Hearing the Stream, A Survivor's Journey into the Sisterhood of Breast Cancer
author, Diane Lane Chambers
The National League of American Pen Women
quarterly magazine, The Pen Women, Summer 2013
Book Review by Ariel Smart, Santa Clara Branch, CA
"I am in the Bodleian Library, England, after having read Diane Lane Chambers remarkable and courageous, memoir and research on breast cancer.This study is more than a factual discussion of this dreadful disease with up-to-date information from medical authority...
...In reading her intelligent, moving account of breast treatment and recovery, she certainly wins my support for this vital cause. Her memoir moves me toward action."
Review by Allan Burns, Editor, Colorado Springs, CO
The Sisterhood of Survivors
Like everyone else who receives a cancer diagnosis, Diane Chambers was initially shocked and scared. She knew only two people who had battle breast cancer: her grandmother and a judge in whose court she had worked as a sign language interpreter. Both had died. Despite daily flashbacks to her grandmother's tragic experience with disfiguring surgery, horrendous lymphedema in both arms, and burns from radiation, Diane accepted her diagnosis and began making decisions about what route to take with a competent team of doctors. She chose the only treatment that made sense for her: a mastectomy and reconstruction.
Six months later, as treatment and recovery began to fade like a bad dream, Diane began recovering her life. She had worked as a sign language interpreter since 1977 and published an acclaimed account of her experiences, Words in My Hands (Ellexa Press, 2005). but she soon learned that after cancer there was no going back to "life before cancer." There was only "life after cancer," and she quickly discovered it is not such a bad thing. She forged powerful bonds with a sisterhood of survivors--all people who had been through emotions and physical changes similar to her own. From Kim she learned the issues facing young single women with breast cancer. From Pat she learned how older women cope with diagnosis and treatment and from Sue how the mother of a baby struggled to save her own life. From Charlie she came to appreciate what men have to go through when diagnosed with a "female disease."
Above all, from the extraordinary Harriette Grober, who had been on chemotherapy for an unprecedented nine years, she learned about a determination she had never imagined and how to be thankful and happy in each moment. She also learned to take Harreitte's advocacy as a model and became involved herself in raising levels of political and social awareness about the disease. Currently, Diane is an active member of the National Breast Cancer Coalition and the Association of Breast Cancer Survivors and regularly participates in workshops, symposiums, and webcasts on cancer.
Hearing the Stream, the fruit of all she has experienced and learned as a cancer survivor, is an inspiring book that weaves together her own story and those of five others, thereby providing multiple perspectives on a complex disease that can be a different as the individual people dealing with it. As Dr. Tim Byers of the University of Colorado Comprehensive Cancer Center says, "Accounts such as this of the human toll of breast cancer motivate me as a researcher--and should motivate us all--to redouble our many efforts to reduce further and someday eradicate this disease."
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