cover image THRIVING AFTER BREAST CANCER: Healing Exercises for Body and Mind

THRIVING AFTER BREAST CANCER: Healing Exercises for Body and Mind

Sherry Lebed Davis, with Stephanie Gunning. . Broadway, $16.95 (288pp) ISBN 978-0-7679-0846-7

Former professional dancer Lebed Davis was an early advocate of exercise after breast cancer. In 1979, with the help of her two brothers, both physicians, she developed a dance-exercise program to help her mother regain movement in her arm following a mastectomy. Lebed Davis began teaching "Focus on Healing" classes to breast cancer survivors locally, and, following her own diagnosis in 1996, she brought the program to hospitals around the country. Her book, most of which is organized by quality of life issues such as "Emotional Recovery," attempts to bring the program to women at home. Most chapters present clear descriptions of stretches (with accompanying photos), dance routines (with music suggestions) and "healing visualizations or meditations." The "Combating Fatigue" chapter includes stretches such as "The Backstroke," designed to increase shoulder range of motion and limit fatigue from everyday movements. A dance routine offered in another chapter is called "The Showgirl Strut" and involves walking around the room swinging the arms "overhead like a showgirl with attitude." She also describes exercises for strength training and warm-ups for cardiovascular exercise, such as walking. The final section covers broader subjects like nutrition and coping with radiation. Not every reader will appreciate Lebed Davis's encouraging but sometimes unsophisticated tone, and those without dance experience may find it difficult to follow even the simple routines out of a book. Still, some women may find her focus on restoring both flexibility and femininity to be just what they're looking for. (Sept.)