Twenty-five years ago, Dr. Susan Love and I were distant neighbors in the Jamaica Plain section of Boston. She was starting to develop a wonderful reputation at nearby Faulkner Hospital as the go-to doctor for women facing breast cancer, and I was a young feminist activist working with various women’s organizations on issues relating to women’s health, as well as a writer, editor and board member for a quarterly publication called Woman of Power Magazine. My accountant was a woman named Marjorie, another neighbor of mine, and she and her partner were friends with Susan and her partner. Woman of Power published a piece about Marjorie when she underwent artificial insemination to have a child. Susan must have been looking into the same thing around the same time, because her own daughter is all grown up now.
Well, what goes around comes around. At that time in my life, I did not, remarkably enough, ever imagine myself becoming a healthcare clinician. I was a writer and an administrator, and I dreamed of myself becoming famous through writing and journalism. I was in contact with quite a few FF’s back then (FF = Famous Feminist), so this was no mere pipe dream. While it was published, Woman of Power was distributed in, I think, 13 countries. I worked directly or indirectly then with groups like 9-to-5, the National Abortion Right Action League, and the Boston Women’s Health Collective, who published Our Bodies, Ourselves (their link, Our Bodies, Our Blog, is on my sidebar), and my friend Charlene, the Founder of Woman of Power, was a nurse. But it didn’t occur to me just then that I might ever work directly with women and men to help them live better and recover from illness and injury. And it certainly never occurred to me that I would one day be diagnosed with breast cancer myself.
So, here I am, not so young, coming up to the one-year anniversary of my diagnosis, working in home healthcare as a physical therapist. Last October, while I was still getting radiation, I spoke at the annual Women’s Health & Wellness Day, sponsored by our local hospital, where, among other edifying topics, I whipped out my new prosthesis to enthusiastic laughter and applause. Just a few days ago, I discovered that Susan Love and I have a mutual friend on Facebook, so I sent Susan a friend request, which she accepted. Tonight, my boss and I attended an open house for the comprehensive Women’s Health Center at our local hospital, and I found myself in the mammography suite where my adventure began eleven months ago, shaking hands with Marie McCormick, a nurse practitioner who is now in charge of the Breast Health Program there. We pow-wowed about how to improve the care provided to women and men with breast cancer in our community, intend to meet again soon, and plan to attend an event in a few weeks that is sponsored by the Rhode Island Breast Cancer Coalition. This event is about research into early breast cancer and features none other than Dr. Susan Love. You can download information about this event by clicking on the flyer.
I just love synchronicity, don’t you?
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