Tackling Breast Cancer With Humor Books

Pick up one of these 20 inspiring reads. After all, laughter is the best medicine.
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'Breastleass in the City' by Cathy Bueti

The intrepid author juggles doctor's appointments, surgery and chemotherapy, all while searching for Mr. Right in a city of Mr. Oh-So-Wrongs.

'Cancer on $5 a Day' by Robert Schimmel

Stand-up comic Schimmel was about to make it big: his HBO special was a huge hit and Fox had just picked up his sitcom. But his career plans took a turn when he was diagnosed with stage III non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Read his memoir for its colorful, laugh-out-loud humor and for Schimmel's moving account of how cancer changed him for the better.

'Cancer Schmancer' by Fran Drescher

In this memoir meets healthcare how-to, Drescher discusses her uterine cancer diagnosis and treatment in great and hilarious detail. There are plenty of brilliant one-liners here, but much more importantly, there's a message:

 

"If what follows impresses just one thing on you," she writes, "I hope it's to never be passive when it comes to your health. Open a mouth! Assume that doctors, being human, are fallible, and remember that nobody knows your body as well as you do."

'Hoda: How I survived War Zones, Bad Hair, Cancer, and Kathie Lee' by Hoda Kotb

Kathie Lee's kooky, outspoken cohost on the Today Show reveals, with warmth and humor, what it was like to get cancer—and get a divorce—in the same year. Buy it here.

'Lump' by Leena Luther

In 19 insightful, unsentimental, often funny monologues, Luther writes about what it's like to receive a breast cancer diagnosis at 27.

'The Middle Place' by Kelly Corrigan

Three years after calling home to tell her parents she'd given birth to a baby girl, newspaper columnist Corrigan placed a call to tell them she had breast cancer. In her engaging, deeply relatable memoir, she writes about the bonds of family: "Calling home. Instinctively. Even when all the paperwork—a marraige license, a notarized deed, two birth certificates, and seven years of tax returns—clearly indicates you're an adult, but all the same, there you are, clutching the phone and thanking God that you're still somebody's daughter."

'Nordie's at Noon' by Patti Balwanz, Kim Carlos, Jennifer Johnson and Jana Peters

At their monthly lunches at the cafe at their local Nordstrom department store, four friends gather to talk about career, family and another more serious topic, their breast cancer diagnoses. In this shared memoir, the women write with humor and courage about issues their "non-breat cancer friends" just wouldn't understand.

'How Shall I Tell the Dog?' by Miles Kington

Mischevious Miles Kington, one of England's best-loved humorists, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and given only a few months to live. He decided to spend his remaining days riffing on his situation in this hilarious book, which is written as a series of letters to his literary agent Gill.

'Thanks for the Mammogram!' by Laura Jensen Walker

"Some couples get monogrammed stationery or season tickets to the ballet for that first (paper or plastic) anniversary; others get beautiful coffee-table books or colorful picnic ware. I got cancer," writes Jensen Walker in this humorous, hopeful account of her battle with breast cancer.

'Cancer Vixen: A True Story' by Marisa Acocella Marchetto

In her inspiring graphic memoir, Marchetto is shocked to discover she has breast cancer one month before her wedding. But the New Yorker cartoonist doesn’t let the disease keep her down: "Cancer, I’m going to kick your butt! And I’m going to do it in killer four-inch heels!" Available at Amazon.com.

'Humor After the Tumor' by Patty Gelman

This funny, heart-warming book began as a series of emails the author wrote to family and friends about her year-long battle with breast cancer. (She broke the news to her cancer-survivor mother by announcing, "Well, it’s my turn now!") Writing proved cathartic for Gelman, who gives her story a positive spin as she details her trip to "cancer world" and back. Available at Amazon.com.

'Lopsided: How Having Breast Cancer Can Be Really Distracting' by Meredith Norton

Norton’s irreverent memoir chronicles not just her breast cancer experience, but also her offbeat life. Stories from her childhood (a somewhat racist ski trip, a family reunion at a Florida alligator farm) give insight into her humorous take on cancer while providing much comic relief in the face of harrowing treatments. Available at Amazon.com.

'101 Uses For An Empty Bra' by Michael Johnson

To cheer up his sister in the face of her bilateral mastectomy, Johnson created this hilarious book of cartoons, witty diagrams that offer new uses for old underwire. Behold the bra as rice bowl, a pair of boxing gloves and a toe warmer in the winter. Available at Amazon.com.

'Cancer Is a Bitch (Or, I'd Rather Be Having a Midlife Crisis)' by Gail Konop Baker

It’s Valentine’s Day and Baker, a mother of three, has an appointment with the oncologist. "Cancer is a bitch," she declares. "It doesn’t give a shit about my holidays." And so begins Baker’s sharp, funny, relatable tale of her experience with the disease-and the gnawing fear that it will come back. Or, as she puts it, every mammogram feels like a "call back" for an audition. Available at Amazon.com.

'Why I Wore Lipstick to My Mastectomy' by Geralyn Lucas

Lucas was 27 and had just landed her dream job at 20/20 when she found out she had breast cancer. "This was one part of the diagnosis that no one would discuss with me," she writes as she grapples with a mastectomy. "What it means to have one boob in a boob-obsessed universe." Available at Amazon.com.

'Cancer Made Me a Shallower Person' by Miriam Engelberg

Engelberg channeled her intense feelings about breast cancer into this engaging, darkly funny graphic memoir, which follows the author as she gets treatments, meets with support groups and goes wig shopping. Available at Amazon.com.

'The Adventures of Cancer Bitch' by S.L. "Sandy" Wisenberg

Wisenberg may have lost a breast to cancer, but she hasn’t lost her sass or skepticism toward the medical community. Here, she critiques the discrepancy in levels of care between insured and uninsured patients, analyzes her doctors in detail and balks at the mounds of unrecyclable plastic left at a survivors’ walk. With a smart, self-deprecating sense of humor, she even decorates the top of her bald head with henna tattoos and an antiwar protest. Check out the Cancer Bitch blog for stories and interviews. Available at Amazon.com.

'It's Not About the Boobs!' by Michele M. Lloyd

What to do with a cancer diagnosis? After mapping out a course of action with her doctor, Lloyd decided to stop taking her family for granted and start living a better life. This involves throwing herself a party, healing through retail therapy and always looking her best before a chemo treatment. Available at Amazon.com.

'B.O.O.B.S.: A Bunch of Outrageous Breast Cancer Survivors Tell Their Stories of Courage, Hope and Healing' by Ann Kempner Fisher

In this warm, funny collection of personal stories, ten women-brought together by the Wellness Community, a cancer support program that provides free counseling-come together in group therapy to talk about breast cancer. Available at Amazon.com.

'My One-Night Stand With Cancer' by Tania Katan

Katan had a breast removed when she was diagnosed with cancer at 21. Ten years later, the disease re-entered her life. Here, she tells of picking up women while she’s bald, running two 10K races and swearing off crazy partners because "toxic girlfriends give me cancer," all with an enduring sense of humor. Available at Amazon.com.

 

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