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Suggested Reading for Caregivers

  • Books with an [*] by their title are available for loan from Dana-Farber's Blum Resource Center.

    Practical caregiving guides


    Cancer Caregiving A to Z: An At-Home Guide for Patients & Families*
    American Cancer Society

    Accessing information is easy in this book, organized in an A-to-Z format for quick referencing. The listings cover a broad range of critical topics and the book includes both checklists and "what-to-do-if" guides.


    Caregiving: A Step-by-Step Resource for Caring for People with Cancer at Home
    Peter S. Houts and Julia A. Bucher

    Turn to this book when you're at a loss as to how to solve a problem, be it managing a side effect of chemotherapy, wrangling with insurance, or trying to shore up a gloomy patient (or yourself). The book includes a six-step plan of action for typical problems caregivers might encounter, as well as a rich list of resources.


    Caregiving: The Spiritual Journey of Love, Loss, and Renewal
    Beth Witrogen McLeod

    As a former caregiver herself, Beth Witrogen McLeod can empathize with the rollercoaster of emotions that many caregivers face daily. She's shared the ride and offers tips on ways to hold on through the ups and downs.


    Always on Call: When Illness Turns Families into Caregivers
    Carol Levine, Editor

    This book is less a how-to and more a how-come. It uses real-life stories to discuss the issue of caregiving in the context of major changes - both policy and practice - to our health care system. Its essays cover the financial impact of caregiving, resolving conflicts with the health care team, models of innovative caregiving, and a review of government policies that affect family caregivers.


    Helping Yourself Help Others: A Book for Caregivers
    Rosalynn Carter and Susan Golant

    Look for empathy in this book, written by the former first lady. Rosalynn Carter thinks caregiving is such a critical issue that she has established an institute to research policies and practices. Using real-life caregiver stories, the authors demonstrate that caregiving has meaning and purpose, especially when caregivers get the support they need.


    The Human Side of Cancer: Living with Hope, Coping with Uncertainty
    Jimmie C. Holland, MD and Sheldon Lewis

    Psycho-oncology pioneer Jimmie C. Holland, MD, guides people with cancer and their caregivers through all aspects of the experience including strategies for coping with anxiety, communicating with the health care team and living with uncertainty. The author also includes discussions of the psychological effects of radiation, surgery, transplants, and other treatments. Although caregivers are not the book's main audience, they will likely find its insights and information useful in understanding the experience of their loved one.

    Things I Wish I'd Known book cover

    Things I Wish I'd Known
    Deborah J. Cornwall

    Practical lessons drawn from caregivers’ experiences are woven with their own words and most intimate feelings to forge a compelling narrative about the full range of issues you’ll face as a caregiver or patient.

    Caregiving and relationships


    When Life Becomes Precious: The Essential Guide for Patients, Loved Ones, and Friends of Those Facing Serious Illness*
    Elise Babcock

    Dealing with difficult conversations is the substance of this book, from times caregivers may not know what to say to times that call for tough conversations. Babcock's suggestions, along with practical resources, support clear communication between patients and the people who love them.


    An Uncertain Inheritance: Writers on Caring for the Family
    Edited by Neil Casey

    Authors such as Jerome Groopman, MD, Julia Alvarez, and 16 others, all of whom have cared for their own family members or been the object of care, give an honest and sometimes funny view of their experiences in this book of essays.


    The Power of Two: Surviving Serious Illness with an Attitude and an Advocate
    Gerri and Brian Monaghan

    This book couples inspiration with practical advice. It's both the story of what it meant to be a couple fighting cancer together and the story of how they fought. Gerri's top tip: "Trust your instincts."


    Couples Confronting Cancer
    Joy L. Fincannon, R.N., M.S
    Katherine V. Bruss, Psy.D.

    This book, published by the American Cancer Society, addresses the changes couples may experience when cancer enters their lives. It suggests pathways through conflicts and includes exercises that can help couples cope with special problems. The authors aim to help partners deepen their connection with each other so that they face the challenge of cancer as a team.


    Caregiving: A Shared Journey
    Dianne Thompson

    Read this personal memoir to learn the story of a caregiver's view of life when her husband was diagnosed with an aggressive - and ultimately fatal - cancer. The diagnosis and treatment brought challenges to this couple as they adapted to the many changes illness brings into a marital relationship. Their story is told with honesty, wit, and wisdom.


    Breast Cancer Husband: How to Help Your Wife (and Yourself) during Diagnosis, Treatment, and Beyond*
    Marc Silver

    When Silver's wife was diagnosed with breast cancer, he searched for information that could help him help her. When he didn't find it, he created his own road map for men looking for direction. Using humor, expert interviews, his own story, and the stories of other couples, Silver tackles such issues as talking to young children, the male "fix-it" mentality, and an honest discussion of sex following breast cancer surgery.

    End-of-life issues


    Final Journeys: A Practical Guide for Bringing Care and Comfort at the End of Life*
    Maggie Callanan

    Detailed information about difficult decisions facing caregivers and patients at the end of life are only part of this important book. Callanan also discusses caregiving in a "wounded relationship," the role of hope, and the impact of culture on families caring for a loved one at the end of life.


    The End-of-Life Handbook
    David Feldman and Stephen Andrew Lasher, Jr.

    Caregivers will find answers that might help them feel a modicum of control in a situation with none. Making sense of bad news, how to advocate for pain and symptom relief, and who on the medical team does what, are some of the topics covered.


    Jane Brody's Guide to the Great Beyond*

    Though the subject is sobering, this practical book's tone is compassionate and upbeat. With information on everything from advanced directives to organ donation, the book also tackles more complex subjects: living with a bad prognosis, caregiving at end of life, communication, and when doctors disappear.