In 1994 Twinkle Chisholm produced the documentary "The Faces of Breast Cancer" following the lives of five women and their battle with cancer.
This year alone, 182,000 women will find out that they have breast cancer. All women wonder how and why, but for each woman the diagnosis means something different. In The Faces of Breast Cancer, you will meet ordinary women who face extraordinary circumstances. Just a few of the many faces of breast cancer.
Eileen Gray was diagnosed with breast cancer at 23. After being sent home by two different doctors who told her 'she was too young to have breast cancer'. By the time she was diagnosed, her tumor was so large she had to have chemotherapy to shrink the tumor before she could have surgery. She struggles with the decision of whether or not to try to save her breast. In the end Eileen had a mastectomy.
Bonnie Stellmacher was diagnosed with breast cancer years ago. When she found out she had cancer in one breast, she told the doctors to remove the other. As it turned out, that was the right decision for Bonnie, there were cancer cells in that breast too. After years of living with a double mastectomy, Bonnie found the love of her life and wants her body back. She undergoes 14 hours of surgery to have a double 'tram flap'.
Terry Tempest Williams and her cousin Lynn Tempest talk about the epidemic of breast cancer which has invaded both sides of their family. They discuss the pros and cons of genetic testing for breast cancer in the poetic style we expect from Williams. Terry and Lynn say they don't need science to tell them how to live, but genetic researchers at the University of Utah say there are millions of women who are anxiously waiting for the information. (The documentary was shown just prior to the discovery of the BRCA-1 gene, which is acknowledged at the end.)
Michelle Thomas grew up amongst the red rocks and atomic fallout of Southern Utah. Her mother, Irma Thomas, was one of the outspoken critics of testing and led the fight to stop it.
"Hasn't anyone noticed everyone is dying and it's that damn fallout," Irma used to say. Irma's worst nightmare came true. Her daughter, Michelle, was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 40 years old. Today Michelle is speaking out - we join her at a meeting of other women who have had breast cancer.
Betty Pittman is also speaking out. She is a member of the board of the Breast Cancer Coalition of Utah. Although Betty believes politics is one way to get the word out, she's more conservative than Matuschka, the icon of the more radical side of the politics of breast cancer. Matuschka bared her mastectomy scar on the cover of the New York Times Magazine.
It seemed like every time Frieda McCoy thought she had one lump under control another one would appear. She and her husband Jerry were really a team. He did a lot of research and together they fought to get the latest treatments for Frieda, including a bone marrow transplant.