Impossible Choices, The Breast Cancer Gene, and How I Defied My Destiny
Spiegel & Grau
On Sale: April 1, 2008
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A timely, affecting memoir from the front lines of
medical science: When genetics can predict how we may die,
how then do we decide how to live?
after her mother succumbs to cancer, Jessica Queller has
herself tested for the BRCA “breast cancer” gene mutation.
The results come back positive, putting her at a
terrifyingly elevated risk of developing breast cancer
before the age of fifty and ovarian cancer in her lifetime.
Thirty-four, unattached, and yearning for marriage and a
family of her own, Queller faces an agonizing choice: a
lifetime of vigilant screenings and a commitment to fight
the disease when caught, or its radical alternative—a
prophylactic double mastectomy that would effectively
restore life to her, even as it would challenge her most
closely held beliefs about body image, identity, and
Superbly informed and armed with
surprising wit and style, Queller takes us on an odyssey
from the frontiers of science to the private interiors of a
woman’s life. Pretty Is What Changes is an absorbing
account of how she reaches her courageous decision and its
physical, emotional, and philosophical consequences. It is
also an incredibly moving story of what we inherit from our
parents and how we fashion it into the stuff of our own
lives, of mothers and daughters and sisters, and of the
sisterhood that forms when women are united in battle
against a common enemy.
Without flinching, Jessica
Queller answers a question we may one day face for
ourselves: If genes can map our fates and their dark
knowledge is offered to us, will we willingly trade
innocence for the information that could save our lives?
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