Beyond Chron: Lessons from Barbara Brenner

By Lainey Feingold
Beyond Chron

Brenner_So coverBarbara Brenner’s friends and family have given a gift to activists in all fields with the publication of So Much To Be Done:  The Writings of Breast Cancer Activist Barbara Brenner.  Brenner, who died in 2013, was a well known breast cancer activist. Her journey from civil rights lawyer to health activist began with her own diagnosis twenty years earlier.

But it was not cancer that killed her. Barbara Brenner died at age 61 three years after receiving a diagnosis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS.  The disease is often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, though Brenner points out that the major league slugger is a poor symbol for the devastating illness that claimed her life.

This book of Brenner’s collected writings is book-ended with a biography by the book’s editor Barbara Sjoholm, an introduction by environmental health-science professor Rachel Morello-Frosch, and afterword by Anne Lamott. The pieces are taken from columns Brenner wrote as Executive Director of Breast Cancer Action and from personal blogs written after her ALS diagnosis. The entries are short – but each packs a powerful punch.

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