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Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Cancer Experience Turns into a Page-Turner

Title: Getting It Off My Chest, A Journey Through Breast Cancer
Author: Sandra Fikus
Author's website:

Genre: Autobiography/Health
ISBN: 9781456885052
Reviewer: Matt Joseph

Originally reviewed by Matt Joseph at Amazon. Rating: 4.0

You're cruising through life young and healthy, managing a busy and complex family, you have a career, children, are a success and you have a great future. Out of the blue one morning, "I brushed my hand across my chest and felt a lump."

Thus begins the engaging book "Getting It Off My Chest," a past-paced
chronicle of one Canadian woman's experience with Stage II breast cancer and its lingering aftermath. Sandra Fikus lives in Vancouver, B.C., and
seemingly has it all. She has no family history of breast cancer. She's done
all the right things and she's made all the right choices.

Then, discovery of a lump in her breast one day after Christmas in 2007
upends her life forever.

"Getting It Off My Chest" is presented in a diary format. Day-by-day, week
in and week out, the author describes, in often humorous and earthy
language, her immediate shock at first, her formal diagnosis, the vast
support system she depends on, the grinding treatments and her subsequent
healing. While there is perhaps more than we care to know about her family's internal dynamics, we learn much about the biology of cancer. Fikus is deeply grateful for her doctors, but the reader watches her dissatisfaction
with the traditional medical profession grow stronger with each passing day.

As the author recounts her story, there are interesting and important
detours along the way. We learn about nutrition, wellness, spirituality, and
yoga. We come to value second chances, and how surviving a serious illness
allows one to reevaluate the way they live and care for themselves. Fikus
raises many important questions about cancer. The answers to her questions
are beyond the scope of this book - or any book, really.

This was one of those rare reads I simply couldn't put down. A slim 165
pages, I finished "Getting It Off My Chest" during a single cross country
flight. My own family has been devastated by cancer and I could strongly
relate to this story. Fikus's testimony should be read by men as much as by
women. Hers is the voice of our mothers, wives, daughters, sisters, aunts,
nieces, cousins and friends. Through the gritty challenges of one breast
cancer patient and survivor, we can perhaps better understand how the women battling cancer in our own lives are doing - what they may be thinking, feeling, and how they are coping.

~Review Matthew Joseph is a lawyer living in San Mateo, CA.  Learn more about him at


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