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Breast cancer isn’t always a ‘battle’

Photo: Design Cells/Getty

Two new books about breast cancer look at the disease in a different light

(Sarah Weinman/ Elemental) — Earlier this year, I was having drinks with my friend L. We hadn’t seen each other in quite a while because she had moved out to the West Coast, while I still live in New York. We were already close, but our friendship grew more rooted when she and I were diagnosed with breast cancer within weeks of one another during the summer of 2016.

Having each other as sounding boards to share fears and commiserate about surgery and treatment aftermath and side effects helped immeasurably. But what struck me then, and what I brought up again over cocktails, was how specific and individual our experiences were, and how “breast cancer” isn’t some monolith battle to be conquered and survived, but an illness to be treated and managed, subject to so many other internal and external forces.

Why, I wondered, and L. concurred, is American culture so obsessed with public displays of victory when the truth is so much more complicated and contradictory? (…)

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