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Bosom Buddies: Lessons and Laughter on Breast Health and Cancer by RosieO’Donnell and Deborah Axelrod (dateline November 17, 1999)

Popular talk-show host Rosie O’Donnell has teamed up with her own breast health specialist, Dr. Deborah Axelrod, to bring women a new book about breast cancer: Bosom Buddies: Lessons and Laughter on Breast Health and Cancer . Throughout the book, Rosie contributes her sense of humor with comedic anecdotes and responses to Dr. Axlerod’s content. Most chapters begin with a personal account from a different celebrity breast cancer survivor, including Julia Child, Kate Jackson and Jill Eikenberry. In addition, each chapter ends with a crossword or song about breast cancer. While there is no shortage of humor, the book includes serious and informative content on breast health and breast cancer in an easy to understand question and answer format.

At age 28, Rosie faced her own scare with breast cancer when she discovered a lump in her breast while practicing breast self-examination . After a mammogram and emergency lumpectomy, a biopsy  proved the lump was benign (not cancerous). Six years later, just prior to the debut of Rosie’s hit talk show, several additional suspicious lumps were found during a mammogram that was performed as a part of an insurance physical. Rosie had just moved to New York, the locale of her new show. A friend, who had been treated for breast cancer, referred Rosie to Dr. Alexrod, where that same day she underwent an ultrasound and needle biopsy . Again, all of the lumps were benign.

Following repeated questions by Dr. Axlerod about a family history of breast cancer, Rosie set out to learn more. During the process, she discovered that her mother, who died when Rosie was only 10, had died from metastasized breast cancer. The news devastated Rosie, who had been told by her father that her mother’s death was caused by liver cancer. Armed with this information and her own encounters with the disease, Rosie began the process of learning everything she could about breast cancer and breast care.

Rosie has never had a "normal" mammogram . And while each mammogram, ultrasound, and biopsy has caused her great stress, all of the suspicious areas found have been benign. Determined to keep it that way, Rosie set out on a crusade to promote early breast cancer detection through routine breast self-examination and mammogram . To help accomplish this, Rosie uses her show to educate women about breast cancer and inspire them to take responsibility for their breast health.

Rosie believes that there is no shame in breast cancer and breast health, and her willingness to share her own encounters with the disease has helped thousands of women face fears about getting a mammogram. Periodically, Rosie has even accompanied fearful fans to a clinic to have a mammogram. Afterwards, she features these women as guests on her show to share their mammogram experience as a way of educating more women about the disease and encouraging early breast cancer detection.

During October 1999, Rosie promoted National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and, specifically early detection, through her "Don’t be a Boob" campaign. As part of the promotion, she encouraged woman to call a toll free 800 number provided by the American Cancer Society (800-ACS-2345) to find out where to obtain a free or low cost mammogram. In addition, through the end of the year, Rosie is giving away free "Don’t Be A Boob" T-shirts to the first 130,000 female respondents who receive a mammogram during 1999. This is the second year Rosie has used the show to promote breast health. In 1998, the show promoted breast cancer awareness through the "I got squished" campaign.

To receive a free T-shirt, send your name, address and your mammogram receipt or equivalent doctor’s note to the following address by December 31, 1999:

The Rosie GM Concept: Cure
"Don’t Be A Boob Sweepstakes
P.O. Box 65695
Salt Lake City, Utah 84165-0695

The book, Bosom Buddies, which is set-up in a question/answer format, covers all aspects of breast health including non-cancerous breast conditions , nipple discharge , breast pain, breast cancer risk , breast disease, diagnosis, treatment, and breast-feeding. All profits from Bosom Buddies go to four leading breast cancer organizations.

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