Why I Wore Lipstick to My Mastectomy
by Geralyn Lucas

St Martin's Press, New York, NY, 2004. ISBN 0312334451.
Reviewed by Lee Ambrose
Posted on 10/24/2005

Nonfiction: Body Language

Geralyn Lucas was 27 years old when doctors diagnosed her with breast cancer. Her career was in high gear. Her marriage to a young physician was solid. Her hopes of one day having a baby were ever-present. The last thing she expected to hear was that she had a diagnosis that she equated with only older women—breast cancer.

The 27 year old was a graduate from Columbia University School of Journalism and had secured a position as the editorial producer for ABC News' popular 20/20 show. She hadn't bargained for breast cancer to threaten her career, her hopes of becoming a mother, or her life. But that is exactly what happened.

In her poignant and refreshingly honest book, Lucas shares her emotional rollercoaster, her physical ups and downs and her walk through the treatment phases of her disease. Complete with the issues of chemotherapy side effects, reconstructive surgery, and marital strains, this book is gut-wrenchingly honest in its portrayal of a life turned upside down and inside out at the pronouncement of a life-threatening disease. It is also a totally life-affirming reflection on how one woman faced down the monster that is called breast cancer.

From 'victim' to 'survivor' to 'advocate' Geralyn Lucas walks us through the maze of a woman who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. While her focus is on the younger population with this diagnosis, this book is a healthy and honest glimpse into the real world of any woman who is dealing with the disease—and for anyone who is helping her deal with it—at any stage. Newly diagnosed women will be inspired, those going through treatment will nod in agreement, those who are disease free will applaud her work with survivors' groups, and family members will thank her for allowing them to peek into what might be going on inside their own loved one's head during the whole process. Geralyn voices for all women what most women do not dare to admit—their own fear, their vulnerability, their ambivilence.

Readers will cheer when she defiantly yet confidently swipes her lips with lipstick as she prepares to enter the operating room. They will continue to cheer as she returns time and time again to her source of feminine power and courage—her lipstick—to remind her of the hope and promise she carries deep within.

This is a must read for anyone whose life has been touched by breast cancer. Having read many books on the topic, I can honestly say that this is by far, one of the most candid and uplifting. Geralyn has become my heroine for she is a champion of the feminine powers in all of us!

After seven years as the editorial producer for 20/20, Geralyn became the director of original programming for Lifetime Television. She is a member of Lifetime's Stop Breast Cancer for Life initiative. She, her husband Tyler and daughter Skye (born after her cancer treatments) live in New York City. She is said to never leave home without her lipstick.

As if the wonderfully inspiring story is not reason enough to go out and purchase the book for yourself or someone you love, a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the book are donated to the Young Survival Coalition.

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