators, physicians, nurses and other care providers can rework the system to better support one another, which will in turn, better support patients. Ultimately, better supported patients, along with hopefully better outcomes, is what we all want.

As the title suggests, the focus of the book is helping patients navigate cancer survivorship (regardless of stage), no easy task as you, my dear readers, know all too well.

Among other things, specific to cancer patients, the book addresses the following:

  • Realizing that recovery is a process, regardless of stage
  • The importance of physical activity, nutrition, weight control and health behaviors to reduce risk of recurrence
  • Self-care and restoration
  • Mental and emotional health, communication and support, facing fears and clarifying values
  • Self-advocacy
  • Questions to ask your doctor when diagnosed
  • Coping with anxiety
  • Survivorship care plans
  • Addressing post-treatment concerns such as fatigue, cognitive impairment, late effects, loss of support and more

Again, specific patient-driven solutions with calls to action are suggested for both patients and caregivers to help improve YOUR cancer care, or that of your loved one.

The final 66 pages of Navigating the C make up the Appendix, which might be my favorite part of the entire book. This section is a sampling of the curriculum Nitzky developed for  her empowering online program, Cancer Harbors®. Nitzky also explains her successful FIERCE® (Functional+Fit, Independent, Energized, Confident, Empowered) program which she started in her community. FIERCE is for cancer survivors and strives to help them increase enjoyment of physical activity and movement in an encouraging, supportive environment. Nitzky is a firm believer in the importance of community involvement in supporting healthy living and healthcare.

So yes, there’s a lot ground covered in Navigating the C. I merely scratched the surface!

There is something for everyone in this book, whether you are a patient, caregiver, physician, nurse, specialist, healthcare administrator – or any sort of living, breathing person.

Summing up, Navigating the C is a call to action for all of us to take better care of ourselves and also of one another. Community matters. Striving for healthier living (regardless of your present state) and healthcare for all matter.

As Nitzky says:

We’re all in the boat. Now we must raise our anchors, steer toward calmer waters and find a tailwind. I hope you’ll sail with me.

I’m in.

What about you?

About the author:  

Alene with her two Australian Shepherd

Alene with her two Australian Shepherds

Alene Nitzky, Ph.D., is a Registered Nurse certified in Oncology and CEO/Founder of Sunspirit Wellness Services, LLC. Prior to nursing, she taught exercise science and was a personal trainer for adults with chronic health conditions. A certified Health Coach and Cancer Exercise Trainer, ultra-endurance runner and pastel artist, she lives in Fort Collins, Colorado with her husband and their two Australian Shepherds.

If you would like a chance to win a FREE, autographed copy of Navigating the C, leave a comment below saying so by 5 pm CDT, Tuesday, March 27th and you’ll be entered in my giveaway! A winner will be announced here on this post shortly thereafter. A US mailing address is required. 

Why do you want to read this book?

If applicable and regardless of cancer stage, what is one of your biggest challenges post-cancer diagnosis?

Do have a question for Alene?

Winners! Leta was the newsletter winner and LeeAnn was the blog winner. Congrats, ladies! Thank you to everyone who participated!

Become part of my inner circle! Keeping it real. Support you can use.


Navigating the C: - a review & giveaway!

Beth L. Gainer

Saturday 19th of May 2018

Alene, I'm proud of you for getting this much-needed book out there. So many people will benefit from it. :)

Tanya T

Monday 26th of March 2018

I am eager to read Arlene’s book. I’m approaching my one-year anniversary of my ovarian cancer diagnosis. The full emotional weight of last year’s events didn’t hit me until I was post treatment and, I thought, happily dancing with NED —but returning to the demands of the work I left for seven months while undergoing chemo and surgery has been overwhelming. With work stress affecting my sleep, physical stamina, and overall well-being, I could use some guidance on coming to terms with my “new normal”, which includes some subtle cognitive changes that impact my life in and out of work

Alene Nitzky

Monday 26th of March 2018

Tanya, yes I think this book would give you some guidance on many issues you are facing in trying to return to life as it have changed but the world around you often expects that you go on the way you were before. You might also check out some of my posts on Karen Ingalls' Outshine Ovarian Cancer blog about issues specific to ovarian cancer survivors' needs. Feel free to reach out for support!

Cassy Dickerson

Thursday 22nd of March 2018

I would like a chance to win a copy of this book. Sounds exactly like something I could use right now in this early stage of recovery. I am looking for pointers on how to navigate what’s next and what’s to come. I want to make sure I’ve asked the right questions and an getting the best follow up care. This book sounds like something that would be helpful.

Alene Nitzky

Thursday 22nd of March 2018

Cassy, the book contains a lot of ideas for talking with your doctor and other healthcare professionals, as well as a list of questions- many of which you can ask at follow up appointments. Best to you in your recovery. Alene

joan harrington

Thursday 22nd of March 2018

It sounds like a book I could have used all through my diagnosis and treatment time, and one that would be really helpful now too.

Alene Nitzky

Thursday 22nd of March 2018

Thank you, Joan, I hope you'll read it. It is for after treatment and can be shared with those who have never had cancer, too!


Wednesday 21st of March 2018

I'd love to read this book! My experience with cancer survivorship care is that it's more aspirational (if that) than anything else. And even the guidelines are extremely clinical and (probably) devised without input from actual survivors. Thus, anything that might help navigate life after treatment would be welcome.

I will add just one pet peeve - could someone just ONCE address health-enhancing actions without using the terms "behavior" and/or "lifestyle changes?" "Behavior" sounds as if they're chiding a recalcitrant group of eight-year olds and "lifestyle CHANGES" implies that if only we had exercised more or eaten differently we wouldn't have burdened the system with our cancer diagnosis. And frankly, neither term is very positive, in my mind. End of rant!

Thanks for bringing this book to our attention, Nancy.



Friday 23rd of March 2018

Julia, Your pet peeve is spot on and worthy of a blog post some day. Can I quote you on that? :)

Alene Nitzky

Thursday 22nd of March 2018

Julia! Thank you for your candor in expressing your pet peeve! I am smiling ear to ear. You are so right to point that out. Yes, healthcare is traditionally paternalistic and does tend to talk down to the patient. I have critiqued the survivorship care plan model in the book and touched on topics such as this. Scientists tend to use "behavior" and "lifestyle" when they are talking about things that they think the patient should have control over, but that's a very big assumption, since so many cancers happen as a result of mutations that we don't yet have the ability to associate with any particular cause (and we might never!). Even scientists get caught up in talking about general "risk factors" and forget that risk in a population is very different than individual likelihood of developing cancer. My solution for this is to continue to make headway in getting patient voices in front of clinicians and researchers, so they can see the real human beings they are making those assumptions about! Patient voices at medical and research conferences are needed! We cannot allow science to sit on a shelf occupying space in some library or storage bytes in some technology storage unit somewhere. I talk about this in the book too- it needs to be real, patient anecdotes need to be heard! I hope you'll read the book and good luck in the giveaway! Alene

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