As more people receive a breast cancer diagnosis, more patients have mastectomy surgeries. This means more patients with amputated breasts look to stories and literature for models of themselves. They seek catharsis, new identities, ways to grieve, find camaraderie with other patients, and connect themselves to the larger world. Sometimes they read the works of others, such as Audre Lorde, to feel less isolated and invisible. At other times, they tell or write their own stories as a way to educate, connect, commemorate, or express. Some patients, such as Lorde and the author, find it difficult to separate their cancers from societal problems at-large. The following looks at how and why mastectomy stories are needed. It uses the works of Lorde, Frances “Fanny” Burney, and an autoethnographic investigation of the author’s own post-mastectomy writings to illustrate how storytelling – and its absences – can help or hinder a patient’s recovery.



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