PUBLISHED ON: 1 March 2018

We asked people affected by breast cancer what books they read during and after treatment.

From motivating tips to heartfelt cancer diaries, or even a novel for a bit of escapism, sometimes a small book can make a big difference. Here are your top 10 book recommendations for going through breast cancer.

1. B is for Breast Cancer, Christine Hamill

B is for Breast Cancer ‘The day after I was diagnosed with breast cancer I found myself blinking back tears while shopping, thinking: Now, what does a breast cancer patient need?

All I could come up with was waterproof mascara.’

Hamill explores the emotional and physical impact of her cancer diagnosis, written while going through treatment.

(Piatkus, 2014)


2. The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, Alexander McCall

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective AgencyThe famed and well-loved series of novels follows Precious Ramotswe - Bostwana’s only female private detective - through various, and curious, cases.

Sally, one of our Facebook supporters, said:

‘They are delightful, easy to read, but totally optimistic and life-affirming books which are ideal when you are not feeling up to coping with life.’

(Abacus, 2004)


3. Mummy’s Lump, Gillian Forrest

Mummy's Lump‘Even though I am an experienced child psychiatrist, I was very unsure how to talk to my children about my diagnosis. Nobody asked if I had any problems with explaining what was happening to my children, everything was focused on my condition.’

After going through breast cancer with two children, aged five and seven, Gillian Forrest decided to write a book with Breast Cancer Care to help other parents in a similar situation.

Mummy’s Lump follows Elly and Jack as they learn of their mother’s diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer, written and illustrated as a children’s book that you can download from Breast Cancer Care.


4. The C Word, Lisa Lynch

The C-Word'Carrie Bradshaw fell in Dior, I fell in Debenhams… It was theatrical, exaggerated, a perfect 6.0. And it was Significant Moment #1 in discovering that I had grade-three breast cancer.'

After being diagnosed with breast cancer aged 28, Lisa turned her ‘frustrating, life-altering, sheer pain-in-the-arse inconvenience’ of getting breast cancer into writing.

(Arrow, 2010)


5. Swing Time, Zadie Smith

Swing TimeThe ever-popular Zadie Smith returned last year with her most recent novel, Swing Time, that was hailed as one of the top books to read in 2016.

The story follows a friendship between two girls, and the pressures and strains between them, as they explore race, music and culture in London and West Africa.

Smith explores how our friendship, passions and past history shape us, and the importance they play in our lives. 

(Hamish Hamilton 2016)


6. I Felt a Right One, Karen Tighe

I Felt A Right One‘Whilst in the bath I lay back and take a look at my ‘bigger than I would really like’ body and focus on my chest… I put my glasses on and have a really good look, then start to gently feel my whole right breast. I feel the left one for good measure and can definitely detect a lump on the right side.’

Karen wrote her amusing and heartfelt telling of her experience to try and make cancer seem a little less frightening to others going through breast cancer, while also raising money for St Luke’s Hospice and Breast Cancer Care.

(Matador, 2013)


7. It's all just rock and roll, Alex Jagger

It's All Just Rock And RollA story of love, life, happiness and hair.

Jagger was diagnosed with breast cancer when her daughter was four, her job full-on, and life running at full-speed.

She tells the story of trying to keep her head (and hair) 'when the rest of the world is going mad' - and finally finding 'your very own sunshine.' 

(CreateSpace, 2016)


8. Outlander series, Diana Gabaldon  

OutlanderThe Outlander series explores history, romance and adventure through time travelling tales.

The novels begin with Claire as she’s transported back to the 18th century where she bumps into a far-off relative.

Victoria, one of our supporters who recommended the series, said:

'Reading for me has always been about pure escapism and this has become really important during my treatment. It really helps me to forget for a while, and keeps my mind occupied. It stops me from over-analysing every twinge or new sensation. It's just a little bit of quiet in my day (or night, when I'm the only one in the house awake!)'

(Arrow, 2015)


9. Tea & Chemo, Jackie Buxton

Tea and ChemoAt the age of 45, Buxton was diagnosed with breast cancer. She chose to write about her experience to help others also diagnosed realise that they 'don't have to be defined by their cancer'.

With all proceeds going to three cancer charities, Buxton’s book aims to support others like her through an honest, emotional and amusing account of her own breast cancer experience.

(Urbane Publications, 2015)


10. Emotional Support Through Breast Cancer, Dr. Cordelia Galgut

Emotional Support Through Breast CancerGalgut explores the emotional effects of breast cancer, using stories from those she met as well as drawing from her own breast cancer experience.

From both a personal and professional perspective - as a psychologist - she shares practical ideas and tips for diagnosis, treatment and beyond.

(CRC Press 2013)



If you'd like to write about your own breast cancer experience, try using our writing guide.

Try the guide