What do you get when a psychologist gets breast cancer?

Living with the Long-Term Effects of CancerAt last, we get a book that contests the assumption that, after cancer treatment, we will simply ‘get better’ or ‘move on’.

The book, ‘Living with the long-term effects of Cancer’ is written by a psychologist, honestly admitting that emotional and physical side-effects post-cancer treatment can worsen over time.

Those of us living with and beyond cancer often endure a mismatch between expectations and reality; we are told that life would be easier than it actually is. So hurrah for Doctor Cordelia Galgut, who has the courage to admit that anyone post-cancer can find themselves “confused and unprepared”, as she admits in her book ‘Living with the long-term effects of Cancer’.

Galgut focusses on both sides

Written from a dual perspective- that of a psychologist who had breast cancer and who coped with the long-term effects of treatment – the book contests the assumption that the afflicted person will simply ‘get better’ or ‘move through’ to a better situation.  As I read through the book, I kept on nodding and empathising – she tells it how it is.

As she admits, emotional and physical side-effects can worsen over time, and people living beyond or with cancer often endure a mismatch between expectations and reality, because “they have been told that life would be easier than it actually is”  Oh boy! I well remember telling my surgeon that I hadn’t been told to expect nasty side effects, like my skin peeling off in sheets, nor my bones crumbling with osteoporosis, etc.

“Well, you are alive”, was his helpful reply.

Moving on

Comments like this can leave both those suffering longer and short term confused and unprepared. But the book contests the assumption that we will simply ‘get better’ or ‘move through’ to a better situation. Emotional and physical side-effects can worsen over time, and people living with or beyond cancer often endure a mismatch between expectations and reality, because they have been told that life would be easier than it actually is. This can leave both those suffering longer-term and those close to them confused and unprepared.

How to ‘use’ this book

I have made so many notes, reading the book, that it looks like it has developed a severe case of measles.  But the beauty of the book is that Dr. Galgut used medical language, albeit in easy-to-understand-form, so the reader can grab sentences from the copy and drop them into official letters, and use these when you write a letter about your treatment.  There are lots of phrases to use that spring out from the pages, and after all – this is written by a mental health professional, so they gather their arguments in a professional rather than an emotive way.

Read it to reassure yourself you are NOT making a fuss.  Here is a medical professsional who has experiencd the ‘other’ side, and is honest enough to admit there is a lot wrong with the way cancer patients can be treated.  As I read it, I was nodding to myself in agreement – here was someone who had experiened the same problems as I had.

Living with the long-term effects of Cancer   Published by Jessica Kingsley    £12.99

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