get real about breast cancer

Sure, I appreciate all the money that's been raised in search of a cure. But I can't be the only one who dreads Breast Cancer Awareness Month and all things Pink.

Monday, November 06, 2006


We made it! Another Breast Cancer Awareness Month behind us. I'm already planning for next year.

Since most people think of Halloween, not cancer, when it's October, I thought we might combine the two events into a spectacular Trick or Treat for Breast Cancer extravaganza. As befits my philosophy, there'll be nothing pink about it. We'll send groups of women to trick or treat at their state capitol buildings in appropriate breast cancer garb. How about wearing a hospital gown, dragging along an IV pole, sporting drains filled with fake blood? Perhaps a few topless women who've had mastectomies? What about someone in a skull cap, carrying an airsickness bag? I'm considering wrapping myself in thick pink satin ribbon and carrying a trick-or-treat bag with a pharmaceutical company logo print which is overflowing with cash.

We can lobby for appropriate legislation. It might be a good time to raise awareness about cancer-causing chemicals in cosmetics.

So come on! Who's with me?!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Is a breast cancer vaccine possible? Quoting directly from the Lifetime TV website:

"Dr. Yvonne Paterson, a breast cancer survivor, is developing a possible vaccine that may put a stop to the disease that takes so many lives. The vaccine, Lovaxin B, would teach the immune system how to attack cancer cells and is currently in pre-clinical testing. While the vaccine is far from being ready for public distribution, Dr. Paterson is enthusiastic about the test results they have seen so far. "We found that we can stop the tumor from growing out to 100 days, at which time we stopped measuring since this is a long time for experiments of this type," said Dr. Paterson. The tumors stopped growing or went completely away."

Dr. Paterson is the founder of Advaxis, Inc., a biotechnology company, as well as a Professor of Microbiology at the University of Pennsylvania."

I'm not a scientist, so I don't have any idea whether or not this is feasible, but it sure is a nice dream.

Sunday, October 22, 2006


What's the connection between the women's health movement of the 1970s and the pink ribbons of today? Or what's the LACK of connection?

Without women fighting for choice in the 60s and 70s, we wouldn't have become empowered to demand choices in our treatments. The environment that began with a few women learning to examine their own cervix with their own plastic speculum contributed to a culture where women began to be able to speak openly about their breast cancer, without shame.

Women began to demand humane treatment in childbirth -- to have their partners with them while giving birth, to be able to discuss options for labor and make informed choices. To chose to take pain medication, or labor without. To not have an episiotomy if they believed research showed a better, safer way.

And now, we have choices in cancer treatment. We can be informed. We can choose chemo, or no chemo. But how many women are given accurate information about side effects before they make their choice? How many women are told (now that we know) that chemobrain can linger for at least a decade? Do women understand that their sexuality can be obliterated along with the estrogen in their bodies?

Can a woman chose to be unhappy and angry when she has breast cancer, or is that anger squelched on message boards where some believe that without a good attitude, you're doomed? What IS a good attitude? Is it being happy about your cancer and seeing it as a growth opportunity, or is it simply choosing the best treatment you can find, and putting one foot in front of the other?

Is it okay to say that there's nothing pink about breast cancer?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

When I was in treatment, I noticed a friend wearing a lovely, albeit beribboned, bracelet. Because I admired hers, she gave one to me. I wore it to chemo treatments and fingered the hearts, and they did help me strengthen my resolve to get through this ordeal.

I didn't realize at the time that the 2003 Brighton Breast Cancer Awareness bracelet would become a collectible! On ebay, this limited edition charm bracelet bearing the words "trust", "heal", "courage" on silver hearts now fetches up to $110 ("Buy It Now! $180"). As one seller says, "This is a perfect gift for a Birthday, Mother's Day, a Breast Cancer Survivor, or a Brighton Collector. This is a necessary set to add to any Brighton Collection! " Well! I'm glad cancer has provided someone with a few new collectibles! Perhaps if we lobby hard, McDonalds will make Breast Cancer Happy Meals, and include a whole series of Breast Cancer Barbies or Beanie Babies!

Collect them all, and then sell them to pay your mortgage when you exceed your sick days due to treatment.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

This mock-up of Cosmo magazine was one of a series of public service ads placed at bus benches in San Francisco. Now, THAT's Real Breast Cancer Awareness!

Friday, October 13, 2006

If I had another kind of cancer, I'd be jealous of the pink ribbons, wouldn't you?! Here's a suggestion for a testicular cancer mascot. Let's see this on a Campbell's soup can!

Thursday, October 12, 2006



Yay! Breast Cancer Barbie as she should be, courtesy of the Young Survival Coalition. Details of note include surgical drains, lymphedema wrap, post-mastectomy surgical dressing and nearby toilet. Now THAT's a Barbie I can support. Wait! Where's her pink ribbon?!