Home Before Dark

Union Square Press
(April 6, 2010)
Hardcover: 256 pages




Readings For and About Family Caregivers & Family Members of Someone With Cancer

Badr, Hoda; Taylor, Cindy L. (2008) "Effects of relationship maintenance on psychological distress and dyadic adjustment among couples coping with lung cancer," Health Psychology 27 (5), 616-627. This study of lung cancer patients and  their spouses finds that how spouses interact during the initial treatment phase will set the tone for the subsequent quality of the relationship. It seems crucial for spouses during this initial phrase to pay more frequent, positive attention to their relationship.

Clifford, Christine (2002). Our Family Has Cancer, Too! Pfeifer-Hamilton Publishers. For children aged 9-12, written by Christine Clifford, a survivor of breast cancer. Written from the perspective of her fifteen year-old son, Tim, the book describes the thoughts and feelings of Christine's family during her diagnosis and treatment and encourages both open communication and humor.

Davey,  M., Gulish, L., Askew, J., Godette, K., & Childs, N. (2005) "Adolescents coping with mom's breast cancer: developing family intervention programs," Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 31 (2), 247 - 258. This study finds that adolescents' lives are complicated by their mothers' breast cancer: they often feel burdened with additional roles and responsibilities. It highlights the need for adolescent intervention programs as well as for multi-family groups comprised of both parents and adolescents and offers recommendations for what the groups should focus on.

Ferrell, B., Ervin, K., Smith, S., Marek, T., Melancon, C. (2002). "Family Perspectives of Ovarian Cancer," Cancer Practice 10 ( 6) 269-276.   Over 1,100 pieces of correspondence from family caregivers of ovarian cancer patients were studied to determine what kind of support caregivers need, what their own quality of life was like. The caregivers lacked support, were given to feelings of isolation, and experienced considerable anxiety. Although they ignored their own physical well-being, their spiritual wellbeing was particularly important to them; they drew strength from their faith and were able to find positive meaning in their experiences.

Gilbar, Ora and Ben-Zur, Hasida (2002). Cancer and the Family Caregiver: Distress and Coping, Charles C Thomas Ltd. Written for clinicians, researchers, medical/psychological social workers, and nurses, the book familiarizes them with the stresses and coping methods used by cancer patients and their caregivers. It concludes that caregiver distress and functioning are related to the patient's distress and functioning.

Harpham, W. (2004) When a Parent Has Cancer: A Guide to Caring for Your Children, HarperCollins. Mother, physician, and cancer survivor Dr Wendy Harpham offers advice for parents trying to raise their children while struggling with a cancer. It includes specific plans for helping children through the upheaval of a parent's diagnosis and treatment, remission and recovery, and if necessary, confronting the possibility of death.

Helseth, Sølvi PhD, RN; Ulfsæt, Nina RN (2008). "Having a parent with cancer: coping and quality of life of children during serious illness in the family,"  European Journal of Cancer Care, 10 (1), 6-11. This study examined how children aged 7- to 12 years coped during a period of cancer in the family. It finds that children coped with the situation and maintained a balance in life by going in and out of the situation, both literally and emotionally. In general, the children reported feeling good, but they put a lot of effort into it, and their quality of life appeared to be fragile. Their well-being was especially vulnerable at the time of the diagnosis and when the illness situation changed.

National Cancer Institute "When Someone in Your Family Has Cancer" Online at http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/when-someone-in-your-family-archived/page7

Renshaw, Domeena (2007) "The pain bond," The Family Journal, 15 (4), 346-349 DOI: 10.1177/1066480707303758. Despite important medical advances in pain management, Renshaw finds that the interpersonal bond between sufferer and comforter around the issue of pain has a significant effect upon both people. She discusses both the individual and interpersonal dimensions of pain.

Smolowe, Jill (2007). "A Family Faces  the Truth," People Magazine (October 8, 2007) 68 (15). An inspiring article about how two generations of family members dealt with breast cancer. Kari Moroz's mother had attempted to shelter family members from her cancer, but when Kari was in her late 20's and developed it, she openly acknowledged it and helped her children face it and celebrate the ups and downs.

Physician/Patient Collaboration

Baider, L. and Surbone, A (2009). "Cancer and  the family: the silent words of truth," Journal of Clinical Oncology  Nov 16 2009: doi:10.1200/JCO.2009.25.1223  A physician wonders what it means to tell the truth to a family and patient who come from a different religion and culture. Is it the physician's sole responsibility to present the objective dimension of the patient’s illness, measured and expressed by medical test results and statistical data? Should the physician consider the many implications of such truth for the quality of life of the individual patient and family, especially when  they are from a different culture?

Bolletino, Ruth (2009). How to Talk with Family Caregivers About Cancer, WW Norton  September 2009. This book guides professionals on effectively and compassionately counseling caregivers and other family members, helping them realistically foster hope, deal with their feelings of grief and despair, and helping them provide emotional and practical support to the patient during the illness and treatment.

Eberl, MM., Sunga, AY., Farrell, CD., and Mahoney, MC. (2005). "Patients with a family history of cancer: identification and management," The Journal of the American Board of Family Practice 18, 211-217  Constructing a pedigree that includes 3 generations of cancer history can help family physicians identify patients at increased risk. This enables physicians to work with patients to develop a surveillance plan, maintain a healthy lifestyle, and remain up to date on other cancer screening tests.

Funnell, MM (2000). "Helping patients take charge of  their chronic illness," Family Practice Management, 17, 47-55.  A nurse practitioner advises both physicians and families how to empower families to gain more information, make treatment decisions, and aid in their own healing.

Gonzales-Crussi, F (2009) Carrying the Heart: Exploring the Worlds Within Us, Kaplan Publishing. Gonzáles-Crussi's unique perspective asks physicians to return to a view of the body not as a machine but as a wondrous work of creation the takes into account both the corporeal and the spiritual. It also reminds us, during these times of unprecedented knowledge of genetics and the body,  how wildly off-base theories and "facts" have sometimes been.

McDaniel, S.H., Campbell, T, Hepworth,  J., & Lorenz, A.  (2005) Family Oriented Primary Care, New York: Springer Company. Written primarily for physicians, but easily understandable and useful for patients as well, this book describes how and why physicians should involve the entire family in medical treatments and decision making.


Children with cancer

Kyngäs, H., Mikkonen, R., Nousiainen, EM., Rytilahti, M., Seppänen, P., Vaattovaara, R., & Jämsä, T., (2008). "Coping with the onset of cancer: coping strategies and resources of young people with cancer," European Journal of Cancer Cure, 10 (1), 6-11 Using interviews, this study examines the coping strategies and resources of adolescents and young adults with cancer. The major coping strategies were social support, belief in recovery and getting back to normal life as soon as possible. The family was the most important source of emotional support. Other important coping strategies: gaining knowledge about cancer and its treatment, a positive life attitude, belief in one's own resources, belief in God, earlier life experiences and willingness to fight against the disease.

O'Conner-Von, Susan (2009). "Coping With Cancer: A Web-Based Educational Program for Early and Middle Adolescents,"  Journal of Pediatric Oncology Nursing, 26, (4,) 230-241 DOI:10.1177/1043454209334417. Adolescent patients frequently use the Internet for information about cancer, but the quality of information varies widely. This study examines an innovative, interactive Web-based educational program, "Coping With Cancer,"  to prepare early and middle adolescents for cancer treatment. The program enhances adolescents' knowledge of cancer, cancer treatment, and coping strategies.


Managing the Emotional Aspects of Cancer

Aldwin, Carolyn and Werner, Emmy (2009) Stress, Coping and Development: An Integrative Perspective (2009) Guilford.  Successful stress management depends upon finding the best coping strategy for each individual; there is no one best method. Aldwin analyzes different kinds of stressors and their psychological and physiological effects, both negative and positive, and examines the ways in which personality, relationships, situational factors, and culture influence coping.

Butler, Lisa D., Koopman, C., Neri, E., Giese-Davis, J., Palesh, O., Thorne-Yocam, KA., Dimiceli, S., Chen, X., Fobair, P., Kraemer, HC., Spiegel, D. (2009). "Effects of supportive-expressive group therapy on pain in women with metastatic breast cancer," Health Psychology.  28 (5),  579-587. The latest study of growing literature supporting the use of hypnosis as an adjunctive treatment for medical patients experiencing pain.

Costanzo, Erin S.; Ryff, Cd., Singer, BH., (2009) "Psychosocial adjustment among cancer survivors: Findings from a national survey of health and well-being," Health Psychology 28 (2),  147-156.  Which cancer survivors show impairment, resilience, or growth in mental health and mood, psychological well-being, social well-being, and spirituality? In general, mental health declined after a cancer diagnosis, but poorer functioning in the other areas existed before diagnosis. Many survivors exhibited resilient social well-being, spirituality, and personal growth, with older survivors more likely than younger adults to show psychosocial functioning equivalent to their peers

Coyne, J.C., et. al, (2007) "Emotional well-being does not predict survival in head and neck cancer patients," Cancer 110 (11) 2568-2575. This study adds to the growing research in cancer survival rates and emotional well-being that finds no connection between the two. Emotional well-being, however, often leads to better quality of life.

Foley, Elizabeth, Baillie, Andrew, Huxter, Malcolm, Price, Melanie, Sinclair, Emma (2010). "Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for individuals whose lives have been affected by cancer: A randomized controlled trial," Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 78(1), (Feb 2010) 72-79. This study finds that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, a combination of meditation and therapy, results in significant improvement in depression, anxiety, stress and quality of life. It recommends providing MBCT in oncology settings

Gordon, James and Curtin, Sharon (2000) Comprehensive Cancer Care: Integrating Alternative, Complementary and Conventional Therapies, Da Capo, 2000. James Gordon, MD., Director of the Center for Mind-Body Medicine explains how to integrate alternative, complementary, and conventional medicine into cancer treatment.

Herschbach, P., Berg, P., Waadt, S., Duran, G., Engst-Hastreiter, U., Henrich, G., Book, K., &  Dinkel A. (2010). "Group psychotherapy of dysfunctional fear of progression in patients with chronic arthritis or cancer," Psychotherapy & Psychosomatics, 79(1), 31-38. Brief group psychotherapy, whether it is cognitive behavioral or supportive-expressive, signiticantly redcues the fear of disease progression.

Polsky, D., Doshi, JA., Marcus, S., Oslin, D., Rothbard, A., Thomas, N., Thompson, CL. (2005) "Long-term Risk for Depressive Symptoms After a Medical Diagnosis," Archives of Internal Medicine 165:1260-1266. This study examines the risk of development of significant depressive symptoms after a new diagnosis of cancer, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, arthritis, chronic lung disease, or stroke. It identifies several high-risk patient groups who might benefit from depression screening and monitoring.

Spiegel D, Butler LD, Giese-Davis J, Koopman C, Miller E, DiMiceli S, Classen CC, Fobair P, Carlson RW, Kraemer HC (2007) "Effects of supportive-expressive group therapy on survival of patients with metastatic breast cancer: a randomized prospective trial," Cancer, 110 (5), 1130-8. Stanford psychiatrist Spiegel attempts to replicate his landmark study finding that support groups increase survival rates of women with metastatic breast cancer and concludes  that the study cannot be replicated.  

Yalom, Irvin, D (2009)  Staring at the Sun: Overcoming the Terror of Death, April 2009 Jossey-Bass. Yalom, an existentialist psychotherapist, points out that preoccupation of death is an issue for everyone, although it is usually unconscious. His book helps explain how we can all contemplate our mortality in ways that add to, not subtract from, our lives.