Laura Esserman and Shelley Hwang

Breast-cancer doctors who dare to do less

time 100 2016 shelley hwang laura esserman
Jim Wilson—The New York Times/Redux; Evan Kafka for TIME

I know what it feels like to have a breast-cancer diagnosis. The knee-jerk reaction is: Just cut them off. I kept thinking I just didn’t want to die. That’s why I’m so grateful that my surgeon was conservative and said, “No, no, no. This can be taken care of with a lumpectomy.” I had surgery, I’ve got some scars, but I still have two breasts. For women, our instincts are to protect our family and sacrifice some of ourselves. We’ve been way too eager to do that. So I’m happy to see doctors like Laura Esserman and Shelley Hwang, who are at the top of their field, saying, “Whoa, let’s put a brake on all these radical surgeries. Maybe there is a middle step. Let’s try that before we go to the radical step.” These doctors’ groundbreaking research is starting to bear out the fact that women have more options.

I think female doctors understand breast cancer from the point of view of keeping the body as whole as possible. Because the body as a whole can be an amazing, amazing thing.

Etheridge is a musician and activist

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