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Barbara Brenner

Posted 5/12/2013

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  There is only one possible blog to write today, a sad one. Barbara Brenner, a longtime breast cancer activist and all around extraordinary woman, has died of ALS. She was the Executive Direction of Breast Cancer Action in San Francisco, and especially well known for the Think Before You Pink campaign. Until a few days before her death, she continued to write her Heatlhy Barbs blog, and this was the final entry:

Thanks and Blessings
Posted on May 7, 2013 by bbzinger
As my life comes to an end, I want to thank readers of this blog (and our Caring Bridge site for reading all that I have written while I deal with ALS. I’m sure some of what I wrote was difficult to read, some of what I wrote helped others, while other pieces just made you think. This blog will be up awhile — and some ambitious person might turn it into a book. If you think of others who might benefit from anything I’ve written, please send it along to them.

I have been blessed to lead a rich life, full of love and culture and travel and work that had meaning for me. I have no regrets except that I got ALS in the first place.

I have met amazing people both in person and on-line. Everyone I have come in contact with has had something unique to offer the world. The world is a better place because these people are or were in it. Some of these people I have mentored (and you know who you are), others have taught me. What I know about all of these people is that I have been blessed to know them, and that they will succeed at what they set their hearts and minds to do.

In the Jewish tradition there is a Priestly Blessing. I copy below it because it is what I wish for all readers of these words:

May the Lord bless you

and keep you;

May the Lord make his face shine on you

and be gracious to you;

May the Lord turn his face toward you

and give you peace.

  Before her own breast cancer diagnosis and before anyone ever thought about being a breast cancer activist, she was a leader in the women's health movement. One of the early founders/writers of Our Bodies, Ourselves, she had admirers and friends everywhere. This is from Peggy Orenstein (remember that I shared her terrific recent New York Times piece a few weeks ago):

A Tribute to Barbara Brenner: A True Shero
Tags: pink-washing
Posted May 10th, 2013 in Breast Cancer | Leave a comment

In an earlier post, I wrote about Rose Kushner, wondering why her name and voice had been sidelined in the story of breast cancer activism. If anyone could be considered the heir to Kushner (insomuch as I understand her story), it is my friend and inspiration Barbara Brenner. Barbara put up her final “Healthy Barbs” blog post earlier this week. I will miss her fierceness, passion and uncompromising intelligence.

I got to know Barbara as the head of Breast Cancer Action; back then, as I recall, the organization’s motto was, “The Bad Girls of Breast Cancer.” I liked that.  (note from Hester: I LOVE this)

It often took me years of conversations to catch up with Barbara’s thinking. She was the one who first talked to me about the over-promise of mammography. She also talked about the lack of centralized data on cancer patients and cancer research. That just sounded wonky to me, ut now I finally get how critical that work is.

Do take a few minutes and read the rest and be grateful that we and the world had her:


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