Kushner, Rose. Papers, 1953-1990: A Finding Aid Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
© 1999 Radcliffe College
Call No.: MC 453
Repository: Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe College
ROSE KUSHNER, 1929-1990
21 file boxes, 1 folio folders, 2 photograph folders and 2 audio tapes
Abstract: Writings, correspondence, and professional papers of Rose Kushner, journalist and
breast cancer expert.
Jane S. Knowles
83-M222, 95-M26, 95-M44
Audiotapes and a transcript of an interview with RK were fiven to the Library by Anne Kasper in October 1983. The papers of Rose Kushner were given to the Schlesinger Library
by her husband Harvey Kushner in March and April 1995.
Access. Unrestricted except for folder #269 containing original letters describing
personal histories of DES patients which is closed until January 1, 2016. Copies with
identifying information removed are available.
Copyright. Radcliffe College will not authorize extensive quotations during the donor's
lifetime without his written permission; brief quotations (250 words or fewer in any
one publication) may be published with the prior written permission of the director
of the Schlesinger Library. At the donor's death, copyright will pass to Gantt, Todd,
and Lesley Kushner, his and Rose's children as stipulated in the donor's will. At
the death of the last of these children, copyright will be transferred to Radcliffe
College for the Schlesinger Library.
Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.
Rose Kushner, journalist, breast cancer expert, and patient advocate was born in Baltimore, Maryland, on June 22, 1929, the
fourth child of Israel and Fannie (Gravitz) Rehert. After graduating from high school
she worked for animal behaviorist Dr. Horsley Gantt at the Pavlovian Laboratory of Johns Hopkins Medical School (1947-51). She married Harvey Kushner in January 1951 and they had three children: Gantt, (born 1952), Todd (1956), and
Lesley (1958). As she had always wanted to be a physician, Kushner took pre-med courses
at Baltimore Junior College (1949) and Montgomery Junior College (1963), but switched
to journalism and received her A.B. summa cum laude from the University of Maryland in 1972. She
freelanced as a journalist in Bolivia and Vietnam (1967), wrote articles and an unpublished
book, "The Peacehawks," covered the Yom Kippur war (1973), and did some medical writing.
The discovery of a breast lump which proved to be cancerous in June 1974, changed
her life. Finding that there was little information available, she researched the
topic in medical and technical publications and kept notes as she underwent lumpectomy
and reconstructive surgery. An article based on her own experience appeared in the
Washington Post and was syndicated in hundreds of newspapers. Her book Breast Cancer: A Personal History and Investigative Report (1975) was revised and reprinted twice, as Why Me? (1977) and Alternatives (1984). For her books and numerous articles about breast cancer she received awards
from the American Medical Writers Association (1980, 1985). She was awarded the Medal
of Honor (1987) and the Courage Award (1988) by the American Cancer Society. She founded
the Breast Cancer Advisory Center (1975) to provide information and support for breast cancer patients and was frequently
called before Congress to testify on health and cancer topics. In June 1977, she was
the only non-physician chosen to be on an NIH panel, which adopted a two-stage procedure
instead of the Halsted radical mastectomy as the standard treatment for women suspected
of having breast cancer. As a result, a biopsy that located a breast lump was no longer
automatically followed by a mastectomy.
President Carter appointed Kushner to the National Cancer Advisory Board (1980-86), where she brought to medical policy-making and task forces her skills
as an investigative reporter and patient advocate. She was a founder of the National Alliance of Breast Cancer Organizations and served on its board from 1986 to 1989. This umbrella organization linked many
local groups, published a newsletter, and lobbied for policy reform. Her report on
her trip to China (1984) drew attention to the spiralling increase in the incidence
of breast cancer there and the need for self-examination as a means of prevention.
In June 1982 Rose Kushner developed a second cancer when her implant ruptured and
had to be reinserted. She refused aggressive chemotherapy and was treated with tamoxifen. She campaigned against aggressive adjuvant chemotherapy in 1984. She was also involved
in an FDA study of silicone breast implants and a DES (diethylstilbestrol) task force
to track down the health histories of women like herself who had taken DES during
Rose Kushner died of cancer on January 7, 1990.
The collection is arranged in four series:
- I. Personal and family
- II. Writings
- III. Correspondence
- IV. Organizations
, Personal and family (#1-18), includes clippings about Rose Kushner, the audio tapes and partial transcript of an oral history interview, the first chapters of a memoir, and genealogical and other family data.
, Writings (#19-104), includes drafts of articles, book outlines, forewords, and related
correspondence on breast cancer. There are papers on experimental psychology, articles
and an outline for a novel on Vietnam, and articles about Kushner's Jewish heritage. Her conference papers and talks, 1976-89
(#82-85, 87), draw on her own experience as a cancer patient, describe the psychological
and emotional aspects of the disease, emphasize the importance of the support of nurses
and social workers, condemn unnecessary radical mastectomy, and testify that even radical mastectomy need not be mutilating. The expert testimony
(#89-104) given by Kushner to federal agencies, congressional and other committees,
and in legal depositions illustrates her campaign to have annual mammography covered
by health insurance, and her concern for patients' bills of rights.
, Correspondence (#105-155), includes the Breast Cancer Advisory Center and other
organizations; there is no personal correspondence. Also interfiled is professional
correspondence with physicians, breast cancer patients, members of Congress, and others:
e.g., William E. Colby (#109) about rates of cancer in the Soviet Union and Armand
Hammer about her trip to China (#146, 167-168). Her correspondence with Representative Mary Rose Oakar (#126-128,
271) documents Kushner's role in developing cancer legislation.
, Organizations (#156-278), includes information sheets of the Breast Cancer Advisory
Center and her study of state laws on informed consent (#156-165). Correspondence
with Chinese physicians, and her diary of and report on a trip to China in 1984 document an epidemic of breast cancer in that country (#166-176). Minutes
and correspondence with the Mammatech Co., the maker of a breast self-examination kit, illustrate her view that self-examination
and early detection were key to prevention (#182-189). Additionally there are incorporation
documents and other papers of the National Alliance of Breast Cancer Organizations,
which Kushner helped to found in 1986 (#190-202). Minutes, correspondence, and reports
document her service on the National Cancer Advisory Board, 1980-86. Reports and correspondence
of many National Cancer Institute task forces and projects of which she was a member
are arranged chronologically and include the Office of Cancer Communications (#231-233), the Organ System Program (OSP) (#235-240), the Protocol Data Query (#241-244), Low Fat Cancer Trials (#245-251),
and Women's Health Trials (#252-258). Other task force papers include a study of silicone
breast implants (#99, 177-181), and of DES (Diethylstilbestrol #269-273). Original
letters (#269) containing the life histories of women who responded to a questionnaire
about their use of the drug are closed until January 1, 2016. Copies without identifying
information are available.
- Box 1: 1-2, 4-6, 8-21
- Box 2: 22-36
- Box 3: 37-52
- Box 4: 53-69
- Box 5: 70-80, 82-83
- Box 6: 84-100
- Box 7: 101-118
- Box 8: 119-135
- Box 9: 136-147
- Box 10: 148-170
- Box 11: 171-182
- Box 12: 183-197
- Box 13: 198-208
- Box 14: 209-217
- Box 15: 218-230
- Box 16: 231-239
- Box 17: 240-249
- Box 18: 250-256
- Box 19: 257v-262
- Box 20: 263-271
- Box 21: 272-278
- Series I. PERSONAL AND FAMILY
- 1-5: Biographical
- 1. Genealogy, biographical data etc., 1984-1986
- 2. Oral history interview with Anne Kasper: partial transcript and essay by Kasper
- 4. "I Wasn't Raised To Be A Jewish Mother," ts. drafts of partial memoir, 1988
- 5. Honors and awards, 1977-1988, including American Cancer Society's Medal of Honor, 1987
- 6-8: Education
- 6. P.S. 49, Baltimore, Maryland
- 7f. University of Maryland commencement program, 1972
- 8. Re: nomination for honorary degree at University of Maryland, 1978-1984
- 9-11: Clippings and articles re: Rose Kushner
- 12-14: Miscellaneous
- 14. Travel to U.S.S.R., n.d., and Vietnam, 1987
- 15-18: Family
- 15. Harvey Kushner, 1963, 1985-1989
- 16. Harvey Kushner re: Rose Kushner's last illness, 1990
- 17. Gantt Kushner and Todd Kushner, 1984-1988, n.d.
- 18. Lesley Kushner, 1981-1989
- Series II. WRITINGS
- 19-62: On breast cancer
- 19. "The Breast Cancer Controversy," 1974
- 20-30: Why Me?
- 21. Ts. draft, ; correspondence, 1979-1980.
- 23. Foreword, 1981 edition
- 24-30: Alternatives, second edition of Why Me?
- 24. Correspondence with American Institute for Cancer Research, 1983-1986
- 25. Drafts, correspondence, 1984, 1986-1987
- 26. Financial reports, 1984-1986
- 27. Agreement, 1981, with revisions; correspondence with Harriet Pilpel, 1984-1986.
- 28-30: Correspondence with Warner Books
- 31. With Michael Baum, 1986
- 32. "Before Breast Surgery," 1975
- 33. "Early Detection Programs for Breast Cancer" and other articles, 1976
- 34. 1978: "Psychoemotional Aspects of Breast Cancer," "Round the Clock Chemotherapy," "Cancer
Vaccine;" "Non-Invasive Test for Breast Cancer," "The Equal Rights Amendment is Not
the Only ERA."
- 35-38: "A Gift of Time" (movie project)
- 35. Draft ("Wind Shadow"), 1978
- 38. Correspondence, 1978-1984
- 39. 1979: "Breast Cancer Follow-up," "The Perils of Laetrile," "Carcinogens Made Kosher: 'Cancer
Promotors'," "Your Options...in Breast-Cancer Treatment," "Psychosocial Aspects of
Breast Cancer," "Two-stage"
- 40. "Breast Cancer: Where We're At," 1980 video project
- 41. "The Treatment of Primary Breast Cancer," 1980
- 42. "If You've Thought About Breast Cancer": correspondence, 1980-1987, n.d.
- 43. "You Mean I Had a Mastectomy For Nothing?" Includes correspondence, 1981.
- 44. 1981: "Sounding Board," "A Program to Encourage Early Detection and Treatment of Breast
Cancer by Giving Information and Emotional Support," "Estrogen Receptor Assay"
- 46. 1983: "Careers Before Carriages," "Breast Cancer Detection Update"
- 47. "What you Should Know About Benign Breast Problems," ts. draft, printed article, 1984; includes correspondence with American Institute of Cancer Research, 1983-1985.
- 48-51: Re: adjuvant chemotherapy.
- 48. "Is Aggressive Adjuvant Chemotherapy the Halsted Radical of the 80s?" 1984, correspondence, research, 1982-1985
- 49. Printed re: adjuvant chemotherapy, 1975-1985
- 50. Marc Lippman and Bruce Chabner response to RK's article, 1985
- 51. "Adjuvant Chemotherapy Revisited," 1985; includes correspondence re: article in Field Liaison Newsletter, 1987.
- 52. "Prophylactic Mastectomy," 1985
- 53. "Men Get Up And Fight," for Cope, 1986
- 54. Correspondence with Cope, 1986-1989
- 55. 1986: "DRGs" (Diagnostic Related Groups)
- 56. Re: aerobic exercise and cancer: story idea, mostly printed, 1986
- 58. "Novaldex And You," 1988, re: tamoxifen; includes correspondence, 1983-1989.
- 59. 1988 and prior: "Coping with Breast Cancer: What Health Professionals Can Do To Help":
3 ts. drafts and printed; review of John F. Potter's How To Improve Your Odds Against Cancer.
- 61. Partial bibliography of RK's breast cancer articles, 1979-1988
- 62. Correspondence re: articles, 1981-1984
- 63-79: Writings not on breast cancer
- 63. Correspondence with New Yorker re: possible profiles; and with Dr. W. Horsley Gantt, 1953-1954
- 64. "The Possible Function of a Schedule of Reinforcement as a Conditioned Discriminative
- 65. Re: Vietnam, 1971, and correspondence, 1967-1970
- 66. "Vietnam: A Tourist Mecca?" 1973, and tourist material, maps
- 68. "In the Works" 1973-1974
- 70. Outline of novel about Vietnam, 1978
- 72. Story idea re: Nguyen Be, 1981.
See also #121.
- 73. "What's a Nice Jewish Girl Like Me...," re: America's Cup race, 1983
- 75. Re: scriptwriting, 1988
- 76. Correspondence with Agender Films, Ltd., 1988-1989
- 77. "Miscellaneous old ms.," n.d.
- 79. "Ideas, etc.," printed and ms.
- 80-88: Conference papers, programs
- 86. 9th Bristol-Myers Symposium, 1986
- 89-104: Testimony, etc., before Congressional committees, etc.
- 89. Senate Sub-Committee on Health, 1976
- 90. N.I.H. Consensus Committee, House Sub-Committee on Intergovernmental Relations and
Human Resources 1977. Includes correspondence, 1977-1979.
- 91. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, 1978
- 92. House Labor and HEW Appropriations Committee, 1980
- 93-94: Maryland General Assembly
- 93. Testimony, bills, and correspondence, 1982-1986
- 94. Testimony, correspondence, 1987-1990
- 95. House Sub-Committee on Health, 1984
- 96. Congressional bills to provide coverage for pap smears and mammograms, 1984-1987
- 97. House Committee on Aging, 1985
- 98. House Sub-Committee on Health, 1987
- 99. FDA Advisory Committee re: breast implants, 1988.
- 100. Others' testimony, 1988
- 101-104. Kushner and Manes v. HEW and FDA: legal depositions re: drug labelling, 1976
- Series III. CORRESPONDENCE
- 105-109: 1974
- 109. Oct.-Dec.: includes correspondence with CIA director William E. Colby re: her visit
- 117. With FDA, members of Congress re: DES and oral contraceptives, 1975-1976
- 118. With Martin Baron re: case of Marcia Halpern, 1976-1981
- 119. White House Correspondents' Association, etc., 1977-1988
- 121. Re: Nguyen Be, 1981.
See also #72.
- 123. Re: El Salvador, 1983
- 124-125: With Dr. Henry Lynch
- 126-128: Mary Rose Oakar and other members of Congress. Includes testimony.
- 129. With Dr. Ezra Greenspan, 1986
- 130. Sears mammography project, 1986
- 144-153: 1988
- 146. Mar.; includes Armand Hammer.
- 150. Jul.; includes Mary Lasker.
- 153. With ICI and re: other businesses and screening
- Series IV. ORGANIZATIONS
- 156-165: Breast Cancer Advisory Center
- 157-165: Informed consent laws, 1979-1989
- 159. Georgia , Hawaii, Kentucky
- 163. Minnesota , New Jersey , New Mexico , New York
- 164. Ohio, Oregon, Texas, Virginia, Washington
- 165. General re: informed consent and breast cancer
- 166-176: Re: China trip
- 166. China Educational Tours (CET): arrangements etc., 1983-1986
- 167-171: Correspondence
- 167. 1983 - Mar. 1984: includes Armand Hammer, Chinese physicians
- 168. Apr. 1984 - May 1985: includes Armand Hammer, Dr. Wu, RK's report
- 173. China diary, ts. transcript, 1985
- 174. Printed re: RK and China, 1985-1987
- 175. Articles on breast cancer in China, 1987
- 176. Clippings re: breast cancer in China
- 177-181. Food and Drug Administration: Silicone Breast Implant Working Group, 1989.
- 182-189: Mammatech Corporation
- 182. Correspondence, 1982-1988
- 184. Letters of inquiry, 1983, 1985
- 185. Board minutes, 1983-1984, 1988
- 189. Other printed re: breast self-examination
- 190-202: National Alliance of Breast Cancer Organizations
- 190. Incorporation documents, bylaws, 1986-1987
- 191. Invitations to serve on board, 1986-1987
- 193. Questionnaire, analysis, 1986, 1989
- 197. Newsletter, clippings, 1986-1989
- 198. Financial reports, 1987-1988
- 203-230: National Cancer Advisory Board
- 203. "Memorabilia" [for memoir?], 1979-1987
- 204. Linus Pauling's proposals to National Cancer Institute, 1979-1980
- 205. Correspondence, minutes, 1980
- 206. "Cancer Control Program," report by RK: drafts and correspondence, 1980
- 207. Printed and other background for report, 1975-1983
- 208. Minutes, correspondence, clippings, 1981
- 215-218: 1984
- 215. Correspondence and draft re: adjuvant chemotherapy.
- 219-221: 1985
- 220. Reports, proposals for review, correspondence
- 221. Correspondence with Linus Pauling re: Vitamin C
- 222. "Politics and farewell correspondence," 1986
- 224. NCI and NIH meetings, 1988-1989
- 225. Correspondence re: reappointment, 1989
- 226-229: Finances
- 226. Personal payments, 1980-1986
- 227-229. Travel reimbursements
- 230. History of Cancer Centers programs
- 231-268: National Cancer Institute projects
- 231-234: Office of Cancer Communications: RK's reviews and articles
- 231. Correspondence, ts. drafts, 1975-1979
- 233. "Reconstructive Mammoplasty": correspondence and ts. drafts, 1979.
- 234. Correspondence, 1979-1982
- 235-240: Organ System Program: Breast Cancer Working Group
- 235. Correspondence, minutes, 1980-1981and earlier
- 240. 1987-1988, 1989, n.d.
- 241-244: Protocol Data Query (PDQ)
- 245-251: Low Fat Cancer Trials.
See also #252-258.
- 245. 1982-1983: notes, partial transcript
- 251. Printed re: cancer and diet
- 252-258: Women's Health Trials
- 254. Correspondence, 1986
- 256. Minutes, 1987-1988, printed
- 257v. Participant's manual
- 259-261: Adjuvant chemotherapy.
- 262-263: Tumor markers. Includes conference.
- 264. Breast cancer trials for laser surgery, 1989
- 265-266: Lasagna Committee: National Committee to Review Current Procedures and Approval of
New Drugs for Cancer and AIDS
- 265. 1989: includes correspondence, agendas, and RK's paper
- 266. Printed background, 1983-1989
- 269-273: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: DES (Diethylstilbestrol) Task Force
- 271. Correspondence, including Mary Rose Oakar, Dr. Arthur Herbst, and reports, 1985-1989
- 274. Notes and printed re: "The Future" (of cancer treatments, chemotherapy etc.)
- 275-278: Printed
- 275-276. Re: breast cancer
- 277. Chemotherapy treatment for cancer
- 278. Armand Hammer and cancer
The following catalog entries represent persons, organizations, and topics documented
in this collection. An entry for each appears in the Harvard On Line Library Information
System (HOLLIS) and other automated bibliographic databases. THIS IS NOT AN INDEX.
Breast Cancer Advisory Center (Kensington, Md.)
Colby, William Egan, 1920-
Gantt, W. Horsley (William Horsley), 1892-
Hammer, Armand, 1897-
National Alliance of Breast Cancer Organizations
Oakar, Mary Rose
Pauling, Linus, 1901-
Pilpel, Harriet F.
United States. National Cancer Institute
Breast implants--Complications--United States
Jewish women--United States--Biography
Patient advocacy--United States
University of Maryland--Alumni and alumnae
Women health reformers--United States
Women journalists--United States--Biography
Women--Health and hygiene--United States