DETROIT (WWJ) – After an award-winning Detroit Free Press Photo Journalist began working on a book about breast cancer survivors last year she discovered that she herself had breast cancer.

Kathleen Galligan has seen just about everything through the lens of her camera in her 13-year career.

A year ago, she and medical writer Pat Anstett joined forces on a book about the choices faced by women after a breast cancer diagnosis.

While she snapped photos, almost every one of the women interviewed for the book asked Galligan: “Have you been checked? When’s the last time you had a mammogram?”

(Photo courtesy Kathleen Galligan)

(Photo courtesy Kathleen Galligan)

“The truth is,” Galligan told WWJ’s Marie Osborne, “I was thinking, ‘Eh, that doesn’t apply to me. My family’s thing is lung cancer, ya know?”

Galligan was putting off her yearly exam because she was so busy. When she finally went in — perfectly confident all would be fine — she got the news.

“I was never expecting to join the club,” said Galligan.

Shocked by the diagnosis, Galligan at the same time felt fortunate her cancer was discovered early.

She has a very good prognosis, and she’s keeping an upbeat attitude about it.

“Well that’s great! I work on a book about breast cancer and I get breast cancer. Pat, man, the next book we do is gonna be about winning the lottery,” she joked.

Galligan believes her diagnosis gives her a unique perspective on her subjects, and herself.

“Every case is different. You know, you can’t guarantee everything for everybody. But when you see the number of women who live and live well afterwords…It gives you faith.”

The book “Breast Cancer Surgery & Reconstruction: What’s Best for You” features 22 women and their personal journeys. To learn more or to donate to a Kickstarter campaign for the project, visit this link.

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