More condensed excerpts of celebrities sharing their cancer diagnoses from Reimagining Women’s Cancers.
Multi-Grammy winner rock singer Melissa Etheridge discovered the first sign of her breast cancer by feeling a lump in her left breast.
“I was like, ‘Whoa!’ And it was large!” she told AARP magazine at the time. “That little voice in the back of my head started going, ‘Is it cancer? Your father died of cancer. Your aunt died of cancer. Your grandmother, too. Your mother had cancer. Your cousin. Cancer. Cancer.’ You just can’t quiet the voice.”
To remove the tumor she had a lumpectomy. After it was discovered her cancer had spread to a sentinel lymph node. Melissa was then treated with chemotherapy followed by radiation therapy.
Melissa returned to her career with an outstanding performance at the 2005 Grammy Awards covering Janis Joplin’s “Piece of My Heart.” She was bald from chemotherapy and her performance became a symbol of empowerment for women struggling with and surviving breast cancer.
Etheridge has remained cancer-free for ten years, which she attributes to major changes in her life, including what she eats and how she deals with stress and making critical choices.
Former Good Morning America co-host, Joan Lunden, revealed her breast cancer diagnosis publically. She had a normal screening mammogram, but because of her history of dense breast tissue, she was also screened with a breast ultrasound, which ultimately revealed the tumor. A biopsy and pathologic diagnosis determined that she was suffering from triple-negative breast cancer.
After nine months of treatment, including sixteen rounds of chemotherapy, a lumpectomy, and six weeks of radiation, Joan’s doctors declared her cancer-free. Throughout the process she stayed in the public eye, hoping to use her cancer journey as an opportunity to inspire others to protect their health.
She kept a video diary of her treatment, did a series of reports on the Today show, and even appeared bald on the cover of People magazine. Joan has a streaming network dedicated to breast cancer and women’s health and wellness issues called “Alive with Joan Lunden”.
Joan share on the Today show, “I went from being a patient to being a survivor to being an advocate and really now a bit of an educator. When you get hit with something like this and you become part of this breast cancer world, it’s like a sorority that you don’t really want to join, and the initiation process is not so great. But, boy, once you’re in it, it’s so powerful and so compassionate. Everybody just comes to your support and aid, and the response I got on social media was so overwhelming and so healing that I really was taught the lesson of how important the power of support is to a patient.”
Reimagining Women's Cancers
“Information is empowering, especially when it’s dispensed in manageable doses. Reading about people coping with cancer—the same one you are dealing with—is not only educational and inspiring, it can save a life. Couple that with our fascination with celebrities and what we can learn from their experiences.”
This is how Michele R. Berman, MD, Mark S. Boguski, MD, PhD, FCAP, and David Tabatsky’s book, Reimagining Women’s Cancers: The Celebrity Diagnosis® Guide to Personalized Treatment and Prevention begins. Their book highlights the positive impacts celebrities can have on the public’s education of cancer. It is available on September 27, 2016 and can currently be preordered on Amazon.