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About Patient-Centered Guides

Patient-Centered Guides is no longer an active publishing program for O'Reilly Media. While we aren't creating new books, all of the books featured on this site are in-print and available.

Patient-Centered Guides are a mix of medical, practical and emotional information, grounded in Western medicine, told by people who have been there.

As with our other publishing programs, this series grew out of recognizing a need for a particular kind of information. The writers and editors in this series have encountered illnesses that have threatened or changed their lives.

When your life is turned upside down, your need for information is great. You have to make critical medical decisions, often with what seems little to go on. Plus you have to break the news to family, quiet your own fears, cope with side effects, figure out how you're going to pay for things, and sometimes still get to work and get dinner on the table.

For help during this time--if you're like us--you turn to experts, other people in your lives, and books. When we were looking, we couldn't find exactly the kinds of books we wanted. Overview books give you a perspective. But how can a single book on cancer begin to address the needs of patients with pancreatic and skin cancers, with primary cancers and metastatic cancers, or pediatric and adult cancers? Books written by doctors give you some information. They describe a body part or system and particular surgeries or drugs in detail. But what about the rest of you? Memoirs written by a single patient are informative. They describe how one person responded to an illness, its impact on her emotions and family, her own healing. But it's just one story and might not be very representative of the stories of others.

Because we couldn't find what we were looking for, we've written books that contain the information that we would want to know in a particular situation. We mix:

  • Medical background for treatment decisions. There's no way a book can tell you the best treatment for you. However, we can give you information that can help you to intelligently work with your doctor to come to a treatment decision. We start from the viewpoint that Western medicine has much to offer, particularly in treatment of acute conditions. Where applicable, we discuss treatments that complement Western medicine, such as psychologic pain relief, acupuncture, or nutrition. When there are treatment controversies we present differing points of view.

  • Practical information. Once you've decided what to do about your illness, you still have to deal with treatments and changes to your life. We cover the kind of day-to-day practicalities that you find out from good nurses, knowledgable support groups, or hard-won experience. Things like how to get relief from nausea and get good nutrition during chemotherapy. Or how to deal with insurance claims or employment discrimination.

  • Emotional support. It's normal to have emotional reactions to a condition or illness that threatens your life or changes how you live. It's normal that the whole family is affected. We cover issues like the shock of diagnosis, living with uncertainty, and communicating with loved ones. Emotional issues are not only a quality of life issue. Many studies have shown that emotional support–whether participation in an expressive support group, belonging to a church or tight-knit community, having a close marriage or family–extends patients' lives.

Throughout the books are woven stories of patients who've been in the particular position you're in now. That way, you get more than one person's point of view. Although each person who speaks is different, there emerge threads of commonly shared experiences.

Each book is a little different in outlook, depending on whether the disease is chronic or acute, usually curable or incurable, life-threatening or life-changing, and so on. But for each topic, we have tried to write the book that we would want to read as a patient coming to the experience: the whole story.

It is our hope that in each of these books you will find both the information you're looking for and support for your journey.

Sincerely,

Linda Lamb,
Series Editor


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