Saturday, October 13, 2007
Pay No Attention To That Person Behind the Pink Curtain
Breast cancer awareness month and a white hot primary election season heating up. There almost isn't any room for Anna Nicole Smith stories anymore. What do they all have in common? When examined closely, none of them are what they appear to be.
First up, the news from Iowa today. It seems the political candidates are now going door to door to drum up votes. Now I ask you, just who do they think they are sneaking up on? Let's see, there are about 4 SUV's in their motorcades, three buses of press, satellite trucks parked and pointing their huge dishes to report this spontaneous moment, and then the candidates themselves, looking all casual and nonchalant, like a paper boy simply comin' 'round to collect this week's fee.
Second, has anyone noticed the amazing drop in new breast cancer diagnoses this month?* The last time I checked, which would have been around May, the number of women who are diagnosed with breast cancer every year in the US is between 250,000 and 275,000. The mortality was around 40,000 per year. This month, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the number of newly diagnosed women is being reported as 170,000. Is this a typo? It can't be because I have seen it in at least three different places.
I know there was a decrease in new cases and some felt it was because of women stopping hormone replacement therapy. But some doctors are worried there was a decrease because women have stopped getting as many mammograms as they used to so their cases have not been reported yet. How can that possibly be?
To the outside world that has never been touched by breast cancer, it has become so commonplace now that folks not directly touched by it are desensitized. After all, haven't all those pink things made it not such a big deal anymore? Why get a mammogram? Women don't die from that anymore, right? They get cured. Right?
Sorry to say, NO. Get your mammograms early, by at least age 35. Because breast cancer isn't under control. The Beast is not a nonchalant candidate taking a stroll on a Saturday afternoon dropping by on the off chance you may be home and all it wants to do is ask for your vote.
It comes with crowds. Medical teams who do all sorts of things to you. It comes with satellite dishes. Huge, friggin machines that probe you, zap you and leaves effects that stay long after the visit is over.
If there are people who read this blog who do not have breast cancer and who do believe that the Pink has cured us, stop believing that. If you are a woman, arm yourself now. Because the best chance you are ever going to get is early detection. It is a matter of life and death.
Tonight a dear sister and I were writing emails to each other. She has breast cancer too. We were talking about how many names we have crossed out of our address books and marked them "deceased." It is happening all the time, every day, every hour, every fifteen minutes. We are losing an entire generation of really great women. Women you would have wanted to know. Women who had a lot to offer and who had too much love left to give to be taken away so soon.
In a round about way, what I am trying to say to everyone, but most especially those who have never been touched by this miserable beast from hell, nothing is as it appears. Like the candidate who spontaneously rings your doorbell for the heck of it, PINK has not put an end to this disease.
Please: Give your money to the research labs that are holding the keys that will open the door to our cure. We can't lose any more moms, sisters, daughters, wives, lovers or friends. Don't just buy something pink. Take the money and put it towards a CURE. So pink can become a pretty color again, and not code for a nice way to say ladies are dying.
*UPDATE: The NATIONAL CANCER INSTITUTE RELEASED THE FOLLOWING ON MONDAY, 15 October:
New breast cancer diagnoses are dropping about 3.5 percent a year, a previously reported decline due either to women shunning postmenopausal hormone therapy or to fewer getting mammograms.