Brave Book Club

I have compiled a reading list of recommended to me by friends, family, experts, and fellow previvors.  I still have a lot of reading to do, and if anyone wants to join me, I’d love some company.

One Renegade Cell – “One of the leading cancer researchers in the world, Robert A. Weinberg is perfectly suited to describe the search for cancer’s origins from the early days of this century to the present. Presuming little knowledge of biology, he tells how a cancer-causing virus was first discovered in 1909, how the correlation was made between chemical carcinogens and cancer, and how oncogenes (the genes that can turn a cell malignant) work. He explains clearly how malignant cells send messages to one another and also block the messages of normal cells. Finally, Weinberg predicts that cancer prevention may depend on our ability to understand the mysterious chemical clock that regulates our cells’ most basic functions. One Renegade Cell offers a concise, accessible route into the complex and often daunting world of cancer and cancer research.”

The Immortal Life of Henrietta LacksHer name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells—taken without her knowledge—became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first “immortal” human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years. If you could pile all HeLa cells ever grown onto a scale, they’d weigh more than 50 million metric tons—as much as a hundred Empire State Buildings. HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb’s effects; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions. Yet Henrietta Lacks remains virtually unknown, buried in an unmarked grave. ”

The Emperor of All Maladies – “The Emperor of All Maladies is a magnificent, profoundly humane “biography” of cancer—from its first documented appearances thousands of years ago through the epic battles in the twentieth century to cure, control, and conquer it to a radical new understanding of its essence. Physician, researcher, and award-winning science writer, Siddhartha Mukherjee examines cancer with a cellular biologist’s precision, a historian’s perspective, and a biographer’s passion. The result is an astonishingly lucid and eloquent chronicle of a disease humans have lived with—and perished from—for more than five thousand years.”

Dr. Susan Love’s Breast Book“Dr. Susan Love’s Breast Book has long been the bible for the newly diagnosed. In this completely revised fifth edition, it also becomes a guide for those at risk of getting breast cancer, survivors interested in the consequences of their treatment, and anyone who wants to understand the new research about how the local environment influences the manifestations and treatments of many different kinds of breast cancer. Major advances being made in genetic research today mean that prevention and treatment can work not only to get rid of mutated cells (through chemo or surgery), but also to change the environment around the cells (through hormone therapy, exercise, and stress reduction). Among other promising developments discussed are advances in imaging, recognition of breast density as a risk factor, and a section focused on “personalized medicine” to help determine what kind of cancer you have and how best to treat it.”

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