The Cancer Journals Critical Context - Essay

Audre Lorde

Critical Context

(Literary Essentials: African American Literature)

As she had hoped, her courage and the power she struggled for have inspired a number of other women. One in Three: Women with Cancer Confront an Epidemic (1991) is a collection of personal stories told by women who have had cancer. It is amazing how many of these women have found Lorde’s book and pay it homage. Sandra Steingraber’s “We All Live Downwind” documents whom she has responded to and uses Lorde’s ideas, especially Lorde’s concept that cancer is a political issue. This theme is also taken up in Sharon Batt’s essay, “Smile, You’ve Got Breast Cancer.” Batts writes about the difference in militancy between breast cancer patients and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) patients. Sandy Polishuk states in her essay that the first thing she did when she discovered she had breast cancer was to buy Lorde’s book. She reports the relief she found in agreeing with Lorde on the question of prostheses. The last essay in the volume, by Audre Lorde, is a selection from A Burst of Light (1988). The women who write in this volume are a small number of those who have received both comfort and direction from Lorde’s honesty and courage. Women with cancer are often immobilized by their own terror and, even worse, have no means to find one another. Lorde’s pioneering work, by revealing her innermost feelings about the disease and through her insistence that cancer must be battled in the same way as are racism, heterosexism, and...

(The entire section is 544 words.)