- Purchase/rental options available:
This essay explores the reparative work of diagnostic retellings in breast cancer and BRCA memoirs (memoirs written by women who learn they carry a mutation predisposing them to develop breast or ovarian cancers). It considers four memoirists (Felicia Knaul, Melanie Norton, Masha Gessen, and Sarah Gabriel) as they illuminate initial moments of “finding out”—learning they have cancer or have tested positive for a BRCA mutation. These memoirists invite readers to appreciate the complexity of cancer as a lived experience. Writing about breast cancer and the risk of its development helps writers and readers alike to understand illness in greater depth, challenging some aspects of care and championing others.