A cancer reading list from the author of 'Camp Chemo'

A cancer reading list
Camille Scheel turned to books to understand her metastatic breast cancer diagnosis.
Courtesy of publishers

Camille Scheel's battle with cancer began in 2007, when she discovered a lump in her breast.

That marked the beginning of years of uncertainty, dotted with surgeries, radiation, chemotherapy, hormone treatment and more.

She recorded her experiences in "Camp Chemo: Postcards Home from Metastatic Breast Cancer." Before she published her own book, though, she turned to others as she struggled to cope with her diagnosis.

The books below, Scheel said, "helped me better understand the medical, psychological and spiritual difficulties of living with a deadly disease. These books are recommended to anyone dealing with a serious life change." She shares the titles, along with notes about each recommendation.

Create a More Connected Minnesota

MPR News is your trusted resource for the news you need. With your support, MPR News brings accessible, courageous journalism and authentic conversation to everyone - free of paywalls and barriers. Your gift makes a difference.

Camille Scheel's cancer reading lists

"Man's Search for Meaning" by Viktor E. Frankl

The brutality of the Holocaust reveals each individual has choices in how to react to that which he or she can't control. After reading this as a college sophomore, my capacity for self-pity was never the same again.

"Close to the Bone: Life-Threatening Illness As a Soul Journey" by Jean Shinoda Bolen

When first enduring chemo, I felt as if my body and mind were no longer connected. Using mythology from various cultures, Bolen ushers readers into the underworld and safely back again with newfound wisdom and understanding.

"The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer" by Siddhartha Mukherjee

From the ancient civilization to today's cutting edge technology, Mukherjee provides a comprehensive view of cancer. A real page-turner, it reads like a whodunit of medical history and research.

"When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times" by Pema Chodron

This was the first book I was given shortly after my metastatic diagnosis. A Buddhist nun, Chodron provides insights on living well through adversity, regardless of your own faith tradition.

"What You Might Not Know: My Life as a Stage IV Cancer Patient" by Jennifer Smith

Also the author of "Learning to Live Legendary," Smith openly shares her story of facing metastatic breast cancer as the single parent of a small child. This was the first memoir I read about metastatic breast cancer, and I was so happy to know I'm not alone.

"Kitchen Table Wisdom: Stories That Heal" by Rachel Naomi Remem

These short, thoughtful, true stories are easily digested. Even when I had little energy or ability to concentrate, it held my interest, helping me gain insight one story at a time.

"Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End" by Atul Gawande

In this surprisingly not depressing book, Gawande explores death within a cultural context. Patient stories and Gawande's experience as a doctor provide an accessible way to approach the medical and emotional aspects of the inevitable.

"Dr. Susan Love's Breast Book" by Dr. Susan Love

Considered the Bible for breast cancer, this book is filled with clinical information and personal stories. It also devotes more pages to metastatic breast cancer than most books.