Clan%20of%20One%20Breasted%20Women

Clan%20of%20One%20Breasted%20Women - REFUGE An Unnatural...

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REFUGE An Unnatural History of Family and Place rrrrrrrrr Terry Tempest Williams Vintage Books A Division of Random House, Inc. New York
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THE CLAN OF ONE= BREASTED WOMEN Epilogue I belong to a Clan of One-Breasted Women. My mother, my grandmothers, and six aunts have all had mastectomies. Seven are dead. The two who survive have just completed rounds of chemotherapy and radiation. I've had my own problems: two biopsies for breast cancer and a small tumor between my ribs diagnosed as a "border- line malignancy." This is my family history. Most statistics tell us breast cancer is genetic, hereditary, with rising percentages attached to fatty diets, childlessness, or becoming pregnant after thirty. What they don't say is . living in Utah may be the greatest hazard of all. We are a Mormon family with roots in Utah since 1847. The "word of wisdom" in my family aligned us with good foods-no coffee, no tea, tobacco, or alcohol. For the most part, our women were finished having their babies by the 281
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Refuge time they were thirty. And only one faced breast cancer prior to 1960. Traditionally, as a group of people, Mormons have a low rate of cancer. Is our family a cultural anomaly? The truth is, we didn't think about it. Those who did, usually the men, simply said, "bad genes." The women's attitude was stoic. Cancer was part of life. On February 16, 1971, the eve of my mother's surgery, I accidently picked up the telephone and overheard her ask my grandmother what she could expect. "Diane, it is one of the most spiritual experiences you will ever encounter. " I quietly put down the receiver. Two days later, my father took my brothers and me to the hospital to visit her. She met us in the lobby in a wheelchair. No bandages were visible. I'll never forget her radiance, the way she held herself in a purple velvet robe, and how she gathered us around her. "Children, I am fine. I want you to know I felt the arms of God around me." We believed her. My father cried. Our mother, his wife, was thirty-eight years old. A little over a year after Mother's death, Dad and I were having dinner together. He had just returned from St. George, where the Tempest Company was completing the gas lines that would service southern Utah. He spoke of his love for the country, the sandstoned landscape, bare-boned and beautiful. He had just finished hiking the Kolob trail in Zion National Park. We got caught up in reminiscing, recalling with fondness our walk up Angel's Landing on his fiftieth birthday and the years our family had vacationed there. Over dessert, I shared a recurring dream of mine. I told my father that for years, as long as I could remember, I saW this flash of light in the night in the desert-that this image 282
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THE CLAN OF ONE-BREASTED WOMEN had so permeated my being that I could not venture south without seeing it again, on the horizon, illuminating buttes and mesas. "You
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This note was uploaded on 04/01/2011 for the course HUMN 2124 taught by Professor Staff during the Spring '11 term at Arkansas.

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Clan%20of%20One%20Breasted%20Women - REFUGE An Unnatural...

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