After my op-ed on survivor stories in the media lacking sufficient science came out in the LA Times, Lesley Kushner contacted me. Lesley is the daughter of Rose and Harvey Kushner, both of whom are well known in the breast cancer community for first bringing Rose’s story, and passion, to the conversation about breast cancer in the 1970s through writing and advocacy.
It was Rose who ushered in the two-stage surgical procedure for breast biopsy and mastectomy. Before Rose, women went into the operating room not knowing whether the lump in their breast was malignant or whether they would awake without a breast.
Lesley offered to talk to me further about her mom’s work, and said that her dad would be happy to share his memories as well. I took them up on their invitation last week.
I immediately connected with Harvey and Lesley’s passion for cancer advocacy and their belief that Rose, if alive today, would have her head in the research literature and the laboratory to uncover the most recent findings about what causes breast cancer and the myriad of approaches to treating it. She wouldn’t, they assured me, be caught up in the pink, running races and putting a happy face on the disease.
Our conversation was rich and provided me with plenty of directions for further writing. While I wish I could have met Rose, who sadly passed away before I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1993, her example gives me faith in the power of words to make a difference.