Remedial Course

Read something in the blogosphere that made me remember writing this. Might have to repost now and again until at least the media gets it right–internet “experts” never will.

Somebody Needs to Buy These Media People a Dictionary

So I’m watching GMA Friday morning and there is a brief segment about this co-host on Dancing With the Stars, Brooke Burke-Charvet. Now, I do not watch the Dancing show, know nothing of this woman, and have not bothered to look into her story on the internet, not interested enough. My complaint is the way the dark-haired female reporter, and her producers at GMA, presented the info. This Burke-Charvet woman has or had thyroid cancer, and is doing some promo thing on some health magazine about how her cancer scare means she no longer worries about looking young, and she wants people to live healthy, exercise (the usual crap), and get check-ups with doctors. Now, I do not know if it was Burke-Charvet who actually said people need to engage in preventative practices by getting annual check-ups, I will give her the benefit of the doubt. But certainly the GMA reporter said that the idea behind the campaign is for people to prevent health issues, like cancer, by going to their doctor. Apparently this Burke-Charvet has always lived healthy and had no symptoms, and it was on a routine visit to her doctor her thyroid cancer was detected.

In what universe is early detection equal to prevention?! Going to the doctor and learning she had cancer did NOT prevent cancer. She already had the cancer, therefore, it was NOT prevented. It was detected early, and that is great, but it was not prevented no matter how the media spins it.

This is the kind of thing the media does that drives me crazy. Throw around words like “prevent” so people feel in control or empowered. How many times will I have to write this? Some things are out of our control, if cancer had a motto it would be “shit happens”. This idea we can control every single thing that happens to us, cancer included, is just extreme hubris.

It is important for the media to get this language of cancer right. By suggesting to viewers that “prevention” is within our grasp just by getting regular medical check-ups is damn near negligent. I repeat, if a regular doctor’s visit (as in a visit not instigated by symptoms), reveals the presence of cancer, that is EARLY DETECTION, not PREVENTION.

The media needs to pull their collective act together. I am especially annoyed this segment was on GMA, a show featuring a news anchor with well documented bouts of cancer. She and her cast mates should know this difference all too well. Shame on you, GMA.

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.

6 thoughts on “Remedial Course”

  1. dear CC,

    remedial course, indeed! dictionary – super to the max, indeed! how can this keep happening, time after time – this irresponsible language that sends a message that is so faulty???!!! I share your frustration, and applaud you for this post.

    much love,

    Karen xoxox


    1. I loooong for the day prevention is not confused with early detection. I found this old post by reading another’s post about silly internet sites pushing silliness, and I realized, it really is a much more pervasive issue. Sigh. xoxox CC


  2. Well said, again. Like you I find the media irresponsible and inappropriate when addressing many aspects of cancer, particularly the whole screening and prevention part. I was screened for 23 years and it didn’t prevent anything. It didn’t even find the 2cm lump that I discovered myself just 5 months after a clear mammogram…. Giving people this false sense of security is wrong. Screening and check-ups hope to catch things early, catching things early is more likely to make them treatable but treatable doesn’t equal cured. There is still much to do on the awareness front, starting with the media!


    1. Hmm, you remind me of that kind of comment some get, like, you got cancer–didn’t you get your mammo or your pap smear? Testing for early detection seems to be the only tool medicine is selling–I want better tools that keep me from getting cancer!
      I wish I knew how to get the media to report a more whole truth. Grr.


  3. Something came up just the other day about ‘prevention’ that also angered me, but I can’t for the life of me remember what it was all about. Anyway, you hit the nail on the head again with perfect precision.


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