Home Supporting someone with breast cancer

Her mother's breast cancer, and her own

CosetteCosette Member Posts: 652

I came across this thoughtful and moving story today and I thought I'd share it with you. In this deeply personal essay, author Kate Bolick talks about her experience with her mother's breast cancer as well as her own. Both of them were diagnosed quite young. The essay really highlights how much care has changed over the years and the role women have played in improving that care. I imagine that there are a lot of women like Kate's mum - loving, strong, and dedicated - and I know many of them are right here.

For most of my life, I had only one memory of my mother’s first mastectomy: On the day she returned home from the hospital, she took my little brother and me into the bathroom and lifted up her shirt. She was forty, he was six, I was ten, and the three of us looked at her reflection in the mirror rather than directly at her chest. The thick red scar where her right breast had been was a violent surprise, like a gash in an oil portrait of a mother and her children. She explained surgery, and cancer, and remission, and we asked questions. Then we all went out for pizza.

And so her illness became an everyday fact of our lives—though “illness” seems too loaded a word for a woman as healthy and vital as she was, all fresh green vegetables and swimming laps at the Y.W.C.A. three days a week. She never once made me worry, or feel afraid. My own breasts were just starting to develop, however, and, as puberty molded me into her same shape, I decided it just wasn’t possible to look and be so much like her and not also harbor the same disease. Cancer is like a secret that insists on being known.

Click here to read the whole story.



  • Jane221Jane221 Central Coast, NSWMember Posts: 1,183
    edited April 2016

    Thank you Cosette for posting this story, it was a profound read and has helped to cement in my own mind just how far we have come in supporting and treating people with breast cancer. Jane xx

  • Brenda5Brenda5 Burrum Heads, QldMember Posts: 2,408
    edited April 2016

    At least nowadays breast cancer is not treated like a shameful condition. Those poor women in the past, what they had to go through with virtually no support apart from immediate family.

    We don't feel very lucky with breast cancer but at least we can feel lucky in the support we can get nowadays and the shorter treatment times. Perhaps in the future we will be hailed as the last era of surgery and chemo and the future will hold just a simple injection of antibodies and the cancer is dead in its tracks?

  • CosetteCosette Member Posts: 652
    edited April 2016

    That would be amazing, Brenda. Due to the complexities of cancer, there may never be a one size fits all solution, but I'm confident that care will only continue to improve.

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