We asked people affected by breast cancer what books they read during and after treatment.
From motivating tips to heartfelt cancer diaries, or even a novel for a bit of escapism, sometimes a small book can make a big difference. Here are your top book recommendations for going through breast cancer.
1. B is for Breast Cancer, Christine Hamill
All I could come up with was waterproof mascara.’
Hamill explores the emotional and physical impact of her cancer diagnosis, written while going through treatment.
2. Mummy’s Lump, Gillian Forrest
‘Even though I am an experienced child psychiatrist, I was very unsure how to talk to my children about my diagnosis. Nobody asked if I had any problems with explaining what was happening to my children, everything was focused on my condition.’
After going through breast cancer with two children, aged five and seven, Gillian Forrest decided to write a book with Breast Cancer Now to help other parents in a similar situation.
Mummy’s Lump follows Elly and Jack as they learn of their mother’s diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer, written and illustrated as a children’s book that you can download from Breast Cancer Now.
3. The C Word, Lisa Lynch
After being diagnosed with breast cancer aged 28, Lisa turned her ‘frustrating, life-altering, sheer pain-in-the-arse inconvenience’ of getting breast cancer into writing.
4. I Felt a Right One, Karen Tighe
‘Whilst in the bath I lay back and take a look at my ‘bigger than I would really like’ body and focus on my chest… I put my glasses on and have a really good look, then start to gently feel my whole right breast. I feel the left one for good measure and can definitely detect a lump on the right side.’
Karen wrote her amusing and heartfelt telling of her experience to try and make cancer seem a little less frightening to others going through breast cancer, while also raising money for St Luke’s Hospice and Breast Cancer Now.
5. It's all just rock and roll, Alex Jagger
Jagger was diagnosed with breast cancer when her daughter was four, her job full-on, and life running at full-speed.
She tells the story of trying to keep her head (and hair) 'when the rest of the world is going mad' - and finally finding 'your very own sunshine.'
6. Tea & Chemo, Jackie Buxton
With all proceeds going to three cancer charities, Buxton’s book aims to support others like her through an honest, emotional and amusing account of her own breast cancer experience.
7. Emotional Support Through Breast Cancer, Dr. Cordelia Galgut
From both a personal and professional perspective - as a psychologist - she shares practical ideas and tips for diagnosis, treatment and beyond.
8. Ticking Off Breast Cancer, Sara Liyanage
Inspired by her popular blog, Sara has written about her experiences as 'a guide of sorts' for others who have been through breast cancer or who want to support someone who is.
Sara describes the book as 'an honest and very frank account of being diagnosed, having surgery, going through chemo, radiotherapy, being menopausal and then trying to move on after treatment ends.'
(Hashtag press, 2019)
9. The Complete Guide to Breast Cancer, Professor Trisha Greenhalgh and Dr Liz O'Riordan
In July 2015, Dr Liz O'Riordon - a consultant breast surgeon - was diagnosed with the very illness she'd spent her whole life learning how to treat.
Liz says that her book 'covers everything you need to know to empower you during treatment, and is packed full of all the tips and tricks we learned along the way.'
(Vermillion London, 2018
10. Life, Lemons and Melons, Alice May Purkiss
'It’s essentially about the life of every twenty something – but with some added mental anguish and the mild inconvenience which is cancer thrown into the mix,' Purkiss says.
Alice was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 26, so this book is essential reading for any younger women going through breast cancer.
11. Making Pearls From Grit, Isla Aitken
'I really want the book to be a sign to those with breast cancer that they’re not alone – that many people go through this experience, and we’re all here to hold each other up,' Isla told us.
Diagnosed with breast cancer while on holiday in Japan, former journalist, environmental activist and one-time politician Isla distracts herself with tourist adventures. Back in the UK, however, she is forced to face the reality of treatment.
(Isla Aitken, 2019)
12. Beyond the Pink, Susan Quirke
'I realised when I was diagnosed with cancer no one knew how to react towards me, from losing friends and dealing with medical staff. People were speaking at me, not to me.'
In this 'Diary of a Breast Cancer Survivor,' Susan shares her struggles with her diagnosis, as well as how she adapted to cope.
(Susan Quirke, 2019)
If you're inspired by these stories and would like to write about your own breast cancer experience, try using our writing guide.