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A Breast Cancer Alphabet

4.17  ·  Rating Details  ·  131 Ratings  ·  43 Reviews
A definitive and approachable guide to life during, and after, breast cancer

The biggest risk factor for breast cancer is simply being a woman. Madhulika Sikka's A Breast Cancer Alphabet offers a new way to live with and plan past the hardest diagnosis that most women will ever receive: a personal, practical, and deeply informative look at the road from diagnosis to treatme
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published February 25th 2014 by Crown (first published 2014)
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Mar 20, 2014 Michael rated it it was amazing
Breast cancer has become something of a cause celebre these days. There are marathons, t-shirts, Facebook pages, high-profile double mastectomies. And well there should be: cancer, we don't need to be reminded, is an insidious, wasting disease, and the 'war on (breast) cancer' publicity machine has helped many women and families deal with its effects. But in A Breast Cancer Alphabet, Madhulika Sikka, with honesty and precision, offers a refreshing and straightforward view of her journey through ...more
May 03, 2015 ☮Karen rated it really liked it
If you're ever diagnosed with breast cancer, this is a great perspective on what to expect, how to fight the anxieties, fears, pain, guilt -- how to cope with it all. This is the book I wanted to write.

ARC from
Nov 18, 2014 Melinda rated it really liked it
There is so much to cancer, more than the medical involvement, it’s the emotional, mental and physical toll it takes on the afflicted. Each person’s experience varies, however a few aspects might be shared and easily relatable of those suffering, Sikka herself states it is an immensely personal ‘journey.’ A Breast Cancer Alphabet addresses a myriad of challenges breast cancer imposes from a woman whose experience is shared.

Sikka gives a candid insight into breast cancer from the diagnosis contin
Enka-Candler Library
Aug 04, 2014 Enka-Candler Library rated it really liked it
Sikka's concise and approachable A Breast Cancer Alphabet is an empathetic and relevant addition to breast cancer literature. In passages like this:
"The day you are diagnosed with breast cancer is a day you will never forget. It is the moment that your world is turned upside down forever. Nothing about you or your life will be the same after that,"
Sikka captures the emotion and understanding of someone who's been given a first-class ticket to Cancerland-- one-way, mind you.

This book would make
Aug 03, 2014 Kats rated it it was amazing
The first day after my last day of chemotherapy I read (or rather: listened to) this book. Why? Shouldn't I move on now that it's finally over?
As the author, Madhulika Sikka says in chapter 1 ("A is for Anxiety"), the life with breast cancer never really stops being that, as after treatment you will always live with the anxiety that it comes back. So, in one way it was good timing at the end of my treatment cycles, as I need to face the future that lies ahead (plus more surgery to stay ahead of
Mar 20, 2014 Laura rated it it was amazing
Since my Mom's breast cancer diagnosis just before Christmas this past year, I've been immersing myself in all sorts of breast cancer books. This lovely little tome appeared on my doorstep as a gift (we still don't know who it's from, though!), and I added it to my stack. Granted, most of the books I've come across I can skim and skip around without missing much new information/insight/statistics since so many seem to overlap. But this one was a little gem of a cancer book. Madhulika is honest, ...more
Jan 31, 2014 Nancy rated it it was amazing
When Elizabeth Edwards died of breast cancer in 2010, the author of this book was in the White House with an NPR crew to interview the President. Pretty Christmas tree? New Rug? Sikka couldn’t tell you because, in the forefront of her mind, she was awaiting a phone call that could (and did) change her life.

Breast Cancer! Scary news! I know this because this past September I received the same phone call. Plans to be planned, decisions to be decided, life goes on but on a totally different course.
Going into this, I wasn't cognizant that it was geared towards those who had been diagnosed with breast cancer. I do not qualify, which is certainly not the fault of the text. Re-reading the copy, I can see a few qualifiers that signal the book's intended audience, though they are a bit vague. I would perhaps have wished that the publisher had made these sentences a bit more explicit, though I'm also liable for not reading as closely as I should have.

Nonetheless, this book wasn't a sunk cost. I
Dec 10, 2014 Patricia rated it it was amazing
I identified with every page, only missing was radiation which was devastating. I too kept a journal from the very first day of the mammogram, then diagnosis. Thank you for writing this book, it is such a helpful reminder of the long, plodding trek we call a journey.
Feb 11, 2015 Carol rated it it was amazing
This is a remarkable little book which I won through a Goodreads give away, and I'm so happy I did! As a breast cancer "survivor" for 8 years, I assure you that everything Madhulika Sikka writes about in this book is absolutely true. And she does it with humor, forthrightness and a sense of purpose, because she, too is a "survivor". Now, I know she doesn't like that word and that she feels one doesn't really "survive" breast cancer, one forever deals with it. And on that point, she is correct, b ...more
Jessica Higgins
Nov 03, 2014 Jessica Higgins rated it it was amazing
A top notch guide for anyone dealing with Breast Cancer themselves or someone they know and love.

This book dives deep into the world so many don’t want to talk about – Cancerland, as Sikka calls it. A Breast Cancer Alphabet is a wonderfully user friendly ABC of how to deal with the devastating news of having cancer. It will even help you try to get through it with a smile. This is advice from A to Z that should be read before, during, and after you are throttled with the unexpected news this is
Oct 22, 2014 Darlene rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobooks
Originally posted at:

Not many of us can say that cancer hasn’t touched our lives in some way whether it be in our own life or in the lives of our loved ones. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and I always like to try and spotlight a few books that deal with breast cancer and those dealing with it. A Breast Cancer Alphabet by Madhulika Sikka is a little book that packs a big punch and should be one of the first things you gift a newly diagnosed brea
Oct 19, 2014 Lesa rated it really liked it
One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. The greatest risk for developing breast cancer? Being a woman. Is there anyone who doesn't know that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month? I'm sure Madhulika Sikka, executive producer of NPR's Morning Edition was aware of that month before she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010. But, she wasn't aware of all the little things that go hand-in-hand with that diagnosis. That's were her book comes in, A Breast Cancer Alphabet.

With her
Oct 26, 2014 Brenda rated it it was amazing
A Breast Cancer Alphabet by Madhulka Sikka provides insight and plenty of information whether you are going thru this dreaded diagnosis or just know someone who is! While each person's experience is unique reading this book may affirm some things they are experiencing but mostly it will allow them to know that they aren't alone in their experiences. Ms. Sikka writes in an easy to read manner making for a comfortable read that allows an up close look at what she experienced. I appreciated that sh ...more
Feb 28, 2014 Melinda rated it really liked it
In "A Breast Cancer Alphabet," Madhulika Sikka covers 26 aspects of going through treatment for breast cancer in a frank and reassuring manner. This is a great companion book for "The Emperor of Maladies" which covers more of the factual aspects of cancer and cancer treatment, while "A Breast Cancer Alphabet" covers the emotional and personal facets.
I wish this book had come out last year. My mom just finished treatment for breast cancer two weeks ago. I think this book could have helped her kn
Andrea Guy
Sep 30, 2014 Andrea Guy rated it it was amazing
This book should be every woman's companion, whether or not you have this disease.


Because I guarantee that most women know someone who is dealing with a trip to Cancerland, a place no one wants to go. Madhulika, tells it like it is, but in a way that offers a little bit of levity to a not very pleasant situation.

The alphabet is very upbeat and I agree with her take on things. I definitely can't see having this illness as a journey. Just as I'm with her on the whole "women warriors" in thei
Apr 01, 2014 Lyndsey rated it really liked it
I got this one as an ARC and was very excited. I've had several family members do battle with the big C, most recently my 30something cousin who has been diagnosed with a very rare and serious case. I was anxious to have a better understanding of the toll cancer takes and how family can ease the burden.

I was a little worried that this was going to be hard to relate to. The author opens talking about waiting to meet the president. But Sikka quickly made me realize that cancer takes the same cruel
Vera at LuxuryReading.Com
My favorite chapters were titled “F is for Fashion Accessories” and “P is for Pillows“. You may wonder, “What do fashion accessories have to do with cancer?” I personally commend Sikka for including this chapter and another one on looks. Going through chemo, radiation and other types of treatment is tough and draining and sometimes all I wanted to do was go out to dinner and feel normal. That is where scarves and earrings came in and I enjoyed simply spending a few moments worrying about regular ...more
Floria Taylor
Nov 07, 2014 Floria Taylor rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
This book is as simgle as your ABC's and a very easy to read book. I would reccommend this to ANYONE, whether you just found out you have breast cancer; have a family member or friend who is going throught this; or if you just want to know what it is all about. Madhulika Sikka gave a simple step by step, day by day look into the life of someone dealing with breast cancer while making it easy to understand and relate to. She tells it like it is with truth and honesty directly from her own life fr ...more
Sep 14, 2015 Wearethejones rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: breast cancer patients, breast cancer survivors, breast cancer patient's loved ones
I thought this was a very well done book about what it feels like to go through Breast Cancer. Even though every Breast Cancer experience is unique, as a Breast Cancer survivor/warrior/fighter, I was able to relate to many of the things she wrote about.

I highly recommend this book to women who have been recently diagnosed, or who have Breast Cancer. I also recommend this book to all the loved ones, friends, family and caregivers of someone with Breast Cancer. This will give you a better underst
Stephanie Pounds
Dec 02, 2014 Stephanie Pounds rated it liked it
Shelves: your, library
I'm trying to figure out how I got this book. I mean I know I got it from the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program, but I don't remember selecting it and it's not normally the kind of book I'd select. That being said, I decided to dive in anyway. Madhulika Sikka is an editor for NPR News who chronicles her experiences with breast cancer in The Breast Cancer Alphabet. It's not your normal chronicle however. The book is comprised of 26 very small chapters, each a couple of pages long--one for each ...more
Nov 12, 2014 Stacie rated it it was amazing
During this month of October, I felt it was especially appropriate to share this book. A BREAST CANCER ALPHABET isn't just for the person with cancer, but for those who love and care for the person with cancer. I would even offer that even though this book focuses specifically, in certain chapters, about breast cancer, this book could be helpful to anyone with any form of cancer.

While working as a producer with NPR, Sikka found out she had breast cancer. As she traveled through chemo and hair l
Aug 01, 2014 BMR, MSW, LSW rated it really liked it
FULL DISCLOSURE: I won this in a Goodreads giveaway.

I wish I could give it 3.5 stars instead of just 3 or just 4.

Very fast, but interesting, read. Author works as a producer for NPR's Morning Edition in DC, so she has lots of famous friends giving her advice and access to top-notch breast cancer resources.

I did notice a blatant lack of talking to male breast cancer patients, or even addressing the fact that men get breast cancer too, which is why I would rate it a 3.5. It's very cis*gender femal
Elena (Gone Bookserk)
Nov 04, 2013 Elena (Gone Bookserk) rated it really liked it
A Gone Bookserk Perspective

I did research in a pharmacology department with a specialized look at breast cancer, so when I picked up this book I was truly excited that it was going to touch on areas I had never encountered or thought about in the laboratory. This book is not only an index on breast cancer, but it is also an index on living and surviving breast cancer. It is about how to prepare for breast cancer when you've been told you have it to just about everything else that comes along wi
Mar 30, 2014 Sarah rated it it was amazing
Written in 26+ chapters, each of about 5-7 pages in length and composed in such a manner that you could jump around and read whichever you like without feeling that something essential might have been missed by not following along in a linear manner, this book touches the reader at the cellular level. It doesn't matter if you are the patient, or if it's a loved one who got the ugly diagnosis. Frankly it doesn't even matter if it was specifically breast cancer and not some other cancer -- this bo ...more
S Holthaus
Feb 27, 2014 S Holthaus rated it it was amazing
I heard Madhulika Sikka on NPR and she sounded so frank and straightforward I wanted the book. I have a friend who has breast cancer and I wanted to see if the book might be helpful. I bought it for both of us and read it in one sitting. Chock full of simple, real advise about what you have to go through when you are diagnosed with breast cancer. No frills, no BS - very valuable for onlookers like me too.
Apr 12, 2014 Adrienne rated it it was amazing
I myself have not ben diagnosed with breast cancer but after hearing an interview with the author on NPR I was intrigued. I know that without my own diagnosis I will never truly feel or know what women experience but I now feel better equipped to offer my love, friendship and support to women I know or will know.
Nancy Nisselbaum
Mar 15, 2014 Nancy Nisselbaum rated it really liked it
Madhulika articulated much of what I have been unable to say. This book had me crying on the subway, in the lunchroom, at home. Everyone's cancer experience is different and much of what I went through did not match the author's. But what did match was so spot on. A is Anxiety indeed.
Mar 15, 2016 Heather rated it it was amazing
This was just the book I was looking for; simple, personal, straightforward advice about dealing with breast cancer. Like advice from a girlfriend who's been there. Very quick read but one that I know I'll open again and again in the next several months.
Maria Karber Miller
Jul 01, 2014 Maria Karber Miller rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
I received this book from the goodreads giveaways first reads. I do not suffer from breast cancer myself but have been on the sidelines of others suffering through it. This deeply personal book gives the reader a look into the author's struggle. She shares the good, bad, and ugly with humor and honesty. I'll be sharing this one for sure.
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