A Renewed Sense of Self After Cancer

Q: My wife lost a breast to cancer. Chemotherapy took six months, during which she basically lay on the couch and had no energy. It’s now 16 months after chemo and she’s still on the couch. I can’t get her to get up and do much of anything, including sex. We have no money to do any traveling since Social Security is all we get. Any ideas? Dr. Pepper Schwartz: She sounds as if she might be depressed. It is …

Evvie Heilbrunn: Climbing for a Cause

Evvie Heilbrunn is no shrinking violet. Four days a week the two-time breast cancer survivor hikes at least two hours or works out on a treadmill or elliptical machine. She sweats it out with a personal trainer another two days. And did I mention that she has Parkinson’s disease and will climb Mount Everest this fall? Heilbrunn, 57, of Great Falls, Va., will travel to Nepal in October with other Parkinson’s patients from the Scripps Clinic and Research Institute in …

Ken Burns, Katie Couric to Tackle Cancer, ‘Emperor of All Maladies’

He’s taken on the Civil War, baseball and jazz. Now, spurred by a personal tragedy, America’s foremost documentarian is tackling cancer. According to the Associated Press, Ken Burns will collaborate with Siddhartha Mukherjee to bring the author’s book The Emperor of All Maladies to PBS in spring 2015. The film is scheduled to run for six hours, over three nights. Burns’ mother was diagnosed with breast cancer when he was 3, and she died 8 years later. “There was never …

Barbara Brenner: A Breast Cancer Firebrand

Breast cancer activist Barbara Brenner, who died on May 10 at age 61 in San Francisco, refused to wear a pink ribbon. As she told a newspaper interviewer back in 1996, she already wore a symbol of her concern about the disease: a horizontal scar across her chest. But more important, she was offended by what she saw as an empty feel-good gesture. “They’re trying to turn breast cancer into a safe thing,” she railed. “Just get a wig and get …

Why Angelina Jolie Chose a Preventive Mastectomy

Movie star Angelina Jolie, told she was at high risk for breast cancer, underwent a preventive double mastectomy, but a prominent cancer geneticist tells AARP the actress should also consider removing her ovaries to reduce her risk of deadly ovarian cancer. Jolie, 37, revealed in a moving essay in the New York Times today that her own mother died of ovarian  cancer at 56, which is why Jolie got genetic testing that revealed she has the BRCA1 gene mutation. This …

Mammogram Advice: Older Women Aren’t Convinced

More than three years after a federally appointed panel of experts said most women don’t need annual mammograms, a new study of mammogram rates shows that older women have pretty much ignored the advice. According to an analysis of data from nearly 28,000 women, women over 40 continue to get the yearly screening, apparently unconvinced they should do it less often. In fact, mammogram rates slightly increased overall, from 51.9 percent in 2008 to 53.6 percent in 2011, even though …