Coming Out of Cancer: Writings from the Lesbian Cancer Epidemic

Victoria Brownworth, Editor
Victoria Brownworth, Editor Seal Press (CA) $14.95 (256p) ISBN 978-1-58005-044-9
Reviewed on: 09/04/2000
Release date: 09/01/2000
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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.
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