I don’t support cancer charities that expect patients to smile, put on a pink ribbon, donate, and blame themselves for having cancer or for failing to recover. Instead, I support organizations that empower patients to question authority and make sure they are getting the best care.Janet Maker Ph.D.
Janet Maker, Ph.D.
I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011. It was found by accident on a chest x-ray, and I was shocked. There was no history of breast cancer in my family, and I never thought it could happen to me.
My second shock was encountering the medical establishment and its “standard of care.” They wanted me to follow their program of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and hormones even though those things don’t work for many people, and even though they have serious side effects. I wanted to make my own informed decisions, but, like most people, I knew next to nothing about breast cancer. I had to scramble to find what information I could under the pressure of time, knowing that the cancer could be spreading.
The personal became political as I encountered the cancer establishment with its one-size-fits-all standard of care, the corporations responsible for the carcinogens in the environment, research funded by the corporations, legislators who rely on corporate contributions to keep their jobs, and the cancer charities that take corporate money in return for pinkwashing.
“The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Breast Cancer” is the story of my journey and all the things I learned. In some cases I learned them too late; some of my decisions would have been different if I had known then what I know now. I realized that I had to write this book to empower others to take charge of their care.
As of now, I have no evidence of breast cancer, but I am at high risk for recurrence or metastasis, so I am not able to simply return to the life I had before. Conventional cancer care offers periodic tests to see whether the cancer has returned, but it does not offer anything beyond hormone therapy to prevent the cancer from returning. The problem is that if it returns it will likely no longer be curable. I had to go outside of conventional oncology, where I found a lot of evidence that changing one’s “terrain” can keep the cancer dormant. Working with an integrative oncologist, I follow a program of diet, supplements, exercise, mental/spiritual practices, and avoidance of environmental carcinogens.
I hold a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from University of Southern California, a M.S.in Social Work from Columbia University, and a B.A. in English from University of California, Los Angeles. I am retired from a career as a professor and author of textbooks in the field of College Reading, and my academic training was a big help in doing the research for this book. I live in Los Angeles with my two dogs. I love traveling, dancing, food, blues music, Spanish, and the outdoors.