Thursday, October 30, 2014

Review: A Breast Cancer Alphabet by Madhulika Sikka


From NPR News executive editor comes an indispensable and approachable guide to life during, and after, breast cancer.

The biggest risk factor for breast cancer is simply being a woman.  Madhulika Sikka’s A Breast Cancer Alphabet offers a new way to live with and plan past the hardest diagnosis that most women will ever receive: a personal, practical, and deeply informative look at the road from diagnosis to treatment and beyond.

What Madhulika Sikka didn’t foresee when initially diagnosed, and what this book brings to life so vividly, are the unexpected and minute challenges that make navigating the world of breast cancer all the trickier.  A Breast Cancer Alphabet is an inspired reaction to what started as a personal predicament.

This A-Z guide to living with breast cancer goes where so many fear to tread: sex (S is for Sex – really?), sentimentality (J is for Journey – it’s a cliché we need to dispense with), hair (H is for Hair – yes, you can make a federal case of it) and work (Q is for Quitting – there’ll be days when you feel like it).  She draws an easy-to-follow, and quite memorable, map of her travels from breast cancer neophyte to seasoned veteran.

As a prominent news executive, Madhulika had access to the most cutting edge data on the disease’s reach and impact.  At the same time, she craved the community of frank talk and personal insight that we rely on in life’s toughest moments.  This wonderfully inventive book navigates the world of science and story, bringing readers into Madhulika’s mind and experience in a way that demystifies breast cancer and offers new hope for those living with it.




To my knowledge, cancer has not been a factor in my family history.  But if it ever turns up, I'm going to be glad I have this book on my shelf!  This is not to say that we have not had our medical issues.  Rare is the family who has not been touched by tragedy in one form or another.

Being rich (or poor) does not give you immunity.  Being from the right or wrong side of the tracks does not protect you.  Having an advanced education, or a lack thereof, will not guarantee your safety or that of the ones you love.

A Breast Cancer Alphabet is a different way at organizing the process someone who has been diagnosed with breast cancer may go through.  Ms. Sikka acknowledges these 26 items came about as part of her own particular process.  Others may share them, and others' processes may look entirely different.  It is another set of eyes, a second opinion, if you will.

After having participated in two "Blogging from A to Z April Challenges", enumerating a list from A to Z about a single subject (such as Ms. Sikka's book does) will provide you with information you did not have before.  And knowledge is power.

Aside from the solid, important information provided in A Breast Cancer Alphabet, Ms. Sikka provides the information in an engaging way.  There is little or no way to present information about this serious diseause in a light-hearted way.  There is no magic pill.  But the author's way of presenting her information keeps open the door to hope, and that is maybe the best medicine of all.

After all, it's October - Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Check out or buy the book.  And don't forget to check your girls.



MADHULIKA SIKKA is a veteran broadcast journalist with decades of experience. Among other media outlets, she has worked at NPR News and ABC News.

Visit Madhulika’s website for more information.


  1. Sounds like an insightful and practical guide to making the best of the worst! Thanks for sharing about this book, LuAnn!

    1. I believe this book will help a lot of people, Shilpa. Thanks so much for your visit! :O)

  2. You are so right that there is nothing easy or light-hearted about this disease, but I love that this book has humor and hope to share.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.