In the past few weeks I posted pieces on why I blog, and why I’m doing it now rather than when I was going through treatment. I guess the last part should be an explanation of why I am a self-proclaimed cancer curmudgeon. I’ve updated my “About” section to shine a light on my current philosophical stance toward (breast) cancer and the American medical industry (the curmudgeon part). And what follows below is an expansion on that
Above all, I’d like everyone to know that I am grateful for staying alive during cancer, for the drugs (made possible by research dollars from the pink ribbon behemoth) and health care team that keep me that way, and all the support I got and still get. But I do not think being grateful means that I, or anyone, should stop asking for improvements in cancer care and prevention. I demand of science more concrete cancer prevention methods than the “eat right, exercise, don’t drink or smoke” mantra that also helps prevent practically every damn human disease. I think it is ridiculous that the recommended action for a woman with an increased likelihood (like a gene mutation) of getting a gynecological cancer is removal of woman parts. I mean, if I had a gene mutation making me likely to get brain cancer, should I remove my brain? An absurd extreme, yes, but see my point? I realize that cancer is a complex, difficult to understand illness, but after thousands of years of knowledge of a malady we now call “cancer”, science should be further along in the understanding of it all.
*Note: Dude, I’m not even going to follow a thought about how often prostate or testicle removal is performed in comparison to female reproductive organ removal FOR PREVENTATIVE REASONS, because I know it will involve a lot of figures about which cancer occurs more often, and numbers about why science researches one over the other, women’s vs. men’s health issues, blah, blah, blah, so I went with brain cancer in my example—cancer has got to stop dividing men from women, we already feel the healthy-from-the-sick division too much.
I know things like gene testing and radical surgery are the only tools in the box the medical industry has to use against cancer right now, and the industry, as well as patients, want to be proactive….testing and surgery give the illusion of “doing something.” So I understand why the test is sold as something that can provide more info for people like myself, who like to gather as many facts as possible before making decisions. But transparency is in order…like if an oncologist recommends Tamoxifen for 10 years, up from the current recommended 5, to a patient, the patient has a right to know that the study that recommends this was funded by AstraZeneca, makers of Tamoxifen (full disclosure, since I was EP negative, I have no self interest in the Tamoxifen debate, just a personal one, as I researched it on behalf of my IRL cancer buddies, because I want to fight to make sure my friends get the best breast/ovarian/female cancer care available). Women who plan to take the BRCA test need to know how rare gene mutations are, and need to know that the mutations only increase risk of getting cancer, the mutations are not the cause (only if they combine with a bunch of other stuff, like environmental factors, which hurt and cause cancer in everyone, not just those with gene mutations).
All I’m saying, is how can I help add tools to the cancer-fighting toolbox? Other than donating money, because cancer has all my money now.