Interview with author of new breast cancer guide

Today  on Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer, I am interviewing Cara Novy- Bennewitz author of Diagnosis: Breast Cancer: The Best Action Plan for Navigating Your Journey.

JBBC:  Congratulations on the publication of your wonderful new book, Diagnosis: Breast Cancer.  As I read your book I kept wishing this had been available to me at the time of my own diagnosis and I believe this was the very thought that motivated you to put this guide together.

CNB: Exactly! The idea for Diagnosis: Breast Cancer came to me two days after my diagnosis when I met with my surgeon for the first time. I remember sitting in her office, numb, nodding my heading pretending to process what was being said. What became very clear early on was I was about to be inundated with a lot of new information and I was going to need a way to understand it and keep track of it all. I was given a book by my surgeon and I visited many websites. However, neither of these resources gave me all the information I needed in one place and none of them really helped me enough to try to get some control over my situation. So I told myself that if I got through this I would try to make it easier for those who followed. After two years of researching, talking with experts in the field, and countless hours it’s finally published!

JBBC: I first met you online about a year ago when you were working on Diagnosis: Breast Cancer and I was struck by how you wanted to make this the best guide to breast cancer diagnosis and treatment you could, by including input from other breast cancer survivors. How important was this aspect of your work to you?

CNB: Input from others was extremely important for many reasons. It would have been presumptuous to think everyone had the same experience as me!  Although there are many commonalities’ with breast cancer, no two are exactly the same. What is the same, however, is that empowered and engaged patients have better treatment outcomes. I wanted advice from as many people as possible, survivors and medical experts alike, to ensure I was providing the most reliable and accurate guide for others.

JBBC: What struck you most forcibly from the online surveys you conducted? Did any of the data you gathered surprise you?

CNB: Thanks in great part to you Marie; I was able to collect quite a bit of data from survivors and current breast cancer patients. What became strikingly clear was not only the need for this type of book but the desire for it as well.

  • 90% said they would like to receive this type of book immediately upon diagnosis
  • 88% felt additional stress from not knowing what questions to ask each specialist
  • 98% said they would find this book to be helpful

What really stands out from this data is that patients are not being given enough educational materials at the time they need it most; upon diagnosis. Cancer is stressful enough without the added burden of trying to figure out everything on your own.

JBBC: Your book is a guide primarily to diagnosis and active treatment of breast cancer, but you also include a section on post treatment. What are some of the ways survivors can best plan for this phase of their journey with breast cancer?

CNB: I refer to this phase as “Aftercare” – the longest phase of your treatment. The best way to plan for this phase is by taking care of yourself both emotionally and physically.

  1. Continue to talk about your feelings and stay connected to others.
  2. Examine your dietary habits.
  3. Limit your sugar and alcohol intake.
  4. Get enough vitamin D & calcium
  5. Add whole grains & flax-seed to your diet.
  6. Increase your vegetables and fruit serving
  7. Exercise! Research has shown that exercising regularly can reduce your chances of a recurrence by 42%!
  8. Re-evaluate your priorities.
  9. Help pay it forward to keep you moving forward.

JBBC  You are planning a follow up to this book, can you tell us more about it?

CNB: I have always been an advocate for physical activity, now more so than ever! Part Two includes spreading the word on the importance of incorporating exercise in not only treating cancer, but in moving beyond a cancer diagnosis as well. I have created the website Working Out Cancer to help educate and motivate others on the importance of staying physically active. It’s a work in progress and just like the book, I welcome any and all input from your readers to help make it be of the most use to others.

JBBC: Finally Cara, you have generously offered a copy of your book to one of our readers. How would you like to see the winner use this copy of your book?

CNB: I am more than happy to give a copy away! I was thinking since most of your readers have already experienced breast cancer, I would love to ask them to help pay it forward and consider gifting the book to their treatment team or breast centers, or others helping alert women to this resource when they most need it – at the time of diagnosis. That’s really been my goal all along, getting this into patients’ hands as soon as possible. Until that giant corporate sponsorship happens who will distribute these for free (and I have faith it will!) I am grateful to everyone, especially you, for helping to spread the word.

JBBC: Thank you Cara for taking the time to talk with me today. I love the pay it forward idea – so folks, if you would like to win a copy of Diagnosis Breast Cancer, then simply leave a comment below, sharing a piece of advice you would give to someone recently diagnosed with breast cancer.

Diagnosis: Breast Cancer: The Best Action Plan for Navigating Your Journey is available for purchase on Amazon.