This is a story about the powerful reach of Facebook. I posted to show its strength can go so much further than the ordinary purposes.
Breast cancer survivor Julie Wright heard about the breast cancer surgery options book I wrote after she read about it on a Facebook post from a friend, Dr. Tom Rifai. She soon bought a case of “Breast Cancer Surgery and Reconstruction: What’s Right for You,” and has begun to distribute them to cancer centers and women facing breast cancer surgery decisions. Today she posted a message of her goal to distribute as many as she can, along with the story below she found on the Internet that I wrote four years ago as I contemplated writing a book.
Julie is a true angel on earth. I feel she was sent to answer my prayer to use my writing skills for purposes that benefit others. Years ago, I went to the funeral of a famous UM doctor kiled by a mentally ill patient and taped his funeral program to my desk, with this message from Matthew: “I by my work will show you my faith.”
Patricia Anstett, a long-time Detroit medical writer and author of a unique new breast cancer surgery book, is one of five journalists inducted into the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame. They will be honored April 9 in East Lansing.
The others inducted are include two John Gallagher, Detroit Free Press urban affairs writer and author, and David Gilkey, a former Free Press photographer killed on assignment last year in Afghanistan for NPR; Detroit News investigator reporter Stephen Cain; and Mary Kramer, editor, Crain’s Detroit Business.
The award cited Anstett’s long career covering mammography improvements in Michigan and breast cancer advances; investigative reporting that led to the removal of the chief urologist at the University of Michigan for serious expense account violations; and her book, published this year with photography by Detroit Free Press photographer Kathleen Galligan.
Left: Anstett on assignment in San Antonio to watch breast reconstruction surgery.
Today, Emmy Rickert gave birth to her second healthy baby, 3 years after her diagnosis at age 24 with triple-negative breast cancer. Her story continues to inspire and provide hope to young women diagnosed with breast cancer in their child-bearing years. Emmy is the face on our Web site, as well as a prominent photo on the cover of our book. Congrats Emmy and Kelly Rickert.
Sara Erzen of Holt, MI is one of the amazing women telling her story in “Breast Cancer Surgery and Reconstruction: What’s Right for You.” She repeatedly told her ob during pregnancy with her third child that she had suspicious lumps in her breast, finally prevailing, but by then the tumor had become Stage 3, spreading to numerous lymph nodes. She had chemo during pregnant, went on to deliver a healthy baby, then underwent radiation and a single mastectomy with implant reconstruction, only to have it fail. She lives one-breasted, more focus on good health and a good life. Breast cancer is the most common tumor diagnosed during pregnancy, occurring in 1 of every 3,000 women who are pregnant.
The best way you can help educate others about breast cancer surgery and reconstruction issues is to ask your public library to carry “Breast Cancer Surgery and Reconstruction: What’s Right for You” (Rowman & Littlefield; 2016) Here’s a flyer to take with you, and a few reviews.
LIBRARY JOURNAL REVIEW:: This work by journalist Anstett and photographer and breast cancer survivor Galligan (she’s featured here in Chapter 4) highlights the options and advances made in breast cancer treatment for those facing the disease, with women sharing their experiences, in detail, in order to provide the most up-to-date information. Decision-making can focus on mastectomy over lumpectomy with radiation, contralateral prophylactic surgeries, reconstruction (a variety on the menu, including a Texas-based surgeon who performs robotically enhanced minimally invasive reconstruction), or none at all. Genetic testing is a driver of some procedures, and the efficacy of those choices is covered as well. Additional chapters address insurance, sexuality, and family responsibilities. The text overall is accessible, but ultimately the authors suggest women take the time to deliberate on the alternatives and resist pressure from the medical community to jump in without knowing all the therapies and their repercussions. VERDICT A straightforward addition to the breast cancer canon.(Library Journal)
Book List Review: In 2014, more than 230,000 women were diagnosed with breast cancer. More than 102,000 of them underwent reconstruction, more than 71,000 right away and nearly 31,000 later. Anstett, a veteran newspaper reporter, and Galligan, an Emmy-winning photographer and breast-cancer survivor, spent two years thoroughly investigating women’s choices: breast-sparing lumpectomies with radiation; removal of one breast with and without reconstruction; removal of two breasts with and without reconstruction; reconstruction with tissue, saline implants, and silicone implants; nipple-sparing operations; nipple tattoos; and preventive mastectomies. Fortunately, they ably spell out the pros and cons of each option, and they provide the full names of the survivors along with their photographs. Anstett and Galligan also include chapters on finances and insurance, sex and intimacy, and how to cope with feeling like ‘damaged goods’ after surgery. Shaded boxes provide invaluable additional information, including a Q&A with a genetics counselor and lists of resources, such as the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. This important, well-reported guide should empower women with breast cancer to figure out their own best treatment. (Booklist)
Michelle Michalak is a talented make-up and hair artist at the Flip Salon, Ferndale, MI, who worked with photographer Kathleen Galligan on photo shoots for the book.
Michelle has a way of bringing out a woman’s strength and beauty with her work, and humor to the job. Her work may seem behind-the-scenes but she was an important part of all of our photography sessions.
This is the first in a series of special thanks to women who have been an important part of this book.
One of the most captivating photos in our book, since repeated on program flyers, is of Donna Dauphinais, a Wayne State University administrator and breast cancer survivor.
Dauphinais has been part of the book from the beginning. Her story inspired author Patricia Anstett to write the book, after traveling with Dauphinais and her mother on a 10-hour road trip so Dauphinais could get nipple tattoos from famed tatoo artist Vinnie Myers. Dauphinais let Anstett watch many of her breast reconstruction procedures. Her story is featured in two chapters: The Nipple, the Ultimate Challenge, and Revisionists. We are grateful to Dauphinais for her openness sharing her story so others can learn.
Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital hosted the public launch of “Breast Cancer Surgery and Reconstruction: What’s Right for You” with a 75-minute program with three survivors and two members of the Henry Ford breast cancer surgery team. We hope to expand awareness of women’s breast cancer surgery options with programs like this. You can tell from the photos how supportive the crowd was. Thanks everyone for coming out in support.
Here’s the link to Kathleen Galligan’s moving story about her breast cancer diagnosis, reprinted in today’s Detroit Free Press. The newspaper’s web site, freep.com, also uses 17 photos (second link) of the wonderful women in “Breast Cancer Surgery and Reconstruction: What’s Right for You.” Kathleen’s photos truly brought the book to life and her story is one thousands of women will identify with. It explains how all cancer, even early, less problematic ones, are traumatic. I hope Kathleen and all women with breast cancer are showered in love, support and respect today.