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After the Cure

by Emily K. Abel Saskia K. Subramanian

2009 Choice Outstanding Academic Title2009 Association of American University Presses Award for Jacket DesignChemo brain. Fatigue. Chronic pain. Insomnia. Depression. These are just a few of the ongoing, debilitating symptoms that plague some breast-cancer survivors long after their treatments have officially ended. While there are hundreds of books about breast cancer, ranging from practical medical advice to inspirational stories of survivors, what has been missing until now is testimony from the thousands of women who continue to struggle with persistent health problems.After the Cure is a compelling read filled with fascinating portraits of more than seventy women who are living with the aftermath of breast cancer. Emily K. Abel is one of these women. She and her colleague, Saskia K. Subramanian, whose mother died of cancer, interviewed more than seventy breast cancer survivors who have suffered from post-treatment symptoms. Having heard repeatedly that "the problems are all in your head," many don't know where to turn for help. The doctors who now refuse to validate their symptoms are often the very ones they depended on to provide life-saving treatments. Sometimes family members who provided essential support through months of chemotherapy and radiation don't believe them. Their work lives, already disrupted by both cancer and its treatment, are further undermined by the lingering symptoms. And every symptom serves as a constant reminder of the trauma of diagnosis, the ordeal of treatment, and the specter of recurrence.Most narratives about surviving breast cancer end with the conclusion of chemotherapy and radiation, painting stereotypical portraits of triumphantly healthy survivors, women who not only survive but emerge better and stronger than before. Here, at last, survivors step out of the shadows and speak compellingly about their "real" stories, giving voice to the complicated, often painful realities of life after the cure.This book received funding from the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

Hearts of Wisdom: American Women Caring for Kin, 1850-1940

by Emily K. Abel

Drawing upon a wealth of diaries, letters, and case records from hospitals and social service agencies, the author examines the shifting roles of caregivers between 1850 and 1940. In addition to the diaries and letters of literate white woman, she turns to slave narratives from the antebellum south and records from health-care agencies serving American Indians during the first part of the 20th century. Abel shows that women in the 19th century gained self-esteem and status through their knowledge of home remedies and nursing techniques. The medical profession gained strength with the discovery of microbes and the development of medications to treat specific diseases. During the 20th century professionals discredited women who provided health care at home. One chapter discusses mothers of children with epilepsy or mental retardation, who were pressured to place their children in institutions and to sever emotional ties with them. Another chapter explores the shift from American sign language to oralism in the education of deaf children, and the impact this had upon mothers. Abel concludes by looking briefly at the current trend to return more and more caregiving to the home.

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