They Survived Breast Cancer and They’re Mad as Hell

Macleans did an excellent write up about the issues raised in After the Cure: The Untold Stories of Breast Cancer Survivors (NYU 2008) by Emily Abel and Saskia Subramanian . If you want to learn more, check out the website for the book.

Breast cancer awareness month, also known as October, came and went with scant attention paid to a new, groundbreaking book: After the Cure: The Untold Stories of Breast Cancer Survivors by Emily Abel and Saskia Subramanian. Then again, stories of women coping with life-altering, post-treatment maladies have remained “untold” for a reason. As Abel, a professor of health services and women’s studies at the University of California, and Subramanian, a sociologist at the UCLA Centre for Culture and Health, point out, the topic runs counter to the “celebratory breast cancer culture,” one filled with inspiring narratives of good health and spiritual rejuvenation.

That wasn’t Abel’s experience after radiation and chemo for breast cancer in 1993. Her doctor told her recovery would take a year; to this day she still suffers from fatigue. She began noticing a “cone of silence” around the subject of health when talking with other survivors: “Everybody was supposed to say ‘I’m fine, I’m great’ and of course we were fine—those of us who survived were really very lucky and we did consider ourselves fine. But we began to realize we also had other problems that no one was paying much attention to.”

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