What we are reading : Recommended resources from our library

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By Barbara Bourrier-LaCroix from the CWHN Expert Review Advisory Committee

The Falling Age of Puberty in US Girls: What We Know, What We Need to Know
Sandra Steingraber (Breast Cancer Fund, 2007)

Steingraber is the author of Living Downstream: An Ecologist Looks at Cancer and the Environment. This report highlights possible causes and impacts of early puberty—a known risk factor for breast cancer—and offers strategies to protect our daughters’ health.
Available at the Breast Cancer Fund website: http://www.breastcancerfund.org/site/pp.asp?c=kwKXLdPaE&b=3266489

 

State of the Evidence 2008: The Connection Between Breast Cancer and the Environment
Edited by Janet Gray (Breast Cancer Fund, 2008)

This comprehensive report examines the chemicals and radiation linked to increased risk of breast cancer. “A much more complex picture of breast cancer causation than traditionally accepted emerges, one in which timing, mixtures and dose of environmental exposures interact with genes and lifestyle factors.”
Available at the Breast Cancer Fund website: http://www.breastcancerfund.org/site/pp.asp?c=kwKXLdPaE&b=3266489

 

Body of Work: Meditations on Mortality from the Human Anatomy Lab
Christine Montroll (Penguin Press, 2007)

For first-year students in medical school, the dissection of a cadaver is an important rite of passage in their quest to become doctors. The author was herself a nervous student, standing outside the anatomy lab on her first day of class, preparing herself for what was to come. When she first met the cadaver, however, she was utterly intrigued by the person the woman once was, humbled by the sacrifice she had made in donating her body to science, fascinated by the strange, unsettling beauty of the human form. She and her fellow students named her Eve. This book is a moving memoir of the relationship between Eve and the first-year medical student who cuts her open, augmented with accounts of some of the history of the study of anatomy.

 

A Promise of Hope: The Astonishing True Story of a Woman Afflicted with Bipolar Disorder and the Miraculous Treatment that Cured Her
Autumn Stringam (Harper Collins, 2007)

It is estimated that between 1 to 2% of the adult population may experience a bipolar disorder, a potentially serious, debilitating illness that can affect how a person feels, thinks, and ultimately how that person behaves. Bipolar disorder also appears to run in families. The author, Autumn Stringam, and her brother Joseph were diagnosed with bipolar disorder—the same illness that led to their mother's and grandfather's suicides. A Promise of Hope is the personal story of Autumn Stringam's flight from illness to wellness, all due to the vitamin and mineral supplement that works on the premise that some forms of mental illness are caused by nutritional deficiencies. Whether or not the reader is convinced of the validity of the supplement’s power to cure bipolar disorder, this book certainly challenges us to re-examine how we look at mental illness, what causes it, and most importantly, how we treat it.

 

Parenting Children with Health Issues: Essential Tools, Tips, and Tactics for Raising Kids with Chronic Illness, Medical Conditions & Special Healthcare Needs
Foster W. Cline and Lisa C. Greene (Love and Logic Press, 2007)

Parents of children afflicted with a chronic illness face daily challenges. While they often feel desperate and alone, there are actually thousands of other parents coping with the same issues every day. An estimated 10 to 15% of children in Canada face medical conditions that don't go away, such as diabetes, asthma, epilepsy and cystic fibrosis. Raising a child with a chronic illness involves an often-confusing state of mixed uncertainty, apprehension, and heightened responsibility. Parents have to learn to cope with special diets, medication, schooling challenges, repeated hospitalizations, behavioural issues and more. Parents of children with special healthcare needs will see themselves and their children in the pages of this book. The authors discuss the essential skills parents need to help their children comply with medical requirements, cope well with health challenges, and live a hope-filled life. They also offer practical answers to some of the tough questions that crop up regarding psychological issues, sibling relationships, and dealing with death.

 

All Our Sisters: Stories of Homeless Women in Canada
Susan Scott (Broadview Press, 2007)

Homelessness is a complex issue. Some of the factors that contribute to this condition relate to Canada’s social policies, while others come out of the individual’s background, health, and life experiences. When we look at what has happened in Canadian society over the last 30 years or so, it is easy to see why there are so many women without a safe place to lay their heads at night, and yet when we see a person panhandling or bottle-picking, it is alarmingly easy to blame her instead of recognizing her as someone we as a society have failed. Canada is one of the few countries in the Western world without a social housing policy; the result is suffering for people at the lower end of the economic spectrum.

In All Our Sisters, the author interviewed more than 60 women at shelters, drop-ins, and other organizations in Calgary, Edmonton, New Westminster, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver and Winnipeg. With honesty and empathy, she retells their stories while highlighting the underlying problems they face. These include personal histories of abuse, addiction, and violence, as well as systemic conditions of gentrification, a paucity of affordable housing, and a lack of social services sensitive to women’s needs. Anyone who reads this can no longer turn a blind and complacent eye to women and men in desperate straits.

 

Surviving Adversity: Living with Parkinson’s Disease
Edited by Gord Carley (Surviving Adversity, 2007)
Parkinson's disease is a progressive disorder that results from the loss of nerve cells in the brain that help control movement. These nerve cells produce a chemical called dopamine, which sends signals between brain cells. The destruction of those nerve cells causes a shortage of dopamine, which works with another chemical messenger called acetylcholine to make muscle movement smooth. The shortage of dopamine results in tremors, rigid muscles and impaired coordination and balance. Parkinson’s disease is more prevalent in men than in women.

The first thing people hear about Parkinson’s is complicated medical language (see paragraph above). It’s often confusing and a little frightening, especially for someone with a new diagnosis, and their friends and family. This book, containing 28 profiles of individuals who share their stories of how they have adjusted to Parkinson’s, will help alleviate some of that anxiety by providing readers with perspective and hope.

 

Feminist Reflections on Growth and Transformation: Asian American Women in Therapy
Edited by Debra M. Kawahara and Oliva M. Espin (Haworth Press, 2007)

Understanding multicultural feminist perspectives is vital for clinicians working to effectively help women in therapy. This book provides therapists with insight and research into the identities of Asian American women, all toward the goal of being more effective when providing therapeutic help. Our identity is made up from several factors, such as worldview, beliefs, values, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, class, age and religious orientation. The articles included explore how these common factors impact psychotherapy approaches for women of Asian backgrounds. This text presents the current research, what the data mean for adjusting clinical strategies and personal accounts from Asian women. The different articles share perspectives on Asian American women’s lived experiences and psychological issues relevant to them as women. Topics explored include stereotypes of Asian women, gender identity, domestic violence, lesbian issues, and specific therapeutic approaches that can be considered when working with women of Asian descent.

 

Dialysis Without Fear: A Guide to Living Well on Dialysis for Patients & Their Families
Daniel Offer, Marjorie Kaiz Offer and Susan Offer Szafir (Oxford University Press, 2007)

Healthy kidneys work to clean the blood. They also make hormones that keep bones strong and blood healthy. When the kidneys fail, treatment is needed to replace the work the kidneys used to do. Unless a person in kidney/renal failure has a kidney transplant, they will need a treatment called dialysis. Over 30,000 Canadians suffer from kidney failure and require dialysis or a transplant to stay alive. For many people, the prospect of a regular appointment with a dialysis machine may seem like the end of life itself. According to the authors of this book, one of whom has been on dialysis since 1999, that reaction could not be more wrong. They provide the reader with a true-to-life account of what being on dialysis is like and what one can do to maintain as normal a life as possible during treatment. They acknowledge the difficulties of being on dialysis (such as 4-hour treatments 3 times a week), and offers realistic tips on travel, work and enjoying life.

 

Change from Within: Diverse Perspectives on Domestic Violence in Muslim Communities
Edited by Maha B. Alkhateeb and Salma Elkadi Abugideiri (Peaceful Families Project, 2007)

Violence against women occurs in every community, in every culture, faith and race. To date, however, domestic violence in Muslim communities has received little attention. It has been argued that Muslims face a double bind—as a minority community, Muslims are conscious of their image both inside and outside of their communities. They are cognizant of how they are portrayed in the media, and some may hesitate to address internal social problems for fear of adding fuel to the proverbial fire. Muslim advocates recognize that non-Muslim service providers are keenly aware of the prevalence of domestic violence in Muslim families since Muslims receive services from mainstream organizations and shelters due to the lack of sufficient social services in Muslim communities. The contributions in this book all work to bring awareness to the reality of domestic violence in some Muslim families, and offer tools to address such issues. These articles examine the reality of domestic violence, share survivor stories, and provide solutions and strategies. It should be noted that the legal references in this book are all American-based, but by using this book as a model, Canadian advocates will surely be able compare Canadian law to Islamic law. The authors hope that this work will help dispel stereotypes about Islam and Muslims by explaining rulings in the Qur’an, Sunnah, and fiqh in relation to domestic violence.

 

Women’s Experiences of Social Programs for People with Low Incomes
Marika Morris (Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women, 2007)

This fact sheet is based on a 2007 study entitled Integrating the Voices of Low-income Women into Policy Discussions on the Canada Social Transfer (CST): First Nations Women in Vancouver, Immigrant and Refugee Women in Calgary and Women with Disabilities in Winnipeg, and is divided into three parts. The first gives some background about the federal-provincial/territorial funding mechanisms for Canada’s social programs, including the different barriers women face when trying to access these programs.
The second part features the stories of low-income women and their allies. The third outlines the findings and key recommendations of the research.
Available online at http://www.criaw-icref.ca/

 

Forsaken
Lana Šlezić (House of Anansi Press, 2007)

In 2004, Canadian photographer Lana Šlezić went to Afghanistan assuming that the situation for women in this country had changed for the better since the Taliban was ousted in 2001. Šlezić assumed girls were back in school, women could choose whether or not to wear the burka, and the environment was less oppressive. However, during her travels through the many regions of Afghanistan, she discovered the truth. Together with a translator Šlezić travelled unobtrusively and was able to talk to and photograph women and girls throughout the country. Those she met greeted her warmly but, without exception, they had encountered domestic violence, forced marriage, illiteracy, and a basic lack of freedom. In her book Forsaken, Šlezić reminds the reader that Afghan women do not need saving, they need help, and that it is the Afghan women themselves who are most knowledgeable about their situations. Through these moving stories and photos, the everyday lives of Afghan women and girls are brought to light.