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Just What the Doctor Ordered

Book Review: Braving Chemo by Dr. Beverly Zavaleta

Book Review: Braving Chemo

In her book, Braving Chemo, Dr. Beverly Zavaleta provides a comprehensive guide for anyone facing chemotherapy treatment for cancer. Dr. Zavaleta, a Harvard-educated physician, based the book on her own experiences after chemotherapy for breast cancer. But this book defies the confessional, physician turned patient revelations.

Braving Chemo offers an honest, detailed, and practical template on how to prepare for and navigate one of the more arduous steps in the patient journey. In the Introduction, Dr. Zavaleta outlines her reason for writing this book, “I discovered that for all the challenges I faced as a patient, my training as a family physician and a hospitalist gave me insight that very few cancer patients have.” This book aims to fill the gap for others with credible, reliable information.

The layout of the book is linear beginning with the Diagnosis, taking deep dives into each of the major issues with chemotherapy – side effects, infections, nutrition, appearance, mind games – and ending on Recovery. Such a detailed narrative makes it easy for the reader to pick out information most relevant as needed. And segments within chapters are packed with great material, in an easy-to-read format, punctuated with definitions, helpful hints, checklists, medical alerts, exercises, and resources with links for further research.

Dr. Zavalata brings the objective perspective of a clinician with the humanity of the lived patient experience. Any patient about to start chemotherapy, or in the midst of treatment, should have this book as a key resource to read and to reference as questions arise. Caretakers could also benefit from information in this book for guidance and perspective. Braving Chemo provides an authoritative guide for the chemotherapy experience.

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