How families can face cancer with confidence and hope-a book review

Together they wrote this book to help cancer patients navigate the journey with both personal and professional guidance. Joining them are other families dealing with cancer who candidly share their experiences and what they have learned along the way, both positive and negative.

After You Hear It’s Cancer

A Guide to Navigating the Difficult Journey Ahead

By John Leifer with Lori Lindstrom Leifer, MD

Dr. Lori Leifer, a radiation oncologist, was well qualified to author a book about cancer. As a physician who treats cancer with radiation, she has extensive training and experience managing patients diagnosed with this devastating disease.

(Note: the photos and graphics are for illustration and are not associated with the book. The book links are affiliate links for possible compensation to this blog.)

But her professional expertise expanded to a new level when she found a lump that turned out to be cancer. Then she and her husband John faced the daunting task of confronting cancer as a patient and patient’s spouse.

chance of developing breast cancer by age 70-National Cancer Institute
Source: National Cancer Institute (NCI)

They turned this life changing experience into another chance to help the people she has spent her career caring for. Together they wrote this book offering personal and professional guidance to help cancer patients navigate the journey. Joining them are other families dealing with cancer who candidly share their experiences and what they have learned along the way, both positive and negative.

Cancer- the difficult journey

Their guidance follows the same journey cancer patients follow. First there is a diagnosis, followed by treatment option review and planning . Then there is the active treatment phase which may involve some combination of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.

Finally, there is life after the treatments. Each phase has its own issues to navigate, which they explain with advice that is specific and understandable.

A mammography on left and a Magnetic resonance image (MRI) on right. Breast imaging technology has changed over the years. Note MRI’s enhancement ability to confirm diagnosis.
Mitchell D. Schnall, M.D., Ph.D. University Of Pennsylvania
Creator:Unknown Photographer, Public domain

Navigating the journey

In part I, Diagnosis and Treatment Planning, they review how doctors diagnose and stage cancer, and how that influences treatment. They discuss when and why to get a second opinion, how genetic testing can help, selecting doctors and facilities, and considering a clinical trial.

This image shows a triple-negative breast cancer cell (MDA-MB-231) in metaphase during cell division. Tubulin in red; mitochondria in green; chromosomes in blue. A better understanding of how mitochondria play roles in tumor cell division may provide new therapeutic targeting strategies to stop tumor cell growth.National Cancer Institute \ Univ. of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute
Creator:Wei Qian-public domain

Part II, During Active Treatment, they advise on the practical aspects of paying for cancer care and how caregivers fit into the treatment plan. Other vital topics include pain control, managing side effects, and the importance of nutrition and exercise. They also review why and why not to consider complementary therapies.

There are different subtypes of women’s breast cancer. Knowing which subtype is important for guiding treatment and predicting survival. This graphic was created for the Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, 1975-2011, published in 2015. Source:
National Cancer Institute (NCI), public domain

And in part III, After Initial Treatments Are Over, they acknowledge the challenge of cancer survivors, and what to consider when treatment is not effective. Sometimes patients and families must face “difficult decisions,” with guidance on when to stop curative treatment and use hospice care.


All along the way the Leifers advise readers to “ask questions” and each section concludes with a list of specific questions to ask.

The book ends with a list of Resources such as advocacy and support groups, websites on cancer treatment and research, foundations and other nonprofits, government websites, and professional associations.

Some of these are

Recommended for “those who hear its cancer”, their families, and friends

I recommend this book to any families currently navigating this “difficult journey.” Others wanting to understand and support friends and co-workers with cancer will find the advice useful.

Since cancer is common and likely to strike any family, everyone should consider reading it proactively. Finally, this general approach to diagnosing, treating, and living with a serious illness can be applied to other diseases that are potentially life threatening.

Read the Prologue here.

About the authors

I received a complimentary digital copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a review. The book was published in 2015 by Rowman and Littlefield.

You’ll be happy to know Dr. Lindstrom is still practicing at the University of Kansas Cancer Center; listen to her discuss her approach to cancer care .

John Leifer is a senior health care executive, consultant, academic, and writer, including four novels. He is also an accomplished photographer.

“In this chilling prequel to 8 Seconds to Midnight, the most devastating terrorist attack ever recorded on American soil begins and ends without spilling a single drop of blood. Four jihadists, armed with nothing more than a briefcase and a pen, walk nonchalantly through the country’s busiest airports, killing time and killing people. A deadly mist, laden with a universally lethal virus, trails close behind them. Their goal: foment a global pandemic. Their vision: Armageddon, where only the Chosen Ones – those loyal to the United Islamic State – survive. The job of stopping them falls squarely on the shoulders of one man, Commander John Hart, but will he be in time?” (Amazon links and promo text)

exploring the HEART of health

I thank NetGalley and the publishers for asking me to review this book, and especially the Leifers for sharing their story.

The Leifers’ books are also available from Visit my online shop at this link. is an online bookstore with a mission to financially support local, independent bookstores. They believe bookstores are essential to a healthy culture and they are dedicated to the common good. donates a portion of every sale to independent bookstores.

Celebrating Life after Cancer

Celebration of Life Mural-The mural was created to honor those surviving the disease of cancer. The mural’s tiles are inscribed by cancer survivors and represent the continuous flow of life.

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