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 She freelanced as a journalist in Bolivia and Vietnam (1967), wrote articles and an unpublished book, "The Peacehawks," covered the Yom Kippur war (1973), and did some medical writing.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 pregnancy.
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
Genealogy, biographical data etc., 1984-1986
Oral history interview with Anne Kasper: partial transcript and essay by Kasper
"I Wasn't Raised To Be A Jewish Mother," ts. drafts of partial memoir, 1988
Honors and awards, 1977-1988, including American Cancer Society's Medal of Honor, 1987
P.S. 49, Baltimore, Maryland
University of Maryland commencement program, 1972
Re: nomination for honorary degree at University of Maryland, 1978-1984
Clippings and articles re: Rose Kushner
Travel to U.S.S.R., n.d., and Vietnam, 1987
Harvey Kushner, 1963, 1985-1989
Harvey Kushner re: Rose Kushner's last illness, 1990
Gantt Kushner and Todd Kushner, 1984-1988, n.d.
Lesley Kushner, 1981-1989
Series II. WRITINGS
On breast cancer
"The Breast Cancer Controversy," 1974
Ts. draft, ; correspondence, 1979-1980.
Foreword, 1981 edition
Alternatives, second edition of Why Me?
Correspondence with American Institute for Cancer Research, 1983-1986
Drafts, correspondence, 1984, 1986-1987
Financial reports, 1984-1986
Agreement, 1981, with revisions; correspondence with Harriet Pilpel, 1984-1986.
Correspondence with Warner Books
With Michael Baum, 1986
"Before Breast Surgery," 1975
"Early Detection Programs for Breast Cancer" and other articles, 1976
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."
"A Gift of Time" (movie project)
Draft ("Wind Shadow"), 1978
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"
"Breast Cancer: Where We're At," 1980 video project
"The Treatment of Primary Breast Cancer," 1980
"If You've Thought About Breast Cancer": correspondence, 1980-1987, n.d.
"You Mean I Had a Mastectomy For Nothing?" Includes correspondence, 1981.
1981: "Sounding Board," "A Program to Encourage Early Detection and Treatment of Breast Cancer by Giving Information and Emotional Support," "Estrogen Receptor Assay"
1983: "Careers Before Carriages," "Breast Cancer Detection Update"
"What you Should Know About Benign Breast Problems," ts. draft, printed article, 1984; includes correspondence with American Institute of Cancer Research, 1983-1985.
Re: adjuvant chemotherapy.
"Is Aggressive Adjuvant Chemotherapy the Halsted Radical of the 80s?" 1984, correspondence, research, 1982-1985
Printed re: adjuvant chemotherapy, 1975-1985
Marc Lippman and Bruce Chabner response to RK's article, 1985
"Adjuvant Chemotherapy Revisited," 1985; includes correspondence re: article in Field Liaison Newsletter, 1987.
"Prophylactic Mastectomy," 1985
"Men Get Up And Fight," for Cope, 1986
Correspondence with Cope, 1986-1989
1986: "DRGs" (Diagnostic Related Groups)
Re: aerobic exercise and cancer: story idea, mostly printed, 1986
"Novaldex And You," 1988, re: tamoxifen; includes correspondence, 1983-1989.
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.
Partial bibliography of RK's breast cancer articles, 1979-1988
Correspondence re: articles, 1981-1984
Writings not on breast cancer
Correspondence with New Yorker re: possible profiles; and with Dr. W. Horsley Gantt, 1953-1954
"The Possible Function of a Schedule of Reinforcement as a Conditioned Discriminative Stimulus," 
Re: Vietnam, 1971, and correspondence, 1967-1970
"Vietnam: A Tourist Mecca?" 1973, and tourist material, maps
"In the Works" 1973-1974
Outline of novel about Vietnam, 1978
Story idea re: Nguyen Be, 1981.
See also #121.
"What's a Nice Jewish Girl Like Me...," re: America's Cup race, 1983
Re: scriptwriting, 1988
Correspondence with Agender Films, Ltd., 1988-1989
"Miscellaneous old ms.," n.d.
"Ideas, etc.," printed and ms.
Conference papers, programs
9th Bristol-Myers Symposium, 1986
Testimony, etc., before Congressional committees, etc.
Senate Sub-Committee on Health, 1976
N.I.H. Consensus Committee, House Sub-Committee on Intergovernmental Relations and Human Resources 1977. Includes correspondence, 1977-1979.
Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, 1978
House Labor and HEW Appropriations Committee, 1980
Maryland General Assembly
Testimony, bills, and correspondence, 1982-1986
Testimony, correspondence, 1987-1990
House Sub-Committee on Health, 1984
Congressional bills to provide coverage for pap smears and mammograms, 1984-1987
House Committee on Aging, 1985
House Sub-Committee on Health, 1987
FDA Advisory Committee re: breast implants, 1988.
Others' testimony, 1988
Kushner and Manes v. HEW and FDA: legal depositions re: drug labelling, 1976
Series III. CORRESPONDENCE
Oct.-Dec.: includes correspondence with CIA director William E. Colby re: her visit to U.S.S.R.
With FDA, members of Congress re: DES and oral contraceptives, 1975-1976
With Martin Baron re: case of Marcia Halpern, 1976-1981
White House Correspondents' Association, etc., 1977-1988
Re: Nguyen Be, 1981.
See also #72.
Re: El Salvador, 1983
With Dr. Henry Lynch
Mary Rose Oakar and other members of Congress. Includes testimony.
With Dr. Ezra Greenspan, 1986
Sears mammography project, 1986
Mar.; includes Armand Hammer.
Jul.; includes Mary Lasker.
With ICI and re: other businesses and screening
Series IV. ORGANIZATIONS
Breast Cancer Advisory Center
Informed consent laws, 1979-1989
Georgia , Hawaii, Kentucky
Minnesota , New Jersey , New Mexico , New York
Ohio, Oregon, Texas, Virginia, Washington
General re: informed consent and breast cancer
Re: China trip
China Educational Tours (CET): arrangements etc., 1983-1986
1983 - Mar. 1984: includes Armand Hammer, Chinese physicians
Apr. 1984 - May 1985: includes Armand Hammer, Dr. Wu, RK's report
China diary, ts. transcript, 1985
Printed re: RK and China, 1985-1987
Articles on breast cancer in China, 1987
Clippings re: breast cancer in China
Food and Drug Administration: Silicone Breast Implant Working Group, 1989.
Letters of inquiry, 1983, 1985
Board minutes, 1983-1984, 1988
Other printed re: breast self-examination
National Alliance of Breast Cancer Organizations
Incorporation documents, bylaws, 1986-1987
Invitations to serve on board, 1986-1987
Questionnaire, analysis, 1986, 1989
Newsletter, clippings, 1986-1989
Financial reports, 1987-1988
National Cancer Advisory Board
"Memorabilia" [for memoir?], 1979-1987
Linus Pauling's proposals to National Cancer Institute, 1979-1980
Correspondence, minutes, 1980
"Cancer Control Program," report by RK: drafts and correspondence, 1980
Printed and other background for report, 1975-1983
Minutes, correspondence, clippings, 1981
Correspondence and draft re: adjuvant chemotherapy.
Reports, proposals for review, correspondence
Correspondence with Linus Pauling re: Vitamin C
"Politics and farewell correspondence," 1986
NCI and NIH meetings, 1988-1989
Correspondence re: reappointment, 1989
Personal payments, 1980-1986
History of Cancer Centers programs
National Cancer Institute projects
Office of Cancer Communications: RK's reviews and articles
Correspondence, ts. drafts, 1975-1979
"Reconstructive Mammoplasty": correspondence and ts. drafts, 1979.
Organ System Program: Breast Cancer Working Group
Correspondence, minutes, 1980-1981and earlier
1987-1988, 1989, n.d.
Protocol Data Query (PDQ)
Low Fat Cancer Trials.
See also #252-258.
1982-1983: notes, partial transcript
Printed re: cancer and diet
Women's Health Trials
Minutes, 1987-1988, printed
Tumor markers. Includes conference.
Breast cancer trials for laser surgery, 1989
Lasagna Committee: National Committee to Review Current Procedures and Approval of New Drugs for Cancer and AIDS
1989: includes correspondence, agendas, and RK's paper
Printed background, 1983-1989
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: DES (Diethylstilbestrol) Task Force
Correspondence, including Mary Rose Oakar, Dr. Arthur Herbst, and reports, 1985-1989
Notes and printed re: "The Future" (of cancer treatments, chemotherapy etc.)
Re: breast cancer
Chemotherapy treatment for cancer
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