Graduate’s book gathers moments of truth

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Robert Brown

Eve Strella-Ribson ’86 coordinated the content for a book about breast cancer.

When cancer attacks Eve Strella-Ribson, Strella-Ribson attacks back.

After she was diagnosed with breast cancer in July 2007, she underwent a lumpectomy, chemotherapy and 33 rounds of radiation. “Then I had 16 wonderful months of me again,” says Strella-Ribson ’86 (industrial engineering).

In April 2009, her energy levels were falling, she started having headaches and she was dizzy. She learned the cancer had spread to her brain and her lungs. That summer she had surgery to remove a brain tumor, followed by full brain radiation and more chemotherapy.

And she decided that when she felt better, she was going to tell her story of survival to help others who are fighting the same disease.

But after she met area women at oncology appointments and at treatment centers, she realized that her story alone wasn’t enough to show the prevalence of cancer and the toll it takes on families.

This spring, Moments of Truth, Gifts of Love was published by Productivity Publications of Rochester, N.Y., and includes contributions from 19 local women fighting breast cancer. One of those women died before the book was released.

“I am hoping because you don’t see a lot of breast cancer books out there that individuals will pick up this book, read it and realize that they are not alone,” Strella-Ribson says.

The women write their own stories, starting with the diagnosis and continuing with their journey. Each story includes a short biography. Strella-Ribson coordinated the content and contributed her own story about her fight against breast cancer.

Her husband, Edward Ribson, wrote the foreword and afterword. Her sister, Kareen Johnston-Tucker, included a piece about what it is like for a family member when a relative is diagnosed with cancer. “I feel pretty lucky that I was in a position to give these women a platform,” she says.

Strella-Ribson, who has worked as a dental assistant, industrial engineer and business coach, says she sees the book helping women for many years. Although she continues to fight cancer, she remains optimistic and is taking life day by day.

“The one thing I have learned through this whole cancer experience is slow down a little, enjoy life, soak it in,” she says. “Don’t let it fly by.”

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Editor’s Note: Eve Strella-Ribson died July 19. The story appears as it was originally written.