Sunday, October 11, 2009

I have a problem with this

There was an article on CNN the other day about 'How We Are Winning the War on Breast Cancer'. I have several problems with it that I am happy to discuss here.

First of all, lets start with the title: its not a war. We aren't battlers or survivors. We are people. A war has militaries and weapons and soldiers. I only know of doctors, patients, lab researchers, technicians, and other people involved in this so called war.

The first subhead says "We Know More than Ever". Well, doh, unless you have some kind of problem with learning, we always know more than before as man continually learns. So what is new here? Actually they say scientists know more than before, that its really a bunch of different diseases. Does this give any warm fuzzies? No, it just means that they need to learn a lot more before they have a solution.

Next, "Treatment Gets Personal"? But I already figured that one out. Everyone cancer is different and what was used to treat one person, probably isn't appropriate for the next as there are so many factors that come into play - not just abuot all the perculiarities of one cancer but of the patient - age, general health, reproductive issues, etc - that come into play.

'Surgery is less traumatic' - well maybe they can take out less tissue to get the same results and that reduces long term recovery issues and is less traumatic. But it would be nice not to have so many. I have had 8 surgeries, four of which were cancer related. My body is a network of scars. I could play connect the dots between incisions. Surgery is always traumatic.

'Radiation is safer' - that's nice to know after I had 33 rounds of radiation on my chest right on top of my heart. I realize things have advanced but still can you tell me I have no long term heart damage as a result of it? No.

'Reconstruction looks great' - well, its nice to know after generations of leaving women scarred and deformed, they are in a better position to return a person to a normal looking state. Do you know what's it like to look at yourself in the mirror every day and you hate it so much you just don't look in the mirror?

'There are fewer complications' - I think this is true of all medical practice. Everything is getting better and better and reducing complications through less radical surgery, sanitation practices, or whatever is happening everywhere.

'You can reduce your risk' - well, there's another breakthrough. I have been eating lots of fruit and vegetables and whole grains for years. I do exercise daily. I did what I was supposed to. So what was my risk if I ate fast food and was a couch potato?

'Research is ramping up' - that's just fine and dandy but if you have cancer now, and something is in the research stage, just getting to the mouse test level, there are several more years to go before the new information/medication gets through testing (and proves to really work), how does that help us now? Well, you can be all rosy and say 'what is going on now will help others in the future' but sometimes we need to be a little selfish and say 'cure me now'.

I think this is just your average October pep-rally to say that cancer is being attacked head on in a war... that doesn't really exist. We just live with it.

1 comment:

Ed Hird+ said...

You are right that language can be misleading. As October is Breast Cancer Month, I commend to you a book review written by my wife Janice and myself http://bit.ly/3EdLp8 . The article is about a promising new writer Sandra Crawford* whose book 'In the Arms of the Beloved: a journey through Breast Cancer' has just come out.

Blessings, Ed Hird+
* http://www.sandracrawford.com/