Home 5 Articles and Reports 5 Authors who survived breast cancer

Authors who survived breast cancer

by | Oct 9, 2023 | Articles and Reports, News

Jennifer Hayden

Hayden is a writer and children’s book illustrator for graphic novels. Her novel was in 2015 The Story of My Tits, a memoir about her life and experience with breast cancer.

Her first book was an autobiographical collection called Underwire (2011) which was praised in The Best American Comics in 2013.

Jennifer Hayden is a mother of two; at the age of forty three she dealt with breast cancer and was in the process of writing her 2015 memoir.

Susan Cummings

Cummings is a twenty-year breast cancer survivor. She did a stint teaching in Cairo and Paris and has acted onstage in Manhattan.

At the age of forty-seven, she got a mammogram which showed “suspicious micro-calcifications”. Luckily it was the early stages and she was able to get a mastectomy. However, she wasn’t able to write and felt really down.

However, she got her inspiration back once she began writing about her experience of having breast cancer. The book, Adventures of a One-Breasted Woman, discusses her experiences with coping after having a mastectomy. It relays her health concerns, how relationships fall when adding a medical factor in it, and embracing the asymmetrical body that is beautiful.

Judy Blume

Blume’s career began in the 1960s. She resumed her college education in New York University and graduated with a BS in education in 1961 where she took writing courses at NYU.

She is a first-time author of illustrated children’s books with The One in the Middle is the Green Kangaroo (1969), bringing her into the limelight. In 1970 her coming-of-age novel, Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret, brought her more popularity.

Other books such as Deenie (1973) and Forever… (1975) discussed body image and teen sexuality.

At the age of seventy-four in 2012 she received a breast cancer diagnosis, and six weeks after the diagnosis she got a mastectomy. Day by day she regained her strength and continued to do what she loved in New York.

Victoria Lavine

As Victoria Lavine was writing her first romance novel, she was diagnosed with breast cancer this spring after unexpectedly finding a lump. The disease was “absolutely not” on her radar because she has no family history of breast cancer and is very healthy otherwise, she says.

“I regularly exercise, I eat an organic, homemade diet. I’m really the last person I would have thought to come down with this so young,”. 

The former graphic designer says she’s had a lifelong secret passion for writing. She found the romance genre to be especially comforting during the COVID-19 lockdowns, so she wrote her own romance novel, landed an agent and plans to submit her manuscript in the next couple of months. Oddly enough, one of Lavine’s main characters is a breast cancer researcher, so she had been researching breast cancer long before her own diagnosis: “I think my subconscious is trying to tell me something,” she said.

 

Alice Hoffman 

Hoffman discovered the lump on her breast the same day she had appeared on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” to celebrate the choice of her novel, “Here on Earth,” as an Oprah Book Club selection.

One minute she was smiling on camera before a viewing audience of millions; hours later, she was alone in her shower, overcome with dread.

 Her latest book, a thin, 83-page volume that is her first work of non-fiction, “Survival Lessons.” is meant not only for survivors of breast cancer, but for those who have experienced any type of trauma or loss in their lives.

“In many ways, I wrote ‘Survival Lessons’ to remind myself of the beauty of life, something that’s all too easy to overlook during the crisis of illness or loss,” she writes in the book’s preface.

It took 15 years from the time of her diagnosis for her to produce it.

Hoffman, now 61, reflected on the reasons why. Though she often spoke of her illness at fundraising events and with close friends, “I’m not a really public person,” she said. Nor was the woman who had given voice to so many fictional characters accustomed to writing in a voice that was her own.

“It’s really different,” she said. “I think that’s why it took me so long to write it.”

The book’s chapters elaborate on her lessons — everything from “choose your heroes” to “choose to accept sorrow” to “choose to forgive” — and include an unexpected smattering of recipes.

“When you’re cooking, you’re almost hyper-focused on what you’re doing. It’s like a zen activity, a way to remove yourself from your sorrow for a short period of time,”

 

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