Moving between journal entry, memoir, and exposition, Audre Lorde fuses the personal and political as she reflects on her experience coping with breast cancer and a radical mastectomy.
A Penguin Classic
First published over forty years ago, The Cancer Journals is a startling, powerful account of Audre Lorde's experience with breast cancer and mastectomy. Long before narratives explored the silences around illness and women's pain, Lorde questioned the rules of conformity for women's body images and supported the need to confront physical loss not hidden by prosthesis. Living as a "black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet," Lorde heals and re-envisions herself on her own terms and offers her voice, grief, resistance, and courage to those dealing with their own diagnosis. Poetic and profoundly feminist, Lorde's testament gives visibility and strength to women with cancer to define themselves, and to transform their silence into language and action.
About the Author
Audre Lorde (1934-1992) published nine volumes of poetry and five works of prose. She was a recipient of many distinguished honors and awards, including honorary doctorates from Hunter, Oberlin, and Haverford Colleges, and was named New York State Poet (1991-1993).
“This empowering compilation is heartbreaking, beautiful, and timeless...Lorde’s big heart and fierce mind are at full strength on each page of this deeply personal and deeply political collection.”
—Kirkus, starred review
“Grief, terror, courage, the passion for survival and far more than survival, are here in the personal and political searchings of a great poet. Lorde is the Amazon warrior who also knows how to tell the tale of battle: what happened, and why, what are the weapons, and who are the comrades she found. More than this, her book offers women a new and deeply feminist challenge.”
“Audre Lorde’s The Cancer Journals has helped me more than I can say. It has taken away some of my fear of cancer, my fear of incompleteness, my fear of difference. This book teaches me that with one breast or none, I am still me. That the sum total of me is infinitely greater than the number of my breasts. Should cancer of the breast be in my future, as it is in the future of thousands of American women each year, Lorde’s words of love and wisdom and courage will be beside me to give me strength. The Cancer Journals should be read by every woman.”
“Audre Lorde’s courageous account of her breast cancer defies how women are expected to deal with sickness, accepting pain and a transformed sense of self. (…) I found a different model of feminist power – not a sidestepping of sickness, but a defiant avowal of the reality of pain and respect for the transformed self it leaves behind.”
“Audre’s words of survival and courage became my new bible, shaping me into a bold warrior in the army of one-breasted women. What she reveals in The Cancer Journals allowed me—and legions of women—to confront the abyss, to draw nourishment, to share the mantle of her courage. When the need arises, I press Audre’s book on the next unwitting warrior. No one could have a better weapon.”