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May 6

Compiled and Written by Irene Stuber
who is solely responsible for its content.
This version of Women of Achievement has been taken
from the draft of an unpublished book based on
Irene Stuber's files on women of achievement and herstory.
The full text of this episode of Women of Achievement and Herstory
will be published here in the future.


Rose Kushner and breast cancer


QUOTE by Susan L. Adkins and Andrea Martin.

Rose Kushner and breast cancer

      Rose Kushner died at age 60 in January 1990 of breast cancer. But because of her, thousands of women won't.
      Ruth Kushner gained national recognition in 1975 when she wrote about her battle with breast cancer in a book Why Me? What Every Woman Should Know About Breast Cancer to Save Her Life - a book that virtually ripped the hinges off the horrible way surgeons were treating women suffering from breast cancer.
      Treating might be the wrong word. Their "treatment" consisted of lopping off the breast and sewing up the incision with dark, ugly stitching in a seemingly haphazard way that left an ugly scar.
      And their attitude, with few exceptions, was and "don't you dare ask questions of us. Just pay at the desk on your way out."
      Although she was loudly condemned at the time, many of the suggestions Ruth Kushner made have been adopted by the medical community... including the less radical lumpectomy.
      She was awarded the Society of Surgical Oncology's James Ewing Award for outstanding contributions by a lay person to the fight against cancer.
      Her husband said it was poetic justice "because the society's members had booed her off their stage in 1974 when she challenged their standard treatments."
      She was still battling insurance companies to get them to finance mammograms at the time of her death. This is a battle that wasn't won for 20 years and only with the intervention of the federal government.
      When Ruth Kushner was diagnosed with a lump in her breast in the mid-1970s, the standard treatment was an immediate operation...often within hours. A woman was never given a choice of treatment or ever questioned about the extent of the amputation.
      Not wanting that, it took Kushner 18 phone calls before she could find a general surgeon to remove the lump and to find a breast cancer specialist to remove her breast when the lump proved cancerous.
      She survived more than 15 years - which is considered medically to be a full recovery.
      Because of Ruth Kushner's stand-up fight for the right of a woman patient to become involved in her treatment and be allowed to make her own informed decisions, thousands upon thousands of women are living full, productive lives today.       And women's futures are brighter because Ruth Kushner's solitary fight forced medical research on breast cancer ahead.

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B. 05-06-1829, Phoebe Ann Coffin, (aka Phebe Hanaford), first woman ordained in New England as a minister. PAC was an successful author in addition to being a Universalist minister.

B. 05-06-1831, Mary E. Clemmer Aimes wrote an influential column in the Washington, D.C. weekly the Independent. She was a women's rights advocate who believe in economic gain rather than suffrage. Her motto: "Women can live nobly without voting, but they cannot live without bread."

B. 05-06-1939, Margaret Drabble, British novelist who explores the fractured landscape of women's lives in modern England. She is also a biographer, playwright, author of children's books, and editor of The 5th Edition of the Oxford Companion to English Literature that for the first time included a representative number of women's works. The change, of course, offended many men who objected to the "lowering of standards!"
      Her novel The Millstone (1965) was the basis for the movie A Touch of Love (1969). Her novels have become increasingly "feminist" as she ages. She her works as social history, mainly about young women embarking on life and relationships.

B. 05-06-1950, Jamie Gorelick, deputy attorney general of the United States, was second in command to Janet Reno.

Event: 05-06-1952: the Methodist General Conference at its annual conference refuses to accept women as ministerial members.

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      "Women do not cry from physical pain. Instead we weep from pure anger. This woman cries for a country that in 1991 poured $2.2 BILLION into each B-2 bomber while it invested only $92.7 million in breast cancer research."
            -- Susan L. Adkins, "After Mastectomy," Ms. Magazine.

      "Until recently, breast cancer was one of America's best kept secrets. But now, it's time for us to STOP being quiet. You and I must end the outrageous acceptance of breast cancer as simply a risk of being a women."
            --Andrea Martin, Executive Director, The Breast Cancer Fund.

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