What You See Is What You Get

Just a reminder, I call myself the Cancer Curmudgeon, and I mean it. My posts will most often be sarcastic; grumpy even while humorous.

I am working on a few less than happy, peppy, perky posts. I believe that the only way to eliminate the darkness, the negatives, the unhappy facts of life is by facing them and dragging them into the light. If you are easily offended, do not read them; I’ll try to remember to tag appropriately. Oh, and there is one mostly positive one coming too. But if you are reading posts by someone who calls herself a Curmudgeon, well, be prepared. What you see is usually what you’ll get.

Anyway, this quote from the great Quentin Tarantino applies here.

tumblr_mojx43qxzy1r0pw1wo1_500

Advertisements

Slurp! A Different Look At Doctors & Patients Relationships

I see so many posts on various blogs praising (or, uh, the opposite) members of their medical team. And in person, I’ve run into so many people who looooove their oncologists.

I’m not the sentimental sort, and while I am fond of my oncologist, I wish I never met him. I was treated in the only cancer center for miles around in my rural area, and he is the Medical Director of the joint. He’s very calm and even keeled, and very humble. I remember being a bit surprised when I learned, about half-way through my treatment, that he was the dude in charge. He doesn’t act like the “I’m-in-charge-here sort”, and that’s good.

Now, on this blog in a few posts here and there, I’ve mentioned a couple of points that are key to this post: 1) This is a rural area, so, in other words, my cancer experience is really, really unlike those had by patients at Farber or Sloan-Kettering. Here, a cancer patient is quite likely to run into one of the nurses or doctors at a grocery store (ok, we’re aren’t so small town that there is only one store!) 2) I am a pet/house sitter, so I spend much time living in other people’s homes in various neighborhood developments in the area.

Have you figured out where I’m going with this?

A few months ago I gained a client that has kept me quite busy, meaning I’ve spent most of my time in one neighborhood these past few months. This client has a gorgeous yellow (practically white) Lab puppy, and Puppy has personality to spare. I’ve been working closely with the client on puppy training, so I’ve been immersed in AKC guidelines and Good Canine Citizen training and just good old fashioned getting the puppy socialized. Puppy and I walk up and down every street every day, practicing all kinds of commands: stop, down, sit, leave it (bleh, I say that one a lot, given Labs’ keenness for small dead animals that are ever present here in Road Kill, USA), stay, let’s go. Puppy is pretty and happy, and well loved, and we visit many folks on our walks each day; especially the after school gang. Puppy loves the after school gang with their melting fruit-flavored ice pops all over their faces, and they are still short, so their faces are still close enough to the ground for optimal slurping!

One lazy Sunday, a car approaches and the driver raises his hand absent-mindedly and I, as I always do, wave back. Like I said, this is small town values here. Everyone waves at everyone else even if the other is a stranger (or, there are no strangers). But this time, no, it was my oncologist waving at me. As I lazily throw up my hand, his gaze returns to a neighbor’s lawn decoration.

I see it as the wave of “the friendly neighbor”, not “hey, I think that is one of my patients,” and realize, good grief, he did not know who that was…walking down the street, hair a mess, in cut-off shorts and an old rock concert t-shirt, with plastic poop-pick-up bags streaming from my pockets. And why would he, I was not wearing my usual outfit, the oh-so fashion forward, cheesy-ass, flimsy hospital gown. My goodness, does he ever recognize anyone out of the cancer center?

Clothes are our armor, how we face the world by presenting a carefully selected image. Or in my case at that moment, just stuff I did not mind getting dirty. In exam rooms we are vulnerable, literally and often figuratively naked. To doctors we are not our image. To him, I am not cool-aging-punk-rocker equipped with my dog-walking gear. I am one of hundreds of scared breast cancer patients.

If you think this post is going to get all heavy, nope. There is a little more to tell here, which I find funny, but then I have a warped sense of humor.

Puppy and I continue on the road the doctor had just used to drive home. She spots it before I do, unfortunately. Freshly squished baby frog. Before I have time to think, “oh Dr. _________ must’ve run over that on the way home,” SLURP! Puppy consumes it, just as she does with most road kill if I don’t see it first and issue my “leave it” command.

Puppy is happy; satisfied she got one over on me. That night I curse my oncologist. I know, I know, I scoop poop for a living so it shouldn’t bother me. But that sort of thing grosses me out a little. Especially an hour later when Puppy wants to kiss my face with her tongue.….“Go away frog breath!”

Like I started this post, lots of cancer patients love their oncologists. I’m fond of mine. Puppy, however, worships and LOVES him: Dr. ___________, Frog Killer, Provider of Tasty Snack. Someday, when Puppy and I show up in his front yard, I know she will roll over on her back asking for a tummy rub, and when he leans down, she will slurp him too. I cannot prevent this from happening.

Now, the only question is this: when I see him for the every-six-months thing in a few weeks, do I tell him what happened?

Cake

jory-howyoudoin

“Yeah, but bacon tastes good. Pork chops taste good”

 –“Pulp Fiction”, 1994

While I was ranting in the previous post about how the media treated the recent death of Gandolfini, I began ranting about how TV doctors, commercials, and other media go on and on about healthy diets, and soon I was going on and on and on about food and weight loss and the judge-y judgertons on TV, and had wandered away from just fussing about Gandolfini and how his death got treated. I realized just how much media messages about diet and weight bother me.

I call this post “Cake”, but I don’t just mean cake; I’m using that one four lettered food item to stand for:

Ice cream

Chocolate

Cookies

Fried chicken, oh heck, all fried foods, fried stuff with cheese, to quote Joey Tribbiani

Rare steak

Fudge

Bacon

Cookies

Cheeseburger, cheeseburger, cheeseburger

Pie

Mayonnaise

Brownies

Mac-n-cheese

Potatoes

sam

Candy

Fruit juice (not the real, 100% juice kind)

Coca-cola (I mean all soft drinks, where I’m from Coke means any syrupy, carbonated beverage)

Wine

Vodka

Biscuits

Pasta

Waffles

Food smothered in any kind of creamy sauce, mmm, like Alfredo

Sweet tea

Pizza

Spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, lovely spam, wonderful spam

In other words, every food or drink that is awesome but is aiming to kill me. For the record, I don’t like soft drinks or soda pop (whatever your region calls it), or pie, or spam (my favorite song), but I’m listing foods that I know many others enjoy.

Now, I love when y’all comment on my posts, but I gotta ask this time that no one leave me a lecture about healthy diet and exercise, or moderation. I don’t eat a box of pasta and a jar of sauce every night for supper. I get the concept of moderation. This post, in combination with the preceding one, should explain that I GET IT, I just feel like I’m being lectured all the time with the constant messages about losing weight. Liberal media, Right wing media, shoooooot, Diet media is more like it. Sometimes I think that whole Cancer Thing I had there was just a plot constructed by The Smoking Man to get me to eat a damn salad. (Kidding, I ate salad in my BC—before cancer—era, I just do it more now). Who is The Smoking Man? OMG, stop reading and go stream all episodes of “The X-Files”, like right now, before I sic the unmarked helicopters on you. My love for that show probably explains too much of my blog.

Anyway.

You guessed it; this is just a humor post, me blowing off steam by going to the ridiculous extreme. I’m just complaining, and kicking against this constant need to behave sensibly that cancer seems to have imposed on me. No, this post was written by the six year old me, and she is cranky. And she wants a donut.

But in all seriousness, the issue of weight in all health-related pieces I see or read is really making my blood boil lately, and Gandolfini was the last straw. Wanna hear something stupid? BC, I was not overweight at all. I was in the correct weight span for my height. Was my BMI perfect? Doubtful. Was I a pleasing shape? No, I looked like—and still look like—a marshmallow with toothpicks for arms and legs, because all my weight gain goes to the middle, turning me into a box shape (oh yeah, forgot marshmallows in above list—but I don’t like them either). Was I fit or in shape? I’m not sure; I mean I had two physical jobs that required me to be active and do lots of heavy lifting. So, no I wasn’t in the gym, mostly because I was busy, working my ass off to get the money to pay the bills. I had no immediate health risk factors for anything really, other than my family (genetically and you know, stressing me out, driving me crazy).

Now, post-treatment, yeah, I’ve put on some extra pounds, and that has everything to do with chemo. During those first awful weeks of chemo, I hated all food and doubted I’d ever want to eat again (and yeah, lost ten pounds very quickly, my pants kept falling down, plumber butt!). Two years after chemo ended, and the smell of most foods do not make me nauseous anymore, it’s like I still cannot quite believe my good fortune at getting my appetite back. I’m like a kid in a candy store, or cake store, or steak store, or fried chicken store, or caramel popcorn store, or…you get the idea. So, I wasn’t overweight before cancer, I gain it after cancer because I missed the taste of food so much, and now all I hear is: fat causes cancer. I just want to scream! I can’t win for losing. So if I get cancer again, can I sue chemo treatments for making me appreciate food anew, and therefore causing me to overeat and get fat causing me to get more cancer? Yes I’m being facetious and sarcastic, to make a point.

I’ve been rolling my eyes lately at the commercials in which a woman is confronted with a donut or cake or a person dressed up as a cupcake or some such nonsense, and she chooses the healthy fruit-filled cracker-like snack. It’s just so stupid. That supposedly healthy choice is not at all healthy (preservatives, empty calories, and all kinds of other crap) and it is just so unrealistic. I would take that cracker and throw it, and then devour the cake. The ad doesn’t make me buy their product; it does make me cook fatty foods. I once watched a film about food that started off promising, talking about why humans crave the carbs and sugars and what not, but then it turns into what seems like an ad for juicing (I did not check, but I can take a guess at what or who funded this documentary). Not once in any of these types of commercials/films/shows does anyone acknowledge a basic truth:

CAKE TASTES GOOD AND THAT IS WHY I WANT IT. All the fancy juices and jam filled crackers in the world will not change that fact, why will no one admit this?

tumblr_mov6e22YMU1qiaqpmo1_r1_500

I do not have great will power, but when I do manage to exert even just a little will power, it comes from admitting to myself that hey—I want that cake (or any tasty food) because I LIKE IT. I don’t stupidly pretend that better-for-me foods will give me even half the joy or satisfaction the cake could give me.  Otherwise being healthy would be easy, and I would not need films, commercials, and talking head TV doctors lecturing me. Of course, this line of discussion gets too close to that Kate Moss quote (“nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”).

Of course, that opens a whole other can of worms doesn’t it? A friend with numerous chronic illnesses (none of them being cancer) must avoid fats and sugars to avoid going from feeling bad to worse. It is like a simple mathematical equation for her: Insert cake into mouth = feel terrible all night. Lucky for her, she is one of those people who just don’t care much about food, and cutting out certain foods doesn’t faze her, she never misses any of them. Well, that ain’t the case for me and the equation is not so simple in cancer. Being fat is a risk factor but not an absolute. Cutting out all the things I love (wine, chocolate) does not give me a 100% guarantee, and I want that guarantee. And again, don’t send me a lecture, because I’ve heard the argument: being fat is a risk for the post cancer woman because then she’ll just die of a heart attack, if not cancer. Gee, thanks. Health nuts get their panties in a twist about this one all the time, I know it, I understand it. Now, can I have a piece of cheesecake to enjoy?

Sigh, guess I just have to file this problem under the “life’s not fair” section, and muddle on.

But maybe my real point, in all this fussing, whining, and moaning I’m doing here today is this: I have a sneaking suspicion that cancer has made me afraid of enjoying some of the simple things in life I used to like. I wanna go outside; nope, pesticides. I wanna go to the beach; nope, sun = skin cancer. I wanna dye my hair magenta again; nope carcinogens in beauty products. I wanna eat something good; nope, I’ll get fat. It’s like I live in a world full of “nope” now. No, I’m not being so drastic or extreme as to suggest that for all the limits on my life now maybe I should’ve just given up when I got cancer. Not at all. Just sayin’ real simple-like, I know a life-long health-nut guy who stopped eating sugar and his Lymphoma keeps coming back. Remember—no guarantees. All I’m saying is, I could take those twigs on TV a little better if they’d just admit they want the cake, rather than putting their noses in the air, piously waving the sweet treat away and then downing a glass of something that looks like liquefied crap that came out of the lawn mower.

plate

A friend sent me a quote once about not just wanting to survive, but wanting to live. If I can get 10 to 20 more years, well, by golly, they will be ice cream-filled years. Now that is L-I-V-I-N’.

Can We Not Have A Teachable Moment Just This Once

You’d think after that eruption I had a couple of weekends ago I would have stopped following the “Time” magazine health blog. But apparently my idea of fun is hitting myself upside the head with a 2 x 4. I kept getting their posts on my reader, until yesterday. So what pushed me over the edge?

Last Wednesday evening when I heard James Gandolfini died of a heart attack I was at first sad; although I was not a big fan or anything, he was a great actor who happened to be very famous for creating an icon (in my humble opinion, famous people who act for their profession are often NOT very good at it, but he was, let’s get that distinction out there, clearly—and also acknowledge that the best actors are often not famous). Bottom line, I did admire his work if I saw it, but gave him little thought otherwise. I hated the thought I had a split second after hearing the news: oh man, when are they going to start talking about his weight, relating it to his death?

Sure enough, a few hours later talking head doctors are all over the news programs like flies on shit. The next morning, all the morning shows (why the hell do I keep turning these things on? I could remove my risk factor for stroke and nervous breakdown by not watching these shows) had their on-staff health reporters talking about Gandolfini’s past with substance abuse and of course, his weight. I started writing this post on that day, but luckily, all the chatter died down (or I was just outdoors enjoying summer more, out of touch with TV and internet), so I put it aside. Then yesterday I check my WordPress reader and I see a post from “Time” tying Gandolfini’s weight, and his death, with the concept of “the Family” (read: mobsters), and how everyone has the obligation to take care of the self as a part of taking care of their own family/”Family”; a humorous (I guess) nudge that even the mobsters reading the post need to get fit, for the sake of others, you know, if they won’t do it for themselves. The post was weak and silly and said nothing new.

The worst part of the post, however, was a claim that all the other coverage of this event ignored Gandolfini’s weight, contending that commentators sidestepped the topic, saying if an anorexic starlet had been the dead person in question, the health concerns of being too thin would’ve been talked about immediately.

Say whut?

The blog post’s author was apparently not watching/reading the same stuff as I, in which THE WEIGHT was a BIG talking point. No one was being “coy” (author’s word, not mine). In fact, one of the points I wanted to make when I started writing this post—before trashing it last week and reviving it now—was the subtle implication that when someone dies of heart attack (or gets some other disease, like cancer) and they are the least bit overweight, well, gosh darn it all, they’re just asking for it, and they got themselves into this fix because they are fat lazy slobs. Just the fact the on-staff medical reporters were immediately dragged in front of the cameras the morning after to talk about heart disease prevention was, to me, a quiet indictment of Gandolfini, a gentle finger point: this could have been prevented had he eliminated his risk factor (as in, slimmed down). Oh sure, they make sad faces and express sorrow over the treasured celebrity’s death, but in saying “you can prevent this from happening to yourself” while they pull the sad face, they are saying/not saying, “he brought it on himself”. One talking head doctor actually said the phrase “if any good can come out of this” when saying this event is an opportunity for viewers to start becoming aware of their own risk factors. The insensitivity shocked me, but why? Having cancer my own self taught me that some people, when confronted by the sick person, start calculating their own risks, assuring themselves that their diet is better than the patient’s, so they’re “safe”, all the while expressing sadness and comfort to the patient’s face. I remember practically being able to see the wheels in some folks’ heads turning this idea over and over, while they spoke to me, and asked me about my sugar intake.

So you may be thinking to yourself, why is the ol’ Curmudgeon bitching about this? Of course heart disease, being overweight, and substance abuse are dangerous and we all need to take care of ourselves. I get it, being overweight causes problems; I don’t need convincing arguments. I’ve no quarrel with any of this. Yes, we do need to take care of ourselves and I have no objection to creating new healthy habits and taking better care of their bodies—I’ve done it myself. My stupidest example? I LOATHE tomatoes but eat them anyway because they are supposed to be great at preventing cancer.

But why does it take a celebrity event for the public to become aware of health threats? Is there really anyone out there thinking, “OMG, James Gandolfini can die of a heart attack, so maybe I might too?” C’mon, do you really need Dr. Pretty Hair Know It All On TV to tell you this stuff? I learned about health and nutrition in school and high school graduation is now an over 20-year-old event for me, so it’s not like teaching it is new. Are they no longer going over this stuff in school? Was it not covered when the Boomers were in school? But somehow I doubt Boomers are still ignorant of basic health knowledge. I mean, look at the cover of every periodical in the grocery store, rambling on and on about this protects you from cancer, this causes heart disease, yada yada. Info about weight, exercise, not drinking, and all the usual suspects, is the topic of so many news items on TV, so many daytime programs, on the cover of so many magazines, to me it seems impossible to avoid knowing the basics (this is not to say the headlines and abbreviated segments on the news really give in depth coverage of these health topics, I’m sure misinformation and misinterpretation thrives, but the basic message–lose some weight–is there). Messages about proper diet and exercise are everywhere, how the hell are people missing it? Why are talking heads acting like this is all brand new info?

I guess there are a few reasons I’ve not thought about until now. First and foremost is that since the health messages are so plentiful, they have become white noise. I know I tend to tune out every time I hear about some new health property about a mundane food…I’ve heard it all before, and if I hate that food, it could make monkeys fly out of my butt, I still ain’t gonna eat it. (Ha ha, that is a lie, I just admitted to the tomato project. But still, you can tell me yogurt could turn me into the Queen of England, and I won’t eat it. That crap might as well be flavored snot for all it doesn’t appeal to me). I probably register only about 10% of the messages that bombard me; yet the few I do hear annoy me enough to write this post, (maniacal laughter)!! Maybe everyone is distracted by shinier topics: who cares if blueberries can prolong life, because OMG, a Kardashian did something and Miley Cyrus is smoking weed with Snoop Lion! (That sentence alone should make one realize that celebrities should NEVER be role models). Maybe everyone in my demographic already HAS the message, but the messengers have yet to figure out how to reach the other target audiences (yes, I’ve covered this issue before), so they just keep repeating it into the ether, hoping the message will land on the right ears, eventually. And maybe, just maybe—and listen up, this is my favorite idea—we know what is good and bad food, and we just keep eating the bad food because it is yummy. Ooooo, that topic is a whole other blog post (stay tuned).

Side note: I recently ingested a tidbit, not sure where or how (read it, heard it, saw it on YouTube), about how doctors don’t discuss healthy diet and exercise with their patients, and that is going to change in the future. But given the messed up state of health care, not sure how it will help since the people most in need of hearing the message can’t afford to go to the doctor unless it is an emergency type deal. Just sayin’.   

stefon

The other problem with weight is that it such an easy target for those people who get attached to a concept I call “The One Thing”. Allow me to channel SNL’s Stefon for a moment to explain “The One Thing”:

It’s that thing, where people get all hung up on one idea and think it’s the only thing causing all the problems. This concept has everything: simplicity, the luxury of ignoring other ideas, single-mindedness, DJ Baby Bok Choy.

Ha ha, just kidding on that last one (if you’re unfamiliar with SNL’s Stefon, give yourself a time-out laugh and look up one of his sketches).

The best/worst example I saw of “The One Thing” kind of thinking was in some comments about AJ’s Big Announcement. The commenter thought AJ’s action unnecessary because according to this person, the root of all ills, especially cancer, is second-hand smoke (not even, you know, just smoking, whew!), and went on and on and on for several loooong paragraphs about that and ONLY that, to the exclusion of any other idea. My reaction (and I bet others did this too) was to kind of back away, going “ooookkkaay”. Kind of like another SNL character, Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started Talking To At a Party (or whatever her name is). Guess that BRCA thing was just incidental in this person’s mind. Weird. But the catch is, some health or medical professionals get into that rut too, and I get a little worried that by focusing on “The One Thing”, other factors are getting missed. It seemed as the day after Gandolfini died wore on, I heard progressively less about his past substance abuse, and eventually only heard about the weight factor.

created by bogswallop
created by bogswallop

Back to the guy who inspired this post: Gandolfini. I never again want to talk about him (or any artist), in combination with heart disease, health, risk factors, or drug abuse or especially weight. I want, from this moment on, to always and only, talk about him like this: great actor, great contributions to art, to the American cultural landscape, to pop culture, his portrayal of that most American of icons, The Mobster. I can’t learn any lessons from his death because it did not teach me anything I did not know (read this in Frankenstein’s voice: “overweight—bad, smoke—bad, exercise—good”). Just this once, can we honor an artist without making an example of the life outside of art? Do we always have to learn an important health lesson?

Always In Outrage Mode

Yes I’m a curmudgeon so, yes, I do tend to be a raw nerve, always ready to be annoyed.

My last post included the quote about “just because you’re offended doesn’t make you right”, and I’m finding that I need to take my own advice so late tonight.

Looking through the Tastefully Offensive blog, which I normally like (stupid pictures of dogs & cats!), I found Dina Goldstein’s “Happily Ever After?” series, featuring Disney princesses (Snow White, Cinderella, and all them) in various “real issues” (quote from the artist’s website). So we get Cinderella drinking heavily in a bar, Snowy with a bunch of kids and living in, uh, less than a castle, etc. And poor Rapunzel, sitting in a hospital, with her long hair sitting beside her, bald head shining, getting chemo. Yes, she has cancer, according to the artist’s explanation.  (Now would be a good time to check it out, just Google her or the series name, I’m uncomfortable including a link).

I am basically fine with the work; I interpret it as a challenge to the Disney and the princess culture that seems to swallow young girls. My issue is with Tastefully Offensive, because they created a blog post featuring all the photos and titled it “Fallen Princesses”.

So my question is, how is getting cancer make one “fallen”? I suppose none of the princesses are really fallen anyway; this isn’t the 1950s where getting pregnant makes a woman fallen, and it is a woman’s right to drink up a storm in a bar. But the cancer one really bugs me, it insults me because it hints at that “blame the patient” thinking.

But the name of the blog does contain the word offensive. So I re-read the “outraged cancer patient/stop blaming the patient” comments I wrote at the bottom as I prepared to re-blog, and then I hit cancel.

Damn. I hate taking a taste of my own medicine

To the Offended

I read with delight of Scorchy’s petition’s victory with Facebook, concerning the removal of the SCAR Project’s photos. But a note she put in her post caught my attention: “Facebook does not actively search for content to remove, but only reviews content after it has been reported.”

I removed my Facebook page over a year ago for non-cancer related personal reasons, so I know little of what they are up to these days other than this issue, and other breast cancer prejudice that I’ve mentioned in older posts. But the way I understand this is that some Facebook users were offended by the pictures of breast-less, scarred, (formerly) cancerous women, and then complained. I’m curious as to whether any of these people complain about the boobie-centric pictures in ads that accompany breast cancer events.

Cancer, surgery scars, and death are indeed offensive but they all happen regardless of our best efforts. Putting them out of the line of vision, ignoring them, will not make them go away. What will these complainers do if they get cancer, get surgery, get scars? Not look in the mirror? I suppose their answer to me would be—“no, but I wouldn’t put my pictures all over the internet.” Of course I disagree with that, see my Fables of the Reconstruction page.

And here is the best response to those who complain about mastectomy pictures on the internet I’ve found: “Just because you’re offended, doesn’t mean you’re right.” Ricky Gervais

Oh, And Another Thing: Stop Using Fear of Breast Cancer to Further Your Agenda

This is what I get for posting pre-coffee. I got up, walked dogs and wrote a post in my head while doing that, typed and posted, THEN wandered over to the coffee maker, having forgotten to include a big point in that previous post.

The worst thing about the “Time” magazine post had to be the damn title: “More Breast-Feeding Could Save Billions and Prevent Thousands of Breast Cancer Cases”. Those last 6 words. I mentioned in the first of this unintentionally ongoing series of posts that I follow news and blogs to keep up with health and breast cancer issues. Putting words like “prevent” and “breast cancer” in a title will guarantee not only I, but many women will read an article. And the article is not even about breast cancer, really. The whole point is to get folks to see the importance of breast feeding. I mean, I could care less about breast feeding issues since I never wanted kids, and for years even I’ve received the message loud and clear: breast feeding is the best thing to do in the whole world. Think pink ribbon awareness is achieved, maybe even over saturated? So is this issue. When a childless curmudgeon such as myself gets it, much like the NFL draped in pink, it is a signal the target market has “got it”. My guess is that since the breast feeding community still puts the message out there so much is that certain demographics are not being reached. Just like with pink ribbon marketing—the white woman of a certain income level (former income level in my case) has the message, and repeating it over and over to that group does not translate into getting the message to the other demographics—so change the tactics, OK? No I don’t know how to do that, if I did, I’d be doing it.

Now, don’t comment to me about breast feeding and getting the message to whatever group is not yet doing it. That ain’t my ax to grind today, or any day, so telling me problems with breast feeding awareness will fall on deaf ears.

What is pissing me off is that once again, the media AND advocates for one issue are taking breast cancer fear and using it to further their own agenda. Want attention for your cause? Figure out a way to drag breast cancer in your sound bite. The words will get in the headline or title of the article, and certainly in the tags, and presto! Instant readership. And hell, you’ll even get someone like me, who does not give a damn about your issue, to write not one, not two, but three posts about your issue—yes I realize all my ranting is just feeding the mess. I’ve talked about this before in Does Breast Cancer Owe It to Other Cancers?, advocates for other health issues cleverly realize that Breast Cancer Pink is the Big Deal. Want attention? Just say any magic words that include “breast cancer”. “Heart disease kills more women than breast cancer.” “Breast feeding prevents breast cancer.” The result is immediate attention for your personal cause.

Those of us who criticize Komen and Big Pink for breast cancer fear mongering to sell unnecessary procedures and extra mammograms (hmph, mammograms, snort of derision), just look what Komen and Pink have launched. Now everyone is doing the fear mongering dance. Everyone screams “breast cancer” to get attention even when what they have to say has little to do with breast cancer, and the public will continue to tire of hearing about breast cancer. And the problems of breast cancer will continue to go overexposed and unsolved.

In the previous post I called upon those doctors, Dr. Kathleen Marinelli, MD and Dr. Melissa C. Bartick, quoted in the piece to come up with a way to expand this “prevention method” for women who do not want children. Perhaps that is unfair for me to ask that, since their fields of expertise are Perinatal Medicine & Neonatal Medicine and Research, respectively, and I see no mention of Oncology in relation to their names according to good ol’ Google. I lay the blame not only at the feet of “Time” magazine and all media, but also at the feet of health professionals who sensationalize their health issue by using breast cancer fear as a selling tool. Don’t talk about breast cancer unless you’re giving me something I, Jane Q. Breast Cancer Patient, can use. And no, breast feeding to prevent breast cancer is not useful.

Part 2—In Which I Do Not Cool Down Later

I suppose normal people get mad about something, and then cool down about an issue as more time passes. Not so for the curmudgeon. I wrote the previous post in a fit of white hot anger. I went off. I blew a gasket. And a million other clichés anyone can think of. One would think that after 12 hours have passed, my hot head would’ve cooled down. Nope. If anything, my head is hotter.

I wrote from my narrow minded own point of view. That “Time” post contained some—for lack of a better word, triggers—for me. I get so tired every Mother’s Day, the women who’ve chosen to not have children write blog posts or news articles defending their decision. Well, I like reading these pieces, it makes me feel like less of a freak for my own stance. I just hate the way these things pop up every May in an almost defensive “I chose not to have children and that’s ok, I’m not just some sad, unfulfilled woman crying this whole day” way that irks me. I used to think not having kids was a normal, logical choice for myself. With each passing year, I feel more and more as if I’m viewed as some kind of radical, sticking my middle finger up at society by not procreating. Well, yeah, I often am sticking up my middle finger, but in lots of ways for lots of reasons, not child related!

The other trigger is the focus on estrogen positive cancers, ignoring HER2 positives. I actually understand that a bit; only 20% are HER2 positive, so naturally most conversations or information about breast cancer will be about the majority, as maybe it should be. Come to think of it, I marvel at the invention of Herceptin. I cannot believe Big Pharma went out to make a drug for such a small part of a lucrative market (gonna have to read up on the history of that drug). But hey, that drug is the third top seller of all cancer drugs (see here), so I guess I shouldn’t feel bad for the poor ol’ drug companies (YES, being VERY sarcastic). I imagine the sophisticated marketing plan discussion for the drug boiled down to “hey we are only going to be able to get a portion of these desperate women (read breast cancer patients), I know, let’s charge the shit out the women who want this drug!”

But this morning I put myself in the shoes of women who had kids and got hit by cancer…especially estrogen positive cancer. Or wanted kids, and have been denied the chance to have them because of cancer. Or are indeed estrogen positive and chose not to have kids. How do these women feel? If any of these women interpreted the “Time” post the way I did, (that having a baby and breastfeeding it for a year is a way to prevent breast cancer, and if you got breast cancer because you didn’t do this you deserve it, and you’ve put a burden on public health), what must these women feel? If you are such a woman, reading this, I welcome comments (to me, to others, have a conversation here if you want, let loose, I LOVE that). I hesitate to speak for any such woman. I’ve done so before (here), in putting myself in the shoes of those who get so-called unnecessary mastectomies, because I can understand it, although I got the “approved” lumpectomy instead. (Still cannot believe I did that, I fall into so many small percentages regarding cancer, I don’t think the “low probability of breast cancer returning in same or other breast” as doctors like to yammer on about can actually apply to me. I had less than half a percent of a chance of getting cancer before 40 and I did, so you over there with your low stats bullshit, bite me.)

So thoughts on this topic—let ‘em rip, because I want to know. And thanks Cancer In My Thirties, for making me view it another way!

In the meantime, my challenge to the two doctors (Dr. Kathleen Marinelli, MD and Dr. Melissa C. Bartick, MD) quoted in the “Time” post regarding how breast cancer can be prevented by breast feeding: Good job on finding a prevention that many of us are so desperate for. Now, figure out a way to take that knowledge and turn it into another preventative method. Not every woman is cut out to be a mother, and they should not feel like not fulfilling their biological imperative will kill them.