Lucas, Geralyn 1968-
LUCAS, Geralyn 1968-
PERSONAL: Born 1968; father a social worker, mother a guidance counselor; married; husband's name Tyler (an orthopedic physician); children: Skye. Education: Columbia University, graduated.
CAREER: Writer, television producer, and television executive. American Broadcasting Company, Inc. (ABC) News, editorial producer of 20/20; Lifetime Television, director of original programming.
Why I Wore Lipstick to My Mastectomy (memoir), St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2004.
SIDELIGHTS: At the age of twenty-seven, Geralyn Lucas did not expect to learn that she had cancer. She was working as an assistant story editor for the ABC News program 20/20, while her husband, Tyler, was a medical resident at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. Encouraged by her husband to perform regular self-exams, she was shocked to find the lump in her breast because no one in her family had ever had such a problem.
In Why I Wore Lipstick to My Mastectomy Lucas recounts the trauma of the diagnosis and the wrenching decision to undergo a mastectomy. The book then follows the relentlessly upbeat and matter-of-fact Lucas as she reconstructs her life, psyche, and body. "Written to inspire breast cancer patients and raise awareness among younger women," the book is "the frank, funny guidebook that [Lucas] wishes she had had for her own journey," commented People reviewer Michelle Tan. As Lucas notes in the book, her goal is to demystify what happens when someone is diagnosed with breast cancer and to help take the fear out of the process for those facing the dreaded diagnosis.
While making the decision to opt for a complete mastectomy, Lucas visited a strip club in New York, "a place where boobs mattered," she writes, to help her decide if she could endure the loss of one of her own breasts. The title of the book derives from Lucas's most blatant act of rebellion and defiance of the cancer in her body. On the day of her mastectomy, she wore bright red lipstick into the operating room. "I want my lipstick to tell everyone in this room that I think I have a future and I know I will wear lipstick again," she states in her book.
As she recovered, Lucas redefined important aspects of herself—her beauty, her sexuality, her attitude. She wore baseball caps backward and short skirts. She continued to work despite the nausea caused by her chemotherapy treatments. She had sex despite the bandages and began to plan on having a child. Above all, she remained positive. "It seemed so crazy to me that when the most was gone, I felt the most powerful, present and beautiful," she explained in an interview for Bookreporter.com. "This seemed to be a really powerful message for all women."
Years after the surgery and the chemotherapy and the sickness, Lucas underwent a complete breast reconstruction, and a tattoo artist placed a heart tattoo where her nipple used to be. She is a successful programming executive for Lifetime Television. Perhaps most importantly, she is mother to daughter Skye, born in 1999, who "changed Mom's outlook altogether," Tan remarked. Lucas also remains deeply involved in breast cancer education and in initiatives to help stop the disease, and has even had a bright red Estée Lauder lipstick named after her. In addition, she remains involved in the success of her book and the impact it has had on the lives of its readers. "It feels sort of karmic to put myself out there, and to get so much back in return," she said in the Bookreporter.com interview.
Library Journal reviewer Bette-Lee Fox called Why I Wore Lipstick to My Mastectomy a "totally charming, hilarious memoir." The book is "an honest, perceptive memoir from a feisty survivor who's willing to discuss every detail" of life with and without cancer, commented a Publishers Weekly reviewer, who deemed the work "surprisingly optimistic and immensely empowering."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Lucas, Geralyn, Why I Wore Lipstick to My Mastectomy, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2004.
Crain's New York Business, August 16, 2004, Lisa Fickenscher, article on Why I Wore Lipstick to My Mastectomy, p. 6.
Library Journal, September 1, 2004, Bette-Lee Fox, "Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken: Twelve Books for Breast Cancer Awareness Month," review of Why I Wore Lipstick to My Mastectomy, p. 184.
People, October 18, 2004, Michelle Tan, "Early Warning; Only Twenty-eight When She Lost a Breast to Cancer, Geralyn Lucas Writes a Bold Memoir to Show Other Young Women That They Too Are at Risk," p. 119.
Publishers Weekly, August 16, 2004, review of Why I Wore Lipstick to My Mastectomy, p. 51; September 27, 2004, Natalie Danford, "Cancer Memoir Moves Major Sponsors," p. 23.
Bookreporter.com, http://www.bookreporter.com/ (October, 2004), interview with Lucas.
Geralyn Lucas Home Page, http://www.whyiworelipstick.com (April 12, 2005).