Summary of the book
“Be Good to Your Breasts, The Complete Guide to Breast Cancer Prevention” is the fourth book by medical professional, Barbara Kass. This is an educational type book with a key goal being to help the reader create their own personalized breast health plan. To me, this book is full of useful information that women can benefit from, no matter your age. It’s likely that the subject matter is not of urgent interest until you are in your late 40’s or early 50’s, but that should not be the case, especially if you have young daughters. I wouldn’t call the book an easy read – I found myself needing to re-read paragraphs more than once - but if you’re serious about doing everything you can to reduce your risk of developing breast cancer, this book is packed with information that you can use.
Chapters in the book
The book has 16 logically organized chapters and several appendices, covering topics ranging from basic information about breasts to creating your own personalized breast health plan. The author does a nice job of not assuming that you already know a lot about the issues.
Anatomy of breasts
In one chapter, she details the basic anatomy of breasts – including when and how they grow, and the types of normal changes that you can expect to see over your lifetime.
In another chapter, you can learn about how to perform your own breast exam, as well as what to expect from a clinician-performed breast exam, and the basics of having a mammogram, ultrasound, or other breast-screening device. (The book also includes detailed information about the recommendations from the leading authorities on the recommended frequency of mammograms, and although personally I found it to be a bit distracting, it did serve to illustrate the confusing differences between the medical authorities’ approach to screening advice. (To me, the bottom line is: if you have a concern, see your doctor - and don’t take no for an answer until you’re satisfied.))
Your personal breast health plan
The creation of a personalized breast health plan is the central theme running through the entire book. Helpfully, the author devotes an entire chapter on how to create your breast health plan.
Over the course of several chapters, she identifies risk factors, discusses how breast health can be impacted by genetics, digestion, estrogen, lifestyle, and environment, and what you can do to mitigate all of them. At the end of most chapters, Ms. Kass includes a useful list of applicable risk factors that you can add to your personalized breast health plan.
Working with your healthcare provider
The author makes the sensible suggestion that once you have created your plan, you share it and discuss it with your medical provider. I can imagine that, in reality, the openness of your medical provider to this will vary tremendously and could be a challenge. This shouldn’t stop you from trying and if you manage it for yourself, then that may make it all the more easier for others to do the same too. So while there may be some initial resistance, don’t be easily dismissed as this is important for prevention.
Who is the target audience?
In addition to being useful for anyone interested in reducing their personal risk of breast cancer, the book will also be useful for people with young daughters. The book contains great guidance for setting your daughters on a journey to good breast health in adulthood. It’s hard not to wish that we’d all had that same information as young adults.
Although I would have liked to see the author show a bit more of herself through the book, it’s understandable that she didn’t include more of her personal story. The book is a clinical reference book rather than a personal journey or memoir. Personally, I find it so much more impactful when I get a sense of where the author is coming from so I always hope for a bit more personal background. That said, it doesn’t mean that this book isn’t crammed full of good information, and that every woman should read it. As I mentioned earlier, I didn’t find this book to be an easy read - or even a feel-good read written by someone who has gone through the rigors of breast cancer. This is a serious reference book that will likely take more than one reading to absorb. There’s a lot of information in it, and for most people, a lot of it will be new. But, if you’re serious about minimizing your – or your child’s – risk of developing breast cancer, then this could be an important book for you.
This book is 290 pages.
Review by Kathie Farrell, CALMERme.com
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