A Serendipitous Review by Ellen Sue Spicer

When I visited Williamsport, PA in early December I had an opportunity to do two book signings. The first was for a First Fridays Celebration of the Arts at one of the five oldest bookstores in the country, Otto Bookstore, “a book lover’s paradise since 1841.” The second was at Freshlife, the largest independently owned natural products supermarket in Pennsylvania. I was in good company. Being in the town where I grew up gave me a chance to see friends, family, and neighbors even as I met new residents who were interested not only in breast cancer, but in the value of social critique for the betterment of our communities and society as a whole.

One such woman is Ellen Sue Spicer, a nutrition educator and freelance writer from Philadelphia who focuses on food and health and writes the blog Menupause. It happened that Ellen Sue used to live in Williamsport, was friends with Freshlife owner, Barb Jarmoska, and was in town for the weekend to attend the funeral of their mutual friend, Anna Baldwin. Anna had been a survivor of breast cancer for many years. When the cancer returned to claim her life, Anna spent her last days among friends and family at a warm hospice facility called The Gatehouse where, as it turned out, my mother had served as a volunteer coordinator and nurse until her retirement a few years ago. In fact, my mother was part of a group of singers who sang to Anna as she passed.

As all of the events and people came together, I was reminded again that coincidences really are the way things happen. And, maybe they’re not coincidences at all. Interesting words from a sociologist, I know. When Barb Jarmoska wrote “Mourning a Loss, Proclaiming a Message” in her daily newsletter to announce both Anna’s death and the coincidental event of my book signing, she said:

“Saturday, December 4th, the universe has provided serendipity worth pondering…Two women who never met – but whose lives have, and will, touch many minds and hearts.”

I knew that day that something was brewing. There are just too many connections to overlook. I was reminded that there are many, many people who hold the high intention of compassionately and critically working toward the social good. I know that cancer, that “serial killer” that Sandra Steingraber describes, affects too many people and that our suffering from the disease can either distract and overwhelm, or it can move us toward greater clarity about what to do  – both for ourselves, and for our communities. I knew, and I know, that a critical mass is building that demands evidence-based understanding of this disease in addition to the passion it will take to act in accord with that understanding. I know that in 2011, the tide will turn.

As it turns out, Ellen Sue Spicer also happens to be the mother-in-law of my new editor at Oxford, Maura Roessner, who sent her Pink Ribbon Blues for review. Here is Ellen Sue’s review.

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"women urged to get screened because it might save their lives. But that’s only 1 possible outcome, and it’s the least likely one" @cragcrest cutt.ly/jei8WJr

“Pink Ribbon Blues”

Paperback includes a new Introduction on fundraising controversies and a color insert with images of, and reactions to, the pinking of breast cancer (2012).

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"Seeing clearly through the pink haze" Toronto Sun

*Sad face*: Being happy does not help you live longer" New Scientist

How should we address breast cancer when norms continually change? The Guardian

Your Fun 'No Bra Day' Photos Are Overshadowing Terminal Breast Cancer Patients Broadly

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NFL, Pink Ribbons Not Enough to Win over Women CNN

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Angelina Jolie and the 'Breast Cancer Gene' KCRW

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Amid Breast Cancer Month, Is there Pink Fatigue? NPR's All Things Considered

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Pink Ribbon Culture and Breast Cancer The Kojo Nnamdi Show

The Big Business of Breast Cancer
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Pink Inc. Has Many Starting to See Red The Sacramento Bee

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Komen Pink Ribbons Raise Green and Questions USA Today