Monday, May 20, 2013

Prophylactic Mastectomy: Angelina Jolie Opens a Door on a World of Challenging Decisions

Angelina Jolie’s brave announcement in the New York Times last week that she has undergone a prophylactic mastectomy and reconstruction because of her high hereditary risk of breast and ovarian cancer has resonated loudly with other women who come from families with high cancer rates. Being a carrier of a deleterious mutation in a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene means that a woman faces a 56-87% risk of developing breast cancer and a 20-60% risk of developing ovarian cancer, both rates far above those faced by women in the general population. Many of the breast cancers occur at unusually early ages, so breast screening in women at high risk is recommended to begin at age 25 and women in screening programs are also advised to consider prophylactic mastectomy and prophylactic oophorectomy when they complete their childbearing.

 As the Cancer Genetics and Prevention Clinic Director of Psychology Research and Clinical Services and the author of Prophylactic Mastectomy: Insights from Women who Chose to Reduce Their Risk (Praeger, 2012), I have heard many women’s stories about how they came to the same decision Angelina made and how they have coped with the physical and psychological challenges which surgery created. The vast majority of women feel as Angelina said she did, grateful for the chance to avoid cancer and to be able to reassure her children that they would not lose her to that disease. Having lost a parent to cancer at a young age and having small children are two of the most common motivations for women to choose prophylactic mastectomy. What Angelina could not cover in her letter were the many dilemmas, challenges, decisions, problems and adaptations which a woman opting for prophylactic mastectomy faces along the way to her successful surgery and recovery. The 21 women I interviewed for the book talked openly about difficulties finding sympathetic doctors, countering well-meaning relatives who opposed the surgery, confronting innermost feelings about their breasts, figuring out how to explain this surgery to small children (one woman told her young children her surgery was like when their stuffed animals needed new stuffing!), and adjusting to a changed sexual experience and body image. The road to “saving my own life” or “feeling safe within my body” is often a bumpy one, leading to a good place, but sometimes requiring support from family, friends, and professionals along the way. Hats off to Angelina, for pointing the GPS down that road! She has made it much easier for other women to follow.

Andrea Farkas Patenaude, PhD, Director of Psychology Research and Clinical Services, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Author, Prophylactic Mastectomy: Insights from Women Who Chose to Reduce Their Risk (Praeger, 2012) 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Video Discussion with the Authors of African Americans on Television: Racing for Ratings

David J. Leonard, PhD, is associate professor and chair in the Department of Critical Culture, Gender, and Race Studies at Washington State University. Leonard has written Screens Fade to Black: Contemporary African American Cinema.

Lisa A. Guerrero, PhD, is associate professor in the Department of Critical Culture, Gender, and Race Studies at Washington State University. Guerrero is the editor of Teaching Race in the 21st Century: College Teachers Talk about Their Fears, Risks, and Rewards.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Interview with Bruce E. Johansen, Author of Encyclopedia of the American Indian Movement

What prompted you to write The Encyclopedia of the American Indian Movement? What "message" do you want to communicate?

Kim Kennedy White, the acquisitions editor for race and ethnicity, asked me to write an encyclopedia about the American Indian movement. Her idea excited me because I have known some of the principal people over many years.  I decided to include both AIM, as well as many allied groups that also fought for Native American rights beginning in the 1950s. People from many of these groups often made common cause.

For example, I was a member of Leonard Peltier’s first defense committee during the late 1970s, in Seattle. I also was the first to write about his case in a national venue (The Nation, September, 1977). My first book (Wasi’chu: The Continuing Indian Wars, 1979) described events during the “reign of terror” at Pine Ridge from 1973 to 1976.  I had witnessed some of the fishing-rights activities in Puget Sound as a reporter at the Seattle Times, and knew many of the participants. Kim’s invitation made me revisit all of this in a new way, as history.

What I want to communicate is the story of people deciding to demand justice and enforcement of treaty rights, and to do it in an historical context that enables everyone to understand a time that has influenced subsequent events.

What was the highlight of your research? In the course of your research, what discovery surprised you the most? What surprises readers/others the most about your research?

The highlight was learning more, as an historian, about people and events I had known or experienced, and reading other authors’ work on the same subjects. I have written, for example, about sterilization of American Indian women, and the effects of uranium on Navajo miners – both of which became objects of protests that brought them to a halt. My favorite part of writing is discovery of new information, followed by weaving of text. The book includes many personal stories that should make it more readable.

How did your research change your outlook on the American Indian Movement?

The research enriched my outlook more than changing it.

How have people reacted to your book and/or the ideas you set forth? Is it what you hoped for, or is there more work to be done?

Just about everyone I have told about this book wants to read it cover-to-cover, which is very unusual for an encyclopedia.

What's next for you?

I am writing and editing the Encyclopedia of American Indian Culture: From Canoes to Pow-wows with Kim. Also, I am writing two books in the Puget Sound area, one on the revival of the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, another on an amazing multi-ethnic organization, El Centro de la Raza that people re-built with their own hands in an abandoned school in Seattle. Both of these books are specific applications of the kind of self-determination that developed during the time that AIM was active.  El Centro and the Muckleshoots have been allied since the fishing “wars” of the 1960s and 1970s; the Seattle area is very multi-ethnic, and many people have been given to developing Martin Luther King, Jr.’s ideas of a “beloved community” that crosses ethnic lines. Both books thus are relevant to the United States as a whole because  we are becoming more ethnically diverse every day. El Centro was founded mainly by Latinos led by people who want to appreciate their own culture as well as everyone else’s. I’m Norwegian-American, and their historian.

Bruce E. Johansen is Jacob J. Isaacson University Research Professor In Communication and Native American Studies University of Nebraska at Omaha, having worked there since 1982, meanwhile producing 37 books, mainly in Native American studies and on environmental subjects. These include The Encyclopedia of Global Warming Science and Technology (2 vols., 2009), Global Warming in the 21st century (3 vols., 2006), and as co-editor (with Barry M. Pritzker) of the 4-volume Encyclopedia of Native American History.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Colonial Williamsburg’s Gift to the Nation Electronic Field Trip “Founders or Traitors”

Colonial Williamsburg’s Gift to the Nation provides teachers with unique resources to engage students in the study of citizenship and the values that shaped our nation. The Electronic Field Trip “Founders or Traitors” explores the later part of 1776, which were “the times that try men’s souls.” Join Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Edward Rutledge as they meet with British admiral Lord Howe, hoping to end the American rebellion peacefully. Meet the signers of the Declaration of Independence and discover the risks they took.

·         Available online 24/7 from May 1, 2013 to May 1, 2014
·         On-demand video streaming over the Web
·         Email John Adams
·         Interactive online games
·         Downloadable resources, such as the teacher guide and program script (PDF)
·         Comprehensive lesson plans

We hope you’ll take advantage of this opportunity to bring this exciting, relevant program into your school or home!