Thursday, May 14, 2015
Times have changed
I found something online yesterday which talked about last Sunday's episode where Betty goes to the doctor after a fall for rib pain only to learn she has advanced lung cancer. But the doctor won't tell her until her husband arrives. The Huffington Post reviewed the show and spoke to the CMO of the ACS:
"According to Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, the portrayal of Betty's care was almost entirely spot-on: A woman diagnosed with lung cancer in 1970 would have been given the patronizing care that Betty received. Though not a fan of the show, Brawley watched the episode and explained it was par for the course back when “cancer” was a generally whispered or unspoken word, and the medical community was generally patronizing to women as well as cancer patients.
“I can tell you that there was misogyny in medicine, and I can tell you there was actually a time in the United States when it was common not to tell people they had cancer, but they told the family,” Brawley told The Huffington Post. "I can tell you that there was a time when many people did not even say the word ‘cancer’ or simply used the words ‘Big C.’""
He adds that the reason it was so patronizing was that there was little if anything that could be done. At that time, there were a few chemotherapy options but lots of discussion on if they even were helpful.
I remember when Betty Ford announced publicly she had breast cancer. She and Shirley Temple Black were the first to make this announcement publicly and helped break down the barriers to make cancer spoken, not whispered. Less than a decade after that, I had my first cancer diagnosis in 1981. A few years ago, I met a woman who was diagnosed with thyroid cancer around 1980, and her parents never even told her about the diagnosis.
I am so glad times have changed. We may not have a cure for cancer but we can at least talk about it.
PS extra points to everyone who can watch that gif for more than a couple repetitions without getting the beginnings of a headache or getting dizzy.