Tag: breast cancer

So Much To be Done: The Writings of Breast Cancer Activist Barbara Brenner

When Barbara Brenner was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1993, friends recommended that she read Audre Lorde’s The Cancer Journals. That book, together with Lorde’s A Burst of Light, inspired her to become a breast cancer activist. Three years after her death from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) in 2013, So Much To Be Done. The… Read more →

Scars and the Female Body

By Cheryl Lemus

I have a scar just under my chin that I received as a young girl when I fell into a small bush with very sharp edged branches. The wound was very deep, and it bled like a broken faucet. Of course, I screamed and cried. My mother probably should have taken me to the emergency room, but she belonged to the generation that believed you only visited the hospital if you were dying. A bleeding chin did not meet the criteria, so I covered the cut with Aloe Vera and wore a lot of band aids. The cut took a long time to heal, and as I watched the redness fade, I was happy that the scar was just below my chin because no one could see it unless they looked closely. Even as a young girl, I understood that scars were unfeminine.

The Jolie Treatment

By Cheryl Lemus

In the past few days, Americans (and I am sure many people around the globe) have read Angelina Jolie’s startling announcement that she recently underwent a preventative double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery (and as I understand she will also have her ovaries removed). Like most people, I was awestruck by her bravery, her straightforwardness, and her honesty. As a scholar of medicine and gender and women’s history, I was instantly struck by how her melodic narrative described her agency as both a patient and a woman. Her op-ed also conveyed a dream of perfect medical care, family support, and clarity in making a very profound decision that would have a major impact on her future health. But as much as I marveled at her decisions (as did so many other individuals), my academic training immediately brought a level of cynicism that I could not easily dismiss (and I am not alone). I almost instantly began to think about Angelina Jolie the celebrity, not Angelina Jolie the common woman.