The overwhelming burden of mass market cancer books

Mass market cancer memoirs and similar books are rarely blessed with good titles. In fact they are almost uniformly asinine. Searching the word 'cancer' at Amazon, I got 48,000 hits. I searched the first 600 for the standouts.

Keep in mind:
- No sacred cows here, dumb is dumb.
- Ridiculing the title should not be taken as ridiculing the book.
- They say don't judge a book by its cover but if that's all I'm judging, we should be fine.


Good news for dads! They don't get cancer. Rather, I found no books that talked to kids about dad's cancer. It's another story for poor mom. Titles include:

Sammy's Mommy Has Cancer
Michael's Mommy Has Breast Cancer
Our Mom Has Cancer
Mom's Cancer
"Don't Give Up," Said Mom
Tickles Tabitha's Cancer-tankerous Mommy
Mom and the Polka-Dot Boo-Boo
When Mommy is Losing Her Hair It Means the Medicine is Working
Mi Mama Tiene Cancer!
Grandma Kathy Has Cancer

And finally My Mother's Breast, a book for daughters. Again fathers are ignored (but who can see a boy toting "My Father's Testicle"), but this cover is unnecessarily odd. It's like an early 20th century oil painting of a mother suckling her daughter, who is well past suckling age.


The most popular type of cancer book falls in this category. These cheeky, disdainful titles sell well in part because they seem to challenge the reigning orthodoxy, that cancer is ultra serious. I think they're annoying, others actually find them offensive.

Cancer is a Bitch: I'd Rather Be Having a Midlife Crisis
Cancer Vixen
Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips
Not Now I'm Having A No Hair Day
It's Not About the Hair
Humor After the Tumor
The Adventures of Cancer Bitch
Woman Cancer Sex
Man Cancer Sex
Finding the "CAN" In Cancer (it took four to write this one)

And my least favorite, I'd Rather Do Chemo Than Clean Out the Garage.


Anything that equated cooking or nutrition with curative cancer treatment. Eating right is important for cancer patients, because maintaining good health is important. But the nutritional industry is already rife with so much nonsense; when they dip into cancer they're really just exploiting the fear and despair of sick and desperate people.


Are You There God, It's Me Cancer
Cancer, Chemo, Koolaid, Fuck! By Dr. Seuss


The Courage Muscle: A Chicken's Guide to Living with Breast Cancer

A courage muscle sounds gross to me. Plus when I first saw this I thought it was written for chickens.


Cancer Schmancer.

Shame too because I like Fran Drescher, but that transparent title is just so irreverent and laugh-it-off and Drescher even poses on the cover with a 'Hah!'

This kind of display makes me uncomfortable in the same way that survivors give thanks to God for saving them even while others are dead or dying.

By Ross Bonander
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