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WomenStories History
  Believing that newly diagnosed breast-cancer patients need more emotional support than they normally receive, Lucie A. DiMaggio, a thirty nine year old physician, who in 1995 was diagnosed with breast cancer, invited a group of women to her home to discuss making a video series for breast-cancer patients. One of the women she invited was Miriam Dow, a sixty-two year old high school English teacher who had recently been diagnosed with a recurrence of breast cancer and was scheduled to have a mastectomy and reconstruction in a few weeks.

At that time, Dr. DiMaggio had a one-page outline for a video series of six tapes. Over the next years she and Ms. Dow determined that ten short tapes would be more comprehensive and appropriate for breast-cancer patients. The favorable responses Dr. DiMaggio and Ms. Dow received concerning their ideas led them to create a local steering committee which became the Buffalo Board of Directors. They also created the National Review Board, made up of medical professionals in the cancer field from different cities and cancer centers across the country.

Dr. DiMaggio is an internist who also taught at the University of Buffalo Medical School. She moved to Idaho in 2002. Miriam Dow taught high school English in Buffalo for nineteen years, and prior to that worked with learning disabled students in the Cambridge Public Schools in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She retired in June of 1999 to work full time on WomenStories. Collette Schoellkopf, MSW, joined Ms. Dow and worked for five years at WomenStories, retiring in 2005.

Since 1999, WomenStories has raised more than $875,747 from foundations, corporations and generous individuals. The project has completed production the ten titles in the video series and  produced a two disc DVD in 2007.

The University of Buffalo Department of Family Medicine did a formative evaluation on the first video, Initial Discovery and Diagnosis of Breast Cancer. Their suggestions influenced this video and all the subsequent ones. The Counseling Department of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Institute did a qualitative evaluation in the spring of 2006 on the eight videos that are currently in distribution.

Early in 2009, a series of 8 programs for TV was completed. This series will be aired on Think Bright at WNED, the PBS station serving Western New York and Southern Ontario in 2009. We plan to take this series to American Public TV, a place where other PBS stations can pick up programs. WomenStories will reach an audience of 560,000 households through WNED.

Click here to watch the WomenStories introductory video.