Patricia Anstett Kiska graduated from the School of Journalism at Michigan State University in 1969. Since then, Anstett Kiska has transformed from a student editor at the State News to a published author in the field of medicine.
From the beginning
When Ansett Kiska in elementary school, a nun told her that she was a good writer. Anstett Kiska calls this the moment that jump-started her passion and led to a long, successful career in journalism.
As an aspiring journalist from a young age, Anstett Kiska believed in gaining experience as a way to develop her skills as a writer.
In high school, she joined the student newspaper. In college, she worked at the State News for four years. She started as a secretary but worked her way up to a position as campus editor.
“It was great preparation for me for my career. I’m so glad that I worked at the student newspaper,” said Anstett Kiska.
Finding her field
Although she graduated from MSU in 1969, it wasn’t until later in her career that she entered the world of medical writing – something she calls a “fluke.”
At the time, she had taken a break from reporting. Instead, she was working as an editor overseeing medical coverage at the Detroit Free Press, while also on maternity leave. The medical writer on staff had recently left, leaving the publication with an open spot.
“Three days before my maternity leave was to end, I got a call from an editor who knew that I wanted to go back to reporting and he asked me if I wanted to be a medical writer,” Anstett Kiska said. “I thought about it briefly and said ‘yes’ and that turned my career totally in the direction of medicine for the last 22 years.”
Anstett Kiska specifically remembers working with a team at the Free Press on a story about Jack Kevorkian, a pathologist who advocated for people’s’ rights to physician-assisted suicides in the late 1980s and early 90s.
“I was given six months to investigate, along with this team, the first 47 patients who sought out Jack Kevorkian’s assistance in dying,” said Anstett Kiska.
From reporter to author
In June 2016, Anstett Kiska published her book Breast Cancer Surgery and Reconstruction: What’s Right for You. Her intent is to educate women about the options they have when it comes to making a decision about how to proceed after, and sometimes before, a breast cancer diagnosis.
She took inspiration for the book from a friend who was beginning the breast reconstruction process. After a trip to Baltimore with her friend to visit a plastic surgeon, Anstett Kiska discovered more about the many different procedures that women have to choose from. She became fixated on the idea that women needed more information and they needed it now.
I went away from that trip saying ‘women need to know this. Too much is not known’,” she said. “So, I took a plastic surgeon out to breakfast, interviewed some more, wrote a sample chapter called ‘The Nipple: The Ultimate Challenge’ and two weeks later, I had a publisher.”
The book includes real-life stories from women who have faced a breast cancer diagnosis and the question of reconstruction. Complementing those stories are photos of these women captured by Kathleen Galligan, a two-time Emmy-award-winning photographer.
The book has done well since its release and Anstett Kiska said the response to it has been extremely rewarding. It is currently on its second printing.
“(The book) puts front and center the person making this decision,” said Anstett Kiska. “It’s not written from a doctor’s point of view. It’s not written from the point of view of a cancer establishment. This is a book for women.”
em>Anstett Kiska will continue her research on breast cancer reconstruction and promote more information on her website