One-third of women run a lifetime risk of developing cancer, and studies have shown that lesbians are especially at risk. They often don't access healthcare because of homophobia in the medical establishment and inadequate insurance coverage. With its diversity of views and experience, Coming out of Cancer includes contributions from Audre Lorde, Ruthann Robson, Pat Parker, Rachel Carson, and Dr. Susan Love and offers information and support for survivors, loved ones, and community activists.
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While the term "epidemic" is slightly misleading, according to Dr. Susan Love (interviewed in this collection), lesbians may indeed be at a greater risk for breast cancer because they are less likely to get pregnant, and early pregnancy helps prevent the disease. In addition, editor Brownworth writes, "Our experiences with sexism, homophobia and racism make it less likely for us to seek out medical care." Brownworth, a medical reporter and author (Too Queer: Essays from a Radical Life, etc.), has collected stories, memoirs, poetry, graphic art and articles written by and about lesbians with cancer. The volume opens with a selection by the late poet Audre Lorde, whose Cancer Journals were among the first writings to bring breast cancer out of the closet. An excerpt from Ellen Leopold's collection of Rachel Carson's letters to her physician documents the environmentalist's struggle to understand her disease (the author of Silent Spring saw a connection between pesticides and cancer). Exceptionally moving is "Who Killed the Shark?" in which Brownworth pays tribute to an early lover who endured a long, painful death from colon cancer because she was too poor to have access to competent medical attention. Paula Berg, a health law professor, provides clear information on how to obtain adequate health insurance for cancer treatments. Joan Nestle, co-founder of New York City's Herstory Archives, describes her battle with colon cancer, and there is a moving and erotic excerpt from the novel Murder at the Nightwood Bar by Katherine V. Forrest. Covering a broad range of experiences, this is a rich and useful collection that will have no trouble reaching its target market among lesbian readers. (Oct.) FYI: All proceeds from this volume will be donated to the Mautner Project for Lesbians with Cancer.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Journalist and lesbian activist Brownworth has edited a highly subjective and personal collection of fiction and nonfiction by 30 lesbian writers who have been (or whose characters have been) diagnosed with cancer. Among these well-respected writers is the late Audre Lorde, represented by an excerpt from A Burst of Light (1988), which describes her search for an alternative therapy for breast cancer in the mid-1980s and the obstacles presented by the medical establishment. Excerpts from letters by Rachel Carson to her physician, in which she deals with her breast cancer in a scientific and detached style, make for riveting reading. In a 1999 interview, oncologist Susan Love discusses whether lesbians actually are at increased risk for breast cancer. The trend toward consumer empowerment, as well as caregivers' heightened awareness of the need for cultural competence and sensitivity to lesbian and trangendered patients, highlights the progress that has been made in just a few short years. It should be noted that this book was compiled as a benefit for the nonprofit Mautner Project for Lesbians with Cancer in Washington, DC. Because it includes poetry, fiction, and a history of lesbian cancer activism, this book is recommended not just for large consumer health libraries but also for collections in women's and lesbian studies.DMartha E. Stone, Massachusetts General Hosp. Lib., Boston
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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