Taking Charge of Breast Cancer
Publication Year: 2008
Published by: University of California Press
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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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List of Tables
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I have discussed my experiences with breast cancer and the reasons I came to write this book in the introduction, so I will not repeat them here. I will only add that writing about breast cancer is one of the most rewarding and difficult things I have done. As I told their stories, I could remember every woman I wrote about, ...
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Writing a book about women’s experiences with breast cancer allowed me to come to terms with my own diagnosis in December 1997. Like many of those I interviewed, I had not seen breast cancer on my horizon. My mother was still alive and physically robust in her nineties, as were my father and his sister. ...
1. Telling Stories
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Jo-Ellen’s breast cancer story takes the form of a woman’s worst nightmare. Her adoptive mother was a forty-year survivor, so Jo-Ellen knew the disease was something that women might get but could also recover from.1 Upon finding a lump at age twenty-eight, Jo-Ellen went to a gynecologist who told her that it was only a cyst, ...
2. Following the Doctors’ Orders
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Like most of the women I interviewed, Carla, a single mother of three young children, told a well-rehearsed story, beginning with the time before she was diagnosed, moving through treatment, and ending with life after breast cancer. Such accounts often reflected the stories about cancer that women had seen in the media or heard described by others. ...
3. Patients and Doctors as Partners
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When Joann, a thirty-four-year-old mother of three children under age seven, learned she had breast cancer, she was not surprised at being diagnosed so young. Her family had a history of breast cancer, including Joann’s mother, her mother’s sister, and her grandmother, and so she had long assumed she had inherited the risk.1 ...
4. Faith in the Ultimate Authority
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Bella, an African American woman in her sixties, looked much younger with a spectacular figure and lovely face. She had worked with cancer patients, so she knew that breast cancer could happen to anyone, and she checked herself “at least once a week.” She reported that the lump leading to her own diagnosis “just stuck right out of nowhere.” ...
5. Opposing the Mainstream
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Before her breast cancer diagnosis, Violet, a fifty-year-old American writer living in Greece, had little confidence in the medical profession. However, since her mother’s death from breast cancer some years earlier, she had become anxious about her breasts and had started having regular mammograms. ...
6. The Assault on the Breast
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Amanda, the youngest woman in my study, was diagnosed with breast cancer at age twenty-six. Amanda, who worked in information technology, responded to her diagnosis as a biomedical expert. She first worried about her chances of survival, and then, to reassure herself, she learned everything about her disease. ...
7. Bodies after Cancer
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After their treatment for breast cancer, the women I interviewed remained acutely aware of the changes to their breasts every time they looked in the mirror. Postlumpectomy breasts usually showed the damage clearly. For women who had a mastectomy, reconstruction could lessen its impact, ...
8. Breast Cancer Activism, Education, and Support
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In the New York Times Sunday Magazine for December 22, 1996, Lisa Belkin asked how breast cancer had become “this year’s cause.”1 With the benefit of hindsight, the only problem with her question is that she should have asked how breast cancer became the cause of the 1990s. We might also ask why it remains so prominent. ...
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Of my ninety-six respondents, three had metastatic breast cancer at the time of the interview.1 These women were not able to put their illness experiences behind them; the illness stretched before them endlessly. All three had response patterns that differed from those of other women in this study, ...
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Page Count: 336
Publication Year: 2008