Breast cancer survivor Dina Howard shares the story of her powerful, personal journey through treatment in this award winning documentary. She doesn't just talk about the ordeal. Dina documents her chemotherapy, radiation treatments and surgeries.
Full 1-hour documentary
Part One: Diagnosis and Support
Part Two: Surgeries and Surprises
Part Three: Coping and Chemo
Part Four: Radiation, Relief,
The genesis of the radio journal about my year fighting breast
cancer was a conversation with my husband Ed, just after my
diagnosis in late fall of 2005.
I had just started doing freelance
arts reporting for Capital Public Radio, but my diagnosis was
clearly going to stop any new, non-cancer related endeavors for the
One of the most valuable things during the days after my diagnosis
was when friends or friends of friends who had already had breast
cancer shared their experiences with me.
Also, with breast cancer being at nearly epidemic proportions,
there is a plethora of useful and helpful factual information out
there but much of it is presented in a way that is removed from the
difficult emotional experience of the disease.
So, weaving all of these factors together, Ed and I talked about
how maybe this was my opportunity to make a difference … to make
lemons into lemonade by somehow being a kind of breast cancer big
sister for women I would never meet who would come after me.
If you would like to comment
on this program, click here
Previous comments from listeners about Dina's Diary
I was in the kitchen today making
my very first-ever batch of matzo ball soup for my best friend when
I decided to turn on the radio for company and heard Dina's story.
I had to pause often to wipe tears with a handy paper towel. With
every word I recalled the chapters in my friends life since she was
diagnosed with breast cancer in the fall of '06. She has been in
treatment since October of that year and has been in constant
treatment until just a few weeks ago. I relived every corner of my
friend's care through Dina. The disbelief in diagnosis, the belief
it would only be a lumpectomy, the seeming brutality of two
separate biopsies. We researched and planned and quizzed but it was
a blessing not to know much of what was ahead. Chemo, a double
mastectomy, a radical reconstruction decided upon because of the
inevitable radiation. Then a drug trial that finally kicked her
butt. The decisions to be made seemed endless and painful, but the
hand-holding was constant. My friend is also blessed with love and
support. Through all of this, she's felt lucky and in the best
possible hands at UCSF. We're hoping she can share a long life with
her pride and joy, two beautiful daughters. As her nurse has said,
the "healing clock" doesn't really start ticking until all
treatments are over. So tonight we'll share another meal before her
now 7pm bedtime rolls around. I'm going back to tend to those
mysterious matzo balls. I hope she'll be proud of me. All the best
Dina. Continue to live your life as if taking in every luscious
taste of that hard candy.
Naomi - 1-26-08
I have been listening to NPR for about three years and
your story was easily the most moving and memorable of them all. As
a father and husband, I thank you for telling it. I think everyone
would benefit from listening to it. While only Dina knows the pain
she suffered, I could almost put myself in her shoes for that brief
hour moment. And that I think is the most important thing, letting
people know the story from the other side. Thanks Dina.
Matt S - 1-24-08
I thought that story was beautifully told. I hope the best for
Steve - 1-23-08
So raw and real! There are so many elements of your story
that have affected me. One; my grandmother was recently diagnosed
with breast cancer and because of her age the drs.' opted for a
double mastectomy. While concerned with her initial diagnosis of
'cancer' (which is now in remission), i don't feel that i, or
anyone else in our family has empathized or comforted her in a way
that we should have. i think the general consensus was, at her age
just losing your breasts... not a big deal. i thank you for your
story and will be checking in on her tomorrow. losing your breasts,
or any part of your body, is clearly a traumatic experience.
secondly, the support of your friends and family, mostly your
husband, have inspired me to give very thoughtful and careful
consideration to whom i share my life with. its not a subject to be
taken lightly. congratulations to you for your struggle and
survival, and many thanks for letting us listen and learn.
Whitney - 1-23-08
Click here to visit Dina's website