Caring for Cynthia: A Caregiver’s Journey Through Breast Cancer
A Photographic Essay
by Amy Blackburn, RN, BSN, MA
A phone call in 2005 changed Cynthia Ogden’s life forever—she was told she had breast cancer. That evening Cynthia went to the house of her best friend, Amy Blackburn, a registered nurse and photographer, to tell her about the diagnosis. As Cynthia shared her devastating news, she asked her friend to photograph her the way she looked that night. This was the beginning of a project and partnership neither woman anticipated.
Caring for Cynthia chronicles the journey of Amy Blackburn’s friend, Cynthia Ogden, MD, after she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Amy admits to taking photos for reasons unknown. About six months into it, she discovered that it could be her story—a caregiver’s story.
Although both are medical professionals, Amy and Cynthia were thrown into emotional chaos by the sudden diagnosis. They felt the best way to deal with the stress was to photograph each individual experience.
“The role of the support provider is crucial and critical. Their eyes see what the patient can’t see because of weakness, sickness, or being emotionally drained,” says Blackburn. “Caregivers have to be strong and must be present to the experience.”
Blackburn’s book portrays, both in images and words, the pain, the helplessness, the support and the love that breast cancer patients and their caretakers encounter. The subject matter is handled with sensitivity, compassion, and honesty. This book is invaluable for caregivers and survivors. It’s a “must read” for anyone that has been personally impacted by breast cancer.
A Graphic Look at Cancer
Cancer Made Me a Shallower Person:
A Memoir in Comics
by Miriam Engelberg
Miriam Engelberg, a 43-year old wife and mother, found comfort in creating a journal in comic form. The author/illustrator began her book in 2001, before her suspicious mammogram turned out to be breast cancer—before her cancer metastasized to her brain.
Engelberg draws the reader in, like an old friend, before confessing her deepest fears. She describes herself as neurotic and afraid of death. —and backs that up with riveting narrative. Her unique mixture of art and dialogue provides a direct injection into the reader’s brain. The black and white sketches are primitive with quirky dialogue and captions that keep the pages turning. Engelberg has a knack for turning her scariest experiences into bittersweet, touching, humorous adventures.
The author takes the reader on a journey, hitting on just about every cancer-related subject along the way: the nosy questions of well-meaning friends, losing one’s hair, gaining weight on account of treatment, lack of sexual desire, nausea, and her obsessing over what she might have done to bring on her illness. She over-analyzes everything, such as, ‘what did I eat or drink that might have caused the cancer? ‘is it OK to play the cancer card with telemarketers?’ Engelberg makes a point that there should be a “line of breast cancer t-shirts to cut to the chase.” It would save people from staring at your chest as they try to figure out which breast had the cancer.
This book is a ‘must read’ for nurses, doctors, women diagnosed with breast cancer, their families and friends. Engelberg admits to writing the book more for her own sanity than for other people’s comfort, but then adds, “I love having people connect with my comics because it makes me feel less alone.” Thank you, Miriam, for your insight into doctors, treatments, and support groups and most of all for your unfailing optimism and sense of humor.
The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses:
Practical Advice for Thriving at Every Stage of Your Career
by: Donna Wilk Cardillo, RN, MA
Success is being happy, fulfilled, inspired, enthusiastic, and always growing while keeping a sense of passion and purpose.
- Donna Cardillo, RN, MA
Donna Cardillo, best known as “Dear Donna” and the guru of career development for nurses, has devoted the past 14 years to the study and promotion of what makes nurses successful. The ULTIMATE Career Guide for Nurses provides practical advice and strategies for the novice to the most experienced clinician. This comprehensive guide, full of wisdom, insights, and resources, explores ways to grow and develop as a nurse.
With her customary straight talk and humorous style, the author awakens nurses to a wide range of opportunities available. Cardillo, who has 30 plus years of nursing, offers nurses ways to reenergize their nursing career by getting the most out of their current job, discovering and developing unique talents, identifying skill assets, and reaching one’s highest potential.
This is a must-read for nursing students, new grads, and experienced nurses. Whether you need guidance on overcoming challenges, creating a professional image, writing a winning resume, interviewing like a pro, or you just want to explore interesting career options, Cardillo supplies the building blocks for obtaining a life-long satisfying career in nursing.
Gannett Healthcare Group
The Nurse’s Etiquette Advantage
by Kathleen D. Pagana, PhD, RN
Etiquette, sometimes a stuffy subject, has suddenly become fun. The Nurse’s Etiquette Advantage is about developing personal relationships in all types of settings. Whether you’re a nurse caring for a patient, networking at a conference, or interviewing for a nursing position, professional etiquette can help you initiate new relationships, enhance established relationships, and guide you in unfamiliar situations.
Pagana, a nurse, educator, and consultant, provides essential etiquette skills needed for nurses in every stage of their career. The author uses real-life situations, questions and answers, illustrations and sidebars to focus on personal questions of interest, such as proper hand shakes, how to get a job and keep a job, writing thank you notes and letters, business card etiquette, professional use of e-mail, and one’s professional image.
The book provides straightforward and practical information to navigate its readers’ through awkward and challenging situations. Proper etiquette, according to Pagana, isn’t an option when it comes to building one’s career, but instead a recipe for professional success. Nursing students are taught how to apply for jobs,” says Pagana, “but they don’t learn those essential etiquette skills needed for career success.”
Sigma Theta Tau International
Honor Society of Nursing
Forgetting: When to Worry, What to Do
by Joan Carson Breitung, RN, MSN
Life expectancy in America is at an all-time high with the average person living approximately 77.8 years. Although medical science has improved our health and extended our lives, the blessings of advanced age have also created a number of specific health risks. Age is the number one risk factor for dementia and forgetting is the first worrisome sign.
Joan Breitung, an expert of the mental health of the elderly, clarifies the difference in normal brain aging and the onset of dementia in her newest book, Forgetting. This informative, user-friendly guide defines the various types of memory problems with straightforward explanations and remedies, along with some that are complex and ominous.
Forgetting includes a goldmine of information from mild cognitive impairment and late-life depression to the challenges of caregivers, to Alzheimer’s disease, and prevention strategies for falls. It’s a book for any nurse or caregiver who wants a clearer understanding of specific memory problems that develop as one ages.
Replacing guns with pencils, rhetoric with reading
Three Cups of Tea:
One Man’s Mission to Fight Terrorism and Build Nations…
One School at a Time
by Greg Mortenson
and David Oliver Relin
Fighting terror with books is something Greg Mortenson, a former emergency nurse and top-flight mountaineer, believes in. It starts out like any story, “One day in 1993, Mortenson wondered lost and alone after a failed attempt to climb Pakistan’s K2, the world’s deadliest peak.” But it doesn’t turn out like most stories.
Physically emaciated and emotionally drained, Mortenson was rescued by a group of men from an impoverished village and nursed back to health. It was there that Mortenson made a promise to the people: He would return one day and set up schools for young Muslims—mainly girls—in a remote part of the world. Today, as the director of the nonprofit Central Asia Institute, Mortenson has built fifty-five schools that serve Pakistan and Afghanistan’s poorest communities.
Mortenson’s book, written with the help of award winning journalist David Relin, is a spellbinding account of incredible accomplishments of one man in a region where Americans are feared and sometimes hated. In pursuit of his goal, Mortenson survives an armed kidnapping, repeated death threats, and wrenching separations from his wife and children. Three Cups of Tea is an unforgettable and inspiring story of how one man is changing the world—one school at a time.
Published by the Penguin Group
The Little Diabetes Book You Need to Read
by Michael A. Weiss
Martha M. Funnell, RN, MS
In the United States alone, tens of millions of people are afflicted with diabetes—scores of millions more are directly affected by the disease, either as family members or friends. Despite the overwhelming statistics, little has been published to assist patients with synthesizing complicated information concerning diabetes—until now.
Most diabetic manuals focus on treating the disease instead of addressing the reality of living with the diagnosis of diabetes. The Little Diabetes Book, a compact 250-page guide spotlights the patient, rather than the many facets of the disease. Author Michael Weiss, has lived with Type 1 diabetes for over 20 years. His co-author, Martha M. Funnell, R.N., a diabetic educator since 1983, is recognized as a pioneer in the empowerment approach to diabetes education and care.
The Little Diabetes Book presents strategies that enable the reader to make informed choices when it comes to managing their diabetes. The text is printed in an easy-to-read font in plain, non-medical language for readers on all levels. It’s a “must read” for newly diagnosed patients and those who have struggled with diabetes for years. This book is the ‘missing piece’ in empowering diabetic patients and their families with critical information to manage their lives.
Ending Nurse-to-Nurse Hostility:
Why Nurses Eat Their Young and Each Other
by Kathleen Bartholomew, RN, MN
Ending Nurse-to-Nurse Hostility is a practical and timely book which focuses on assessing and eliminating horizontal violence (sabotage directed at coworkers who are on the same level within an organization’s hierarchy). Bartholomew, a registered nurse and counselor, understands horizontal violence between nurses; she was a manager of a large surgical unit for six years where she witnessed first-hand disruptive nurse-to-nurse relationships.
The author uses the power of story to examine the many facets of disruptive behavior. Her strength lies in her ability to link the academic world with the practical reality of the hospital. This book begins with the origin and nature of mutual violence and negativity, which according to Bartholomew, is characteristic of all oppressed groups. She shares vignettes, anecdotes, assertive training tips, and best practices to assist in eliminating disruptive behavior.
Bartholomew points out that most hostility between nurses is passive-aggressive, and many new nurses witness this when more experienced nurses answer questions abruptly or not at all. But it isn’t just between staff nurses, as the author points out, “the nurse manager is often entangled in a no-win situation—the demands of upper management and the complaints of subordinates.”
This is a must read for nurses in managerial positions and staff nurses wanting to end the cycle of nurse-to-nurse hostility. Bartholomew provides a way for nurses to recognize, deflect, and cope with disruptive behavior—guaranteed to improve the nursing culture at your facility.