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.

Author: Cancer Curmudgeon

Oct 2010 diagnosed with Stage 3, HER2+ Breast Cancer. Completed treatment Jan 2012. Waaaaaay over pink. Applying punk rock sensibility to how I do cancer.

9 thoughts on “Oh, And Another Thing: Stop Using Fear of Breast Cancer to Further Your Agenda”

    1. Thanks! Honestly, am thinking of writing Time, at the very least the title of the article should say breast feeding helps lower hypertension risk (according to the numbers in the actual article). I know this is just one example of this sort of misleading media adventures, so maybe I should just stop picking on Time. I maybe a chickenshit, but I almost don’t want to know of anymore misleading media pieces like this, you know?


  1. YOU TELL EM’, CC – WTF is the MATTER with these people??? will they never GET IT? i have my doubts, garnering attentions and big headlines is much nore important than truth and clarity – that is, until WE in the BC community say WE HAVE YOUR NUMBER, YOU ARE WAY OFF THE MARK, AND GET REAL FOR CHRISTSAKES!!!

    love and thanks for your refusal to allow glossing over these tactics, xoxo

    karen, TC


    1. Did you see this in the Time piece: “If new moms adhered to the recommended guidelines that urge them to breast-feed each child they give birth to for at least one year, they could theoretically stave off up to 5,000 cases of breast cancer, about 54,000 cases of hypertension and nearly 14,000 heart attacks annually.” See the numbers, how much more breast feeding impacts those other health issues? And what health issue was in the title?
      I know 3 posts is excessive. I just got so annoyed, and man, these media conglomerates or journalists (not sure who named the article) need to be called on this. I know it happens more than I am aware of, but I saw this one, so I’m yelling about it. Don’t know what else to do, really.

      As always thank you for commenting and liking my addled musings…you keep me going!


  2. I’m with you on this one… I never had a particular instinct that I wanted to have kids, and then I was told it was almost impossible for me to anyway. What good is stuff about the benefits of breastfeeding to people like me? I want to know why it’s beneficial and how that can be replicated. Great thought-provoking article.


    1. Thanks for reading and commenting!
      This post was a follow up to the 2 previous posts. On the whole I get why the study was done–to encourage workplace and any place, really to provide time and space for breast feeding–which is great! But because of the article/post title, I read it as a breast cancer patient, who never wanted kids and it set me off for many reasons. Bottom line, the benefits of BF are better in regards to heart disease and hypertension, but once again, breast cancer is used to get readership, and that irked me most.


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