Book Review: But Hope is Longer

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Publication Date: 
Thu, 2014-06-26

Because she worked not only with an oncologist and other conventional medical specialists, but also with a naturopathic oncologist, she is able to offer invaluable advice and insight on how to navigate these two worlds. She also wisely chose to interview all the members of her team for her book, asking them how they view breast cancer today, what works within the system, what needs to change, and about their views on integrating conventional and complementary methods. She “lucked out” in having an exceptional group of caregivers who treated her with dignity as a patient, and cooperated fully in agreeing to be interviewed for the book. The snippets of interviews with these caregivers provide some of the most compelling parts of the book. 

Levine was equally fortunate in having a warm and loving family and a wide network of friends who helped her continuously and generously throughout her ordeal. We should all be so lucky in the care we receive, but of course some, perhaps too many, aren’t. My only caveat in recommending this book is that for a woman who does not have such a network and/or is less fortunate in the medical care providers she has, when she reads of Levine’s good fortune, she could feel some alienation because of her own situation.

But it is a small caveat about an otherwise terrific read. Levine set out to write the book not just to chronicle her own journey with breast cancer, but also with the express intent of “inspiring others who are dealing with other cancers or catastrophic illnesses.” In this regard, the book is both intensely personal and reflective, as well as being extremely practical and helpful. Were I to find or be told of a health problem such as Levine experienced with her cancer diagnosis, I would be as likely to go back to her book as to scour the Internet for information and call on medical friends for help. Thank you, Tamara Levine, for writing a book for our times, one that is right for and reflective of the second decade of the 21st century. 

Anne Rochon Ford is the Executive Director of the Canadian Women’s Health Network and in the mid-1990s was on the founding board of Willow: Ontario Breast Cancer Support Network.