A Woman's Initiation: Women's Experiences with Breast Cancer and How It Transformed Their Lives.

Author:Cullison, Margaret
Position:Book review

Work Title: A Woman's Initiation: Women's Experiences with Breast Cancer and How It Transformed Their Lives

Work Author(s): Diana Murphy

Synchronicity Books

131 pages, Softcover $14.95


ISBN: 0977955605

Reviewer: Margaret Cullison

There's no denying that women fear breast cancer more than any other illness. This book calms that fear by demonstrating the profound changes that occur in women who experience the disease.

The author combines her narration of the stories of fifteen women with their own words. She writes: "Breast cancer is a female-specific mid-life initiation. It threatens all that traditionally defines a woman: fertility and motherhood, the vixen sexuality and maidenly beauty of youth."

Murphy wrote the book after supporting her best friend through recurring breast cancer that ended in death. With a master's degree in clinical psychology from Antioch University, she is a licensed psychotherapist in San Francisco, focusing on women with cancer. She encourages her clients to "use a breast cancer diagnosis as a springboard for finding a greater sense of self, and creating a more authentic, satisfying life."

Billie Sue turns people's heads when she enters a room, and she likes that attention. At age thirty-nine, her first mammogram revealed breast cancer that required a mastectomy and chemotherapy. Once recovered, she decided to help other women in her rural county by starting a foundation to support those with the disease: "The first cause we championed was the Wellness Center, which had lost funding and was in jeopardy of closing."

Gina was only thirty-two when a tumor was discovered following breast reduction surgery. During treatment she found solace in a support group. She says, "There's so much shame and secrecy about cancer...

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