patients-guide-to-cancer-coverThe Street-wise Patient’s Guide To Surviving Cancer, by Karol Sikora

Karol Sikora is one of the world’s leading authorities on cancer, his credentials are exemplary. He tells us his story from a young student in the 70s when scientists thought they would find a magic bullet to cure cancer to the present day where we now see cancer as a chronic condition like others. A disease that some people survive and live with and that they will need help with and funding to do so. He talks you through cancer, what it is, how it is treated, modern cancer drugs, specific cancer types, complementary & alternative medicine (be wary of quacks and always discerning), the politics of cancer, life after cancer and the future of cancer care.

He doesn’t shy away from the things we’re not so good at in the UK, how far we are behind other countries, treatment that’s difficult to get here, the parlous state of the NHS, how we are going to fund our care in future. And when I say “our” care, throughout the book what he’s saying is: take control of your cancer, your treatment, don’t let other people tell you what to do. But always be polite, always talk to the right people from the receptionist upwards, cultivate everyone who may be useful! Don’t hide behind ignorance of medical terms or new drugs, find someone to help you understand them. Don’t avoid the internet, use it well but be discerning, some excellent sites out there. Funding is becoming an increasing issue with ever more expensive cancer treatments, we may have to find funds ourselves to get the best treatment we need.

This is just the book I wish I’d had 7 years ago when I was first diagnosed. As time has gone on, I’ve become more and more convinced that each of us is our own expert. We must control what is happening to us, liaise with all our medical and support teams, know what is going on. Our amazing NHS has millions of people to care for and we just have ourselves to focus on.

His final para is a mantra for us all: Build up a picture of your specific cancer, the diagnostic steps, possible treatments. Find out what’s available near you.. With all this info you can create a level playing field between you and your doctors. They won’t be able to simply fob you off now. Congratulations, you have become an “empowered patient.”

Get this book and use it!