Taking Charge of Breast Cancer

Taking Charge of Breast Cancer

Taking Charge of Breast Cancer

Taking Charge of Breast Cancer

Synopsis

Vividly showcasing diverse voices and experiences, this book illuminates an all-too-common experience by exploring how women respond to a diagnosis of breast cancer. Drawing from interviews in which women describe their journeys from diagnosis through treatment and recovery, Julia A. Ericksen explores topics ranging from women's trust in their doctors to their feelings about appearance and sexuality. She includes the experiences of women who do not put their faith in traditional medicine as well as those who do, and she takes a look at the long-term consequences of this disease. What emerges from her powerful and often moving account is a compelling picture of how cultural messages about breast cancer shape women's ideas about their illness, how breast cancer affects their relationships with friends and family, why some of them become activists, and more. Ericksen, herself a breast cancer survivor, has written an accessible book that reveals much about the ways in which we narrate our illnesses and about how these narratives shape the paths we travel once diagnosed.

Excerpt

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. I had heard numerous stories of ancestors with similar longevity. So strong was this theme in my family that, although both my brother and I had experienced the same life-threatening illness as adolescents, I had long believed that old age was the only thing that would kill either of us.

Like many privileged women with access to good health care, I was health conscious. As part of my health regimen, I had annual mammograms and I performed monthly breast self-examinations. I did not do so out of a belief that I was at risk for breast cancer, and I never expected to . . .

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