Judy Blume blogged Wednesday that she was diagnosed with breast cancer this summer. She’s now recuperating after a successful mastectomy.
Blume, 74, is the author of wildly popular books for children and young adults, including “Deenie,” “Forever,” “Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing," "Blubber” and “Freckle Juice.” She appeared at the L.A. Times Festival of Books in April; she was diagnosed with cancer in June.
Because she opted to get a mastectomy, she met with a reconstructive surgeon. She writes, “I have small breasts (a la Margaret Simon). A-cups? The breast surgeon asked at our first meeting. She nailed it. I told her the exercises didn’t work for me. Not sure she got my attempt at a joke.”
In her book about female adolescence, “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret,” the small-breasted Margaret tried futile, unforgettable enlargement exercises while chanting, “I must, I must, I must increase my bust!”
In an interview in April, Blume told The Times, “When I started to write there was no such thing as YA [young adult] books. I was never trying to write for teenagers.” She’d grown up reading all the books in her parents’ library. “Nobody ever said to me that books were off-limits. Reading was good, this is a positive thing, Judy likes to read, this is good.” As a consequence, her books had a frankness that was almost unheard of at the time -- and writing about her experience with cancer, she’s just as open.
On her blog, Blume writes more about the choices she faced after deciding to get a mastectomy. “Like Margaret I used to think bigger was better. But my dense, small breasts aged well. They stayed perky while other body parts sagged. I’d become quite fond of them. Still, the idea of mastectomy wasn’t a difficult emotional decision for me (again, these are very personal reactions and decisions). Maybe because my breasts have never defined my sexuality. Who knows?”
Blume was unable to attend a writing residency in Italy scheduled to begin in July. But her blog post, which narrated her experience this summer in some detail, shows she has begun writing again.
She concludes, “As I’ve told my friends who’ve also been treated for breast cancer, I’ve joined The Club -- not one I wanted to join or even thought I would ever be joining -- but here I am. I’m part of this Sisterhood of the Traveling Breast Cells (apologies to Ann Brashares). Medical diagnoses can leave you feeling alone and scared. When it comes to breast cancer you’re not alone, and scary though it is, there’s a network of amazing women to help you through it.”