“I thought there are women all over the country like me. And if I don’t make this public, then their lives will be gone or in jeopardy.”
– Betty Ford in a CBS 60 Minutes interview, 1975
I was only 8 when I learned that First Lady Betty Ford had been diagnosed with breast cancer. I remember hearing the term mastectomy for the first time, and having a child’s curiosity about what such a thing looked like. I had no idea my grandmother had her own double mastectomy 12 years earlier. That I didn’t find out for another decade – it wasn’t something we talked about.
It’s hard to imagine a time when women had to hide a breast cancer diagnosis, when the words were whispered. Betty Ford refused to hide hers.
Rest in peace, Betty. And thank you for saying “breast cancer” and “mastectomy” out loud.
Image: Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.