SELL!

I am re-posting what I wrote a year and a day ago. Why? Because the issues are boiling up again. (The relentless repetition in CancerLand Culture deserves a post of its own some day, I’m beginning to view relentless repetition as a weapon.) In my view, and I think others share this view, medical establishments are misleading the public with their ads focusing on patients fighting cancer, and winning. Rather than leading a change in the discourse, a change focusing on science and facts, some large “name”, as well as some small-town no-name, facilities have chosen to perpetuate the dominant, persistent, same story-different day narrative of cancer as this opportunity for personal growth, so patients can rise to the challenge and beat cancer–along with a little help from staggeringly expensive treatments provided by the facility in question, naturally.

Some would say it’s just as bad when a fundraising organization does this, since they are often a resource for medical facts for the newly diagnosed. I don’t completely agree, but I still think the images they sell with the narrative are repugnant. But it certainly is not new, it keeps popping up, as I say in this old post. Lots of folks were upset with the Stage 4 martial arts patient in the Komen ad last year; I just thought it was BUSINESS as usual.

I don’t know what the answer is-yes there needs to be funding for research and so far the selling of positive, upbeat, winner patients (and boobies–don’t forget ta-tas and immaturity as a selling tool) has worked. To me there is no use in denying this, in fact, it needs to be recognized and discussed. I am simultaneously repulsed and grateful (see Burden of Gratitude). Cancer patients are commodities. Some others in the community likely think: “So what? As long as the money pours in to do research so maybe I can survive, who cares?” And maybe they have a point. But it comes at a cost (again, see Burden of Gratitude).

No I don’t have a better idea–that is not my field of expertise, so it is not very fair to expect a solution from me. I’m just complaining as usual. Wondering what you all think of all this. All I know is, there is something very unsettling, very creepy about it all. And certainly a whiff of dishonestly, of deception.

Anyway, am I a Cancer Patient or Blender? What are you?

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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.

8 thoughts on “SELL!”

  1. My son is studying a Masters in stem cells/genetics behind cancer alongside a full time histopathology job where he processes tissue from people like us so cancer can be properly diagnosed. To help him out I proof-read his course-work and essays. Much of this is well beyond my level of science but what’s clear, even to me as a novice, is that cancer is extremely complicated. Much more complicated than I’ve ever seen published in any mainstream media story. So I’m left wondering whether hiding the complexity is in some way deliberate? What it really means is that it doesn’t matter whether we’re young, old, fit, fat, tall, short or have children. Those things might play some supporting role but they aren’t the dominant factor in who develops cancer and what happens to them next. That answer lies deep in our genetic code and completely outside our control. The disturbing truth when you get to this level is that fighting is futile. If your code is corrupt it doesn’t matter if you fight, you don’t have the right things to work with to get well. But this is a very unpalatable message because it says “what happens to you is most likely predestined – get used to it.”

    Many of us wonder why two people with the same kind of cancer at the same stage can have radically different outcomes, even if they get exactly the same treatment. The harsh reality is that cancer seems to be a disease of one, as unique to each of us as our fingerprints. If you tell people that they might realise finding a cure means finding millions of cures and getting cured right now is no so differnt to winning the lottery – a case of pot luck. We’re still using treatments from the post-war era, we’re still getting cancer and we’re still dying. Looking at the science, even with my limited experience, shows we’ve only just scratched the surface. But if you tell people that they might start thinking there is no cure/its a wild goose chase and the money will stop rolling in.

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    1. Yes, I agree, and I do get it that all the positive stuff is how the money came rolling in in the first place. People want a pay off for their investment, even if it’s a donation. But I get tired of it all, and just fed up–and then I write posts like thees! Oh well. Thanks!

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  2. I hear ya! I get annoyed every time I see one of those ads too. And I can’t help but to think that this is a way for these organizations to push us to the side after treatments (maybe I am over-thinking this). Aside from being just another Mktg. campaign, it is also a way to hypnotize all of us to make us believe that by staying positive and ‘fighting hard’ (and not complaining) we can ‘beat cancer’. It sort of suggests that it is up to us to survive, and no one else. It is unfair and unacceptable to put such burden on us patients. It creates more divisions than the ones we already have in cancerland. But these are also lies. I can’t stand the language that is often used. And like you mentioned on a previous post, these organizations should be leading with facts, otherwise, we’ll be stuck forever.

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    1. I’m horrified that medical institutions are not leading the change. The dark-humor, sarcastic side of me looks at these things and wonders if they are insulating themselves from lawsuits–hey, we did our part, but you didn’t fight so don’t blame us if your cancer isn’t gone. But that is just my grumpy imagination on overdrive today. Sigh. Thanks for commenting.

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  3. I agree. The only thing new I’ve heard is Joe Biden’s “shoot for the moon” analogy. I think this, if taken up by cancer fundraisers, could be a new approach to fundraising…assuming the research being funded is equally revolutionary! It’s a message of hope which takes into consideration the complexity of the problem, but since the moon landing happened it is a good example of what focussed person power can accomplish when appropriately coordinated and directed toward a goal.

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    1. Yes, I think acknowledging the complexity, and the challenges complexity brings, would be good. Part of me thinks stuff like these ads are what led to the sucker punch I felt from cancer. All these pink parades and warrior messages got in my head, and when my feelings and experience did not match those things–well, I felt sucker punched! Thanks!

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