Woman mines suffering cancer brings and writes advice book

March 27, 2013 

Diagnosed in December 2008 with breast cancer, Suzan Rivers finished her treatment in November 2012. That treatment has included 14 surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation. Along with the usual difficulties from cancer treatment, such as losing her hair, she has had many complications including a staph infection that almost killed her.

But always one to find the good in the bad, Rivers has taken her journey through breast cancer treatment and turned it into a book to help others with their own voyage.

“Dear Girlfriend -- A Hand Held Walk Through Breast Cancer,” was released in December and is the story of Rivers’ treatment.

“One of the reasons that I wrote the book,” Rivers said, “is to make going through this easier for others.”

She does that with plenty of practical advice and plenty of humor.

“Parts of the book are very serious,” Rivers said. “Other parts are very funny. There is nothing funny about cancer, but one thing I learned is that when you have cancer, nothing changes in your life. People expect you to be the person that you are. I have always been told I have a good sense of humor, so some of the things that struck me as funny I included.

“Cancer can’t take away who you are. It makes you suffer. It gives you scars, but you are still the same person.”

Rivers credits humor, as well as prayer and love, for getting through her ordeal.

The book is designed as letters, with Rivers describing problems and solutions like she was giving a girlfriend advice.

“I wanted to tell people how to get through procedures easier with less discomfort,” Rivers said.

While a guide for those going through cancer treatment, the book is also a must read for those with a loved one with cancer.

“You need a buddy,” Rivers said. “My husband went with me to every appointment, every surgery. It really made a difference. Your mind shuts off and you don’t hear anything, but my husband listened.”

Rivers didn’t actually set out to write a book. She turned to journaling after her diagnosis to help get out her pain and depression.

“It just helps to get it out and does ease the depression some. Cancer is depressing. You look down and see yourself with no breasts, and you look up and see yourself with no hair. What could be more depressing? But in a diary you can say things that you wouldn’t say to others.”

The idea to organize her journal and have it published came in an effort to make the ordeal of breast cancer easier for others. The book is on sale at the John B. Amos Cancer Center in Columbus, where Rivers had her treatment. Her physicians have endorsed the book and made comments that are included.

“Dear Girlfriend -- A Hand Held Walk Through Breast Cancer” is available on Amazon.com or by contacting Rivers. Rivers is also available to speak to groups and can be contacted at suzanrivers@bellsouth.net.

Contact Alline Kent at 396-2467 or allinekent@cox.net.

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