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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Breast cancer and the rhythm of life, 9 Mar 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Courage, Brave Amazon: One Woman's Spiritual Journey Through Breast Cancer (Paperback)
The author, at the age of 48, was suddenly diagnosed with malignant breast cancer. Thereafter she went through the whole procedure of confirming tests, biopsies, a full mastectomy, then chemotherapy followed by radiotherapy, and finally started the 5-year obstacle course of the drug Tamoxifen.
The first time cold reality strikes is when a consultant says to you, "Unless we operate you will surely die quite soon." Any one who has been in a similar position will recognise the emotional turmoil Chrissie describes as you prepare yourself and your loved ones for what might happen; the neck aching tension of not mentioning the tests, when you're waiting for the results, not least to sons, daughters, parents. Perhaps, you kid yourself, they may, just may, be negative. What makes me different from everyone else? Then comes the sheer horror of knowing you've reached the moment of truth. Perhaps the final one. No room for cowardly white, placatory lies here, because you could be caught out. There's no putting a band-aid on this one, of easing their pain.
Every woman reacts differently in this situation but almost all detest pity and negative responses. You feel like saying, yes I have to deal with this but you'll make it easier if you're not whinging all over my psyche. If my time's short, I don't need you to waste it like this.
Because what's ahead is probably the most difficult period you'll ever experience which is succinctly described. The easy part is getting used to the idea you have a growth created by your own flesh which wants to 'eat' you to death. This kind of affection you can do without. Then accepting spurning this monster will involve removal of one of the 'tokens' of your femininity, which you've always taken for granted, arouses a defiance, an anger, previously no one ever thinks they were capable of.
Chrissie describes the importance of the lymphatic ducts and what the surgeon is looking for, prior, during and after surgery. She explains what it is like to wake up and find yourself with drips attached, drains and a thick pile of white dressings which under a gown give the impression nothing has happened at all.
Then comes the hard part. You have to live with the after-care. For many patients this is worse than the disease. Prior to the mastectomy they may have had a little soreness and some pain, but this has no relation to what happens to a patient who has chemotherapy. Along with exhaustion come incipient nausea, a craving for sugar and many other side effects. Chrissie was already suffering from a low white cell count which meant this was protracted longer than usual. Then it was necessary to move onto radiotherapy. Comparatively, physically this was a holiday, or would have been without the 60 mile round trip each day for three weeks.
Along the way came the wonder drug Tamoxifen. Chrissie is part of the small minority who have severe adverse reaction to this and was ultimately prescribed a different drug. The book discusses the side effects of Tamoxifen which is a valuable contribution to anyone who has no knowledge of this drug at all. Unfortunately, patients are not always informed of what they might expect. As a result, when the side effects really kick in, most women think they've developed another, probably fatal, illness. The reasons why this happens are informative and will give women sufficient knowledge and confidence to ask for a different drug.
"Courage, Brave Amazons" is not only about one woman's fight, as the author explains, "My breast cancer happened to both of us," and admits how lucky she is to have her husband Pete by her side continuously. Their loving, happy 27-year marriage was a bedrock to repel all invaders and they drew strength from each other throughout.

Also sustaining Chrissie was her closeness to nature, described through Druidic philosophy. She has long felt in tune with the rhythms of earth and organic life and greets each Solstice as another milestone and celebration of continuing life. This reviewer found this aspect of healing interesting. I have reviewed other works regarding cancer and often staunch belief of a religious nature has played a large part in a sufferer's march to health. Equally, being in remission myself, I know it is not a prerequisite of regaining life. Once I was called stubborn, now I'm just obstinate. What unites all breast cancer patients I've met is a common love of, and belief in, life. This is something which grows stronger with adversity. The knowledge you could have missed the rest of your life ensures no future second is wasted.
This is warm, caring work designed to help any woman who has faced, or faces the trauma of breast cancer. It is not stuffed with long medical terms; those, which exist, are explained carefully so it is eminently readable with no possibility of misunderstanding.
Thoroughly recommended and furthermore every book purchased provides a donation to Breast Cancer Care, the leading Charity providing information and assistance to sufferers in UK.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A medic's view on an excellent book, 6 Nov 2002
This review is from: Courage, Brave Amazon: One Woman's Spiritual Journey Through Breast Cancer (Paperback)
From Julie Southwell, retired university lecturer in Health Issues and Nursing Care:
This is a moving story of a couple's journey through breast cancer.
It clearly demonstrates the physical, psychological, philosophical and spiritual aspects in an easily readable and understandable way.
The book discusses Christine and Pete's relationships with all levels of medical, nursing and other members of the caring profession. It identifies the positive and negative aspects of diagnosis and all aspects of treatment, clearly demonstrating both their fears and their positive attitudes to Christine's care.
Their relationship with their daughter Lucy, her partner, and the couple's many friends is explored in a positive manner.
This book would be suitable both for people embarking upon this journey, their partners, nursing staff of all levels who care for those with breast cancer (both women and men), medical staff and those working as support staff.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiration, 17 Oct 2002
This review is from: Courage, Brave Amazon: One Woman's Spiritual Journey Through Breast Cancer (Paperback)
How can I sum up my feelings about Christine's book? ...
Well, first of all, once I started reading it I found I couldn't put it down. It is clearly written by someone with such a deep wealth of feeling. Something that cannot be bought, or boxed up (otherwise we would all want a box of it!). The book is not only about her illness, but also the way she looks at life - with such an open heart and enjoying all of life's little pleasures that most people seem to take for granted. The support and love she received, and still receives, from Peter cannot be expressed enough. He is a wonderful husband who has been with Christine throughout. The book clearly expresses the need for someone like Peter to support the patient. Christine was determined she would be able to cope with this challenge and the book will, I am sure, help many others who might have to go through this.
The book is an inspiration.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Courage Brave Amazon, 29 Nov 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Courage, Brave Amazon: One Woman's Spiritual Journey Through Breast Cancer (Paperback)
Re: Courage Brave Amazon
Some little time ago it was brought to my attention that Christine Rayner was to do a signing of her book Courage, Brave Amazon at Larners in my home town of Holt, Norfolk. Firstly, I would like to say what an absolutely delightful, very special person I encountered waiting to sign the book. We had a very open, albeit brief, discussion about our individual journeys through breast cancer, and I disappeared off home with my purchase. Somehow I knew instinctively that this book was one I should read without delay. So, that afternoon, I settled my youngest child to watch a film and I started to hungrily read Christine's book. From the start it evoked so many emotions - I did not realise then just how many tissues I would get through! Christine's words were easy to read but written with such depth of feeling that soon I found myself going through her experiences with her, wishing everything to turn out well for her and her lovely family. Her strength shines through right from the start and she also has the strength to write about the very difficult low times both for her and those around her. The humour that also shines through is just so enriching - I do not know of many people who could laugh as Christine did so soon after such an operation. Even before Christine had received the post-operative results she was talking about helping others and finding a purpose to her diagnosis. She writes with such insight into other people's emotions. Christine and her book are an inspiration for anyone who has come into contact with cancer and should be available as part of the recovery programme! For people just diagnosed, Christine's ability to describe her emotions make other people feel that their emotions, fears etc are normal - something that is so important. Christine has the ability to bring emotions into the open so the reader can relate to them and be comforted by her supportive words.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A survivor's story of courage, and love, 20 Dec 2002
By 
Pat Fish of Tattoo Santa Barbara "patfish" (Santa Barbara, Southern California) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Courage, Brave Amazon: One Woman's Spiritual Journey Through Breast Cancer (Paperback)
This book is most of all a love story, an amazing deep memoir of the time the author spent undergoing treatment for breast cancer and the way she and her husband faced it together.
I learned of the book when the author contacted me and asked to use one of my tattoo designs, a "Breast cancer ribbon and Celtic knot circle" as a frontspiece. Now that I have read her book I am honored to have been a part of it.
Christine Rayner is a rare spirit, endowed with the gift of acute perception. Her extremely sensitive nature caused her to experience depths of anguish and fear in this medical event, and her courage gave her the strength to write her inner feelings down to help others when they face the same trial.
This is a book for anyone who faces a medical crisis, their own or that of a loved one. If everyone had a support system like Christine's husband became, their lives would be blessed. With his help, and that of her network of friends, she emerged from the treatments a whole person, battle scarred and ready to go forth and do what she could to help others through similar circumstances.
If attitude is half of healing, and faith is half of love, this book stands as a testimony to the way Christine made a very conscious choice to believe that she would be healed. Despite her natural fears, she held to the belief that she would be well, and her reward is to be with us now to share her inspirational story.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An inspiration to women everywhere!, 17 Oct 2002
By 
T Riseborough (Kettering, Northants United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Courage, Brave Amazon: One Woman's Spiritual Journey Through Breast Cancer (Paperback)
I own this book and from the second I opened the front cover, I found it very difficult to put it down till I had finished it! It proves that different people cope with illnesses such as breast cancer in different ways, and with the right attitude you can fight and beat almost anything. I feel very proud of Christine and her family for the way they have coped with everything, and would recommend this book to all women everywhere.
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4.0 out of 5 stars student nurse review, 20 Nov 2002
This review is from: Courage, Brave Amazon: One Woman's Spiritual Journey Through Breast Cancer (Paperback)
A book to be understood on many levels,which is why, as a student nurse, I would recommend it as a core reading book for any nurse committed to holistic care.The author describes her book as a spiritual journey, an element often treated dismissively in nursing care and assessment, but an essential inner healing mechanism for the writer. Chrissie enters into quite explicit physiological detail, at pains to describe what is happening to her, how the cancer is treated, and her support networks.From a psychological viewpoint, we see the coping strategies employed throughout the passage of her illness, from diagnosis to now, intimate glimpses of grief, anger,pain,denial,and assimilation, emerging finally,the Amazon,the one-breasted warrior, who now continues her battle to offer help and support for others,in her work for the charity Breast Cancer Care.
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