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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, November 6, 2008

Women who thrive after breast cancer

By Paula Rath
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser
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"The Survivor Spirit" by Cynthia Y.H. Derosier, portraits by James Anshutz; The Good Juju Co.

The statistics are shockingly familiar: One in eight women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime.

Although it can be a devastating disease, breast cancer can also bring women strength and hope. A new book, "The Survivor Spirit," profiles 20 Island women who have grown through the experience of having breast cancer. Not only have they survived, they have thrived, discovering inspiration and positive change.

The uplifting book, written by Cynthia Derosier, focuses on lessons learned, hobbies discovered, new directions taken and spiritual growth.

Photographer James Anshutz captures the beauty and inner spirit of these women in their most nurturing environments: Julie Purcell in her garden, Lehua King on the beach, Kate Wagner in the boxing ring. The portraits go beyond the obvious to portray a pride and passion in each woman.

Anna Marie Springer, a banker, decides to trade her dull duds for bright colorful clothes that speak to her own optimism. She now refers to herself as "the bling banker."

Jane Yamashiro finds clarity and peace in the ocean, snorkeling and immersing herself in the quiet concentration the activity demands.

"Cover girl" April Goya, an oncology nurse by profession, sums up the spirit of many of the survivors profiled: "I've lived more in this year since my diagnosis and mastectomy than any time prior to it. I've learned to let go. Let go of trying to be perfect, of expecting others to be perfect, of judging. I stopped worrying about what other people think or do, or about what will happen in the future. Worrying didn't make me healthy, worrying didn't cure me, and worrying didn't make me or anyone else happy. So now I just don't. I feel so free and happy. I just focus on what really matters: life and love."

An added benefit: A portion of all proceeds from sale of the book supports the High-Risk Breast Cancer Detection and Prevention Program at Kapi'olani Women's Breast Center, which provides services to more than 700 Island women. Program administrators helped Derosier find the inspiring women who appear in the book.

The book sells for $24.95 at Neiman Marcus (where a heftier portion of the sales go to Kapi'olani) and major book stores, as well as at Mu'umu'u Heaven in Kailua.

Reach Paula Rath at paularath@aol.com.