When Your Life is Touched by Cancer
Practical Advice and Insights for Patients, Professionals and Those Who Care
by Bob Riter
The first few days following a cancer diagnosis are like riding on top of a speeding train. You're hanging on for dear life and can't quite see what's ahead. In this book, author Bob Riter helps people sort out many of the issues involved with a cancer diagnosis, with a particular focus on conversations about cancer with friends, family, and doctors.
When Your Life Is Touched by Cancer gently and insightfully addresses the issues that accompany a cancer diagnosis, especially those we think about, but hesitate to bring up. Is it OK to refuse treatment? How old is too old to treat cancer? Is alternative medicine worth pursuing? It is important for those with cancer to figure out what makes sense for them and then to communicate those wishes to loved ones and physicians.
The advice in this book is practical and accessible and Bob Riter is careful never to be pushy, because he knows that the best path through cancer is different for each individual. 1.6 million individuals are diagnosed with cancer each year, and there are 12 million people alive today who have been diagnosed with cancer and each of them has dealt with the disease in his or her own personal way. Bob won't tell you what the best path is, but he will teach you how to find it for yourself. He found his own path through cancer, and he's supported countless others on their paths. The stories, experiences, tips, and advice collected in this book are grounded in the author’s personal experiences as a cancer survivor and his work as the Executive Director of the Cancer Resource Center of the Finger Lakes where he’s worked with thousands of people affected by cancer.
The book began as a popular column in the Ithaca Journal. Readers regularly reported clipping the columns to send to loved ones across the country or to post on their own refrigerators as a starting point for conversations at their dinner tables. Now, for the first time, these refreshingly brief and readily accessible pieces are available all together, perfect for browsing, organized into sections that follow the cancer-patient experience.
This collection addresses an array of topics reaching from the diagnosis of cancer, through its treatment, and the still difficult period when treatment ends. It provides advice on breaking the news to parents and children, including tips on what to say and what not say. It also examines being single with cancer, nontraditional cancer therapies, the after-treatment blahs, and cancer as a chronic disease. It will help patients and their caregivers with the often difficult process of separating what can be done from what should be done – sometimes the most aggressive treatment is the best option for a patient, sometimes it isn't. Bob Riter weighs the potential benefits and risks of all types of treatment.
When Your Life Is Touched by Cancer is also a resource for everyone who cares about or for a cancer patient and wants to learn more ways to support (and respect the wishes of) their loved ones while dealing with their own complex emotions. The book covers advocating for a loved one, talking about hospice care, and survivor's guilt. And doctors can also benefit from reading this advice, gaining another perspective on the cancer experience and thoughtful insight on doctor-patient interactions.
Sympathetic and clear, When Your Life Is Touched by Cancer is the perfect place to turn to in a moment of crisis. It provides both comfort in the moment and tools to move forward. It will help you figure out what you want and empower you to go get it.
All proceeds from When Your Life is Touched by Cancer are being donated to the Cancer Resource Center of the Finger Lakes.
REVIEWS AND TESTIMONIALS
". . .Reading Bob Riter's wonderful book triggers that vivid CancerLand moment before I headed down the hall for the first time to my designated turquoise barcalounger in the Chemo Suite. Why? Maybe because it reminds me how important it is that patients in a health crisis receive information that is clear and helpful, sensitively written and practical in nature."
— Alysa Cummings, cancer survivor and author of Greetings From Cancerland
"Riter's uniquely smart-but-folksy voice works well when tackling straightforward issues like blood donations or complex, existential issues like the nature of hope after cancer. . . .If you are looking for a gift to give people whose lives are touched by cancer, When Your Life is Touched by Cancer is just what the doctor ordered."
— Dr. Wendy Harpham, M.D., cancer survivor, and author of When a Parent Has Cancer: A Guide to Caring for Your Children
“There is a practical wisdom to the way Bob address the issues. The columns contain ideas for maximizing comfort, both physical and emotional. And they reflect some of the struggles and victories of living with this potentially life-threatening illness. The writing is characterized by empathy grounded in realism; there is no false reassurance, nor is there deep pessimism. Instead there is a gentle reminder of the value of every day of our lives, and a reminder to people with cancer that they are not alone.”
- Nina Miller, retired hospice director
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Talking About Your Cancer
Your Health-Care Team
Caring For Yourself During Treatment
Cancer and Relationships
Reflections on the Cancer Experience
Supporting Others with Cancer
PUBLICATION DATE: January 2014
SIZE: 5 1/2 x 8 1/2
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bob Riter is the Executive Director of the Cancer Resource Center of the Finger Lakes in Ithaca, NY, an organization that provides support, information, and community to people affected by cancer. His involvement in the cancer community began in 1996 when he was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 40. Bob writes about cancer from a variety of perspectives in his column for the Ithaca Journal and his essays have appeared in Newsweek and CR Magazine. He routinely speaks to college classes, civic organizations, and professional groups about the human side of cancer.
A native of Huntington, West Virginia, Bob received a master's degree in health services administration from the University of Michigan. He is currently a member of the New York State Health Research Science Board, and was the winner of the 2006 Innovation in Breast Cancer Research and Education Award in the health professional category from the New York State Innovation in Breast Cancer Research and Education Program.