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Now What? A Patient's Guide to Recovery After Mastectomy

Personal Stories, Resources, and Practical Advice From Survivors

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating


Updated April 23, 2012

Now What? by Amy Curran Baker

Now What? by Amy Curran Baker

Photo © Demos Health, New York
The Curran sisters have a strong family history of breast cancer and two of them have gone through double mastectomies. Amy Curran Baker and her sisters wrote "Now What?" about surviving and recovering from a mastectomy. From their personal and professional experiences, they give different perspectives on decisions, self-care, emotional turmoil, and recovery from a mastectomy. "Now What?" is a very practical book full of survivor stories, resources and dependable advice for mastectomy patients.

Quick Look

  • Written from several survivors' viewpoints
  • Language is accessible, non-medical, easy to understand
  • Nonjudgmental, no agenda is pushed on the reader
  • Well formatted, easy to use information
  • Great resources and practical checklists
  • No advice on how to make surgical decision (lumpectomy vs. mastectomy)

Guide Review - Now What? A Patient's Guide to Recovery After Mastectomy

Amy Curran Baker helped her sister Linda recover from a prophylactic double mastectomy. The Curran family knew that they had a strong family history of breast cancer, and Linda - a new mother - wanted to do all that she could to lower her personal risk. Their mother, grandmother, and an aunt had all had fought breast cancer, so the sisters knew that being vigilant about their breast health took a high priority.

About six weeks after Linda's recovery, Amy went for a routine mammogram, was advised to have a breast biopsy, and found that, at age 39, she had developed early stage invasive breast cancer. After weighing her decisions with her personal risk factors, she had a double mastectomy with immediate reconstruction. In her book "Now What?" Amy and her sisters tell their own stories briefly, and focus on the practical details of getting through the barrage of decisions and details that come with a breast cancer diagnosis. If that path leads to a mastectomy, then this book will provide excellent practical advice for preparing for every step of the process.

This book is one to keep with you as you prepare for surgery, consider reconstruction (or not), recover from surgery, and move on into follow-up care. The authors share a good list of questions to ask your surgeon, practical checklists for home recovery, and a very honest section devoted to dealing with the range of emotions that mastectomy can bring. Other voices of survivors are included, giving their personal stories and insight. Readers and easily see that the Curran sisters know that there is no "one-size fits-all solution" to recovery from a unilateral or bilateral mastectomy. They have talked to previvors as well as survivors, and aimed to cover complications, physical recovery, and emotional acceptance.

Even though this is a relatively short book at 192 pages, it is packed from start to finish with information that you can put to use: resources, glossary, book list, forms to log drain fluids and medications. The book is well formatted, making it easy to flip through and pick out the advice that you need quickly. A good index allows you to reference terms and information with very little work. I would recommend this book for newly diagnosed patients, who are very likely to pass it along to others for their benefit.

Who Should Buy This Book

"Now What?" was written for anyone who may be facing a mastectomy or who wants to be supportive of someone who has recently been diagnosed with breast cancer. Amy Curran Baker and her sisters write, "Much of what you will read here will apply to all mastectomy patients, whether choosing to undergo reconstruction or not. Everyone's experience will differ slightly depending upon individual choices and circumstances." Patients, family members, and friends will find explanations and advice written in clear, concise terms that are backed by medical expertise and balanced with resources. This is a highly practical book with heartfelt encouragement.

Book Description

Author:Amy Curran Baker

Publisher: Demos Health

ISBN 13: 9781936303250

Published: December 2011

List Price: $16.95

Ebook: Kindle $9.63, Google eBook $9.99

Book Details: Paperback, 192 pages

About the Authors

Amy Curran Baker is an Occupational Therapist with 14 years of experience. Marybeth Curran Brown, RN, has 20 years of nursing to her credit, with an interest in oncology. Linda Curran, MSN, APRN, has worked for 9 years in women's health and has focused on hereditary cancer syndromes.
Disclosure: A review copy was kindly provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
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