Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Month of June - Michele Forsten

June's model is Michele Forsten (left), 53, who sees herself as a Cancer Thriver. Her mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer in 1972 at the age of 42 and had had a radical mastectomy. She died less than four years later. When Michele turned 46 and seemed to be cancer-free, she thought she was home free. She had had several tumors removed from both breasts starting at age 16, and all of them had been benign.

So it was both a surprise and not a surprise when she was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 47 in 2002. She had a double mastectomy and TRAM flap reconstruction. In 2003, she co-founded the New York City Lesbian Cancer Support Consortium in response to the lack of support services for lesbians with cancer and their caregivers. With a cancer status of NED (no evidence of disease), she co-facilitates a cancer support group offered by the New York City GLBT Center's Lesbian Cancer Initiative, which is funded in part by the Komen Foundation. She is a published writer and produced playwright ( Michele and her life partner, Barbara, have been together close to 25 years.

In Michele's words:
"Barbara and I had been together almost 19 years when we found out I had breast cancer. She stood by me 'in sickness and health' through my long recovery. For that, I will always be grateful."

The photographer: Beth Hommel lives and works in New York City, where she creates images as unique as the actors, artists and families she photographs. She was honored to participate in this project and hope her contribution helps highlight the fact that the women fighting--and defeating--breast cancer come in all shapes, colors and orientations. Beth can be contacted at

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