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Jimmie C. Holland and Sheldon Lewis

New York, 2000, Harper Collins Publishers (http://www.humansideofcancer.com/)

340 pages $ 17.50

Review by Francisco Gil, Chief, Psycho-Oncology Unit, Institut Català d´Oncologia

Barcelona. Spain


Jimmie C. Holland, chairperson of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City and professor of psychiatry at Weill Medical College of Cornell University, and Sheldon Lewis, journalist interested and committed to the human side of health, are the authors of this book. For more than twenty years, Dr. Holland has pioneered the study of psychological problems of cancer patients and their families. In the Human Side of Cancer, Jimmie C. Holland, M.D., describes the human reaction of the patients and their relatives when they have to cope with the diagnosis of cancer. The book consists of sixteen chapters. The first four chapters describe the importance of considering the human side of cancer and the mind-body connection with cancer. The fifth chapter considers the need for patients, relatives and medical staff to work together to decide the best approach and treatment in the decision making process in Oncology. Chapter six covers the importance of coping, how the patients cope with the diagnosis and how the treatment influences their well-being. Chapters seven and eigh connect the human side of cancer with the treatments and with specific cancer types. The possible psychological treatments (counselling, group psychotherapy, etc), and their benefits, are included in chapter nine. Aspects about alternative and complementary therapies are discussed in chapter ten. The next two chapters, 11 and 12, describe how the patients feel and react after being cured and the resources that they have to continue being healthy. Chapters thirteen and fourteen describe the emotional feeling of the patients after being informed about the recurrence of the cancer or the progressioj of the the illness. How the relatives of the patients react after the diagnosis of cancer is considered in chapter fifthteen and in the last chapter, chapter 16, the authors describe the emotional reactions of the relatives before and after the death of their loved one, and the ensuing psychological consequences.

In summary, this book provides practical and compassionate guidance for dealing with a diagnosis of cancer and its uncertainties, the social myths and beliefs that may make coping more difficult, the issue of cancer treatment and its aftermath, life after a cancer cure, illness when comfort replaces cure as the goal and issues for families, including grief.

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