Really, I don’t know exactly why I feel outrage. It’s just October. I really love autumn in the Midwest. But, Nancy Brinker and seemingly the whole country, have taken away some of its beauty. Nobody means any harm by it. Good intentions abound. But, sh$t enough of the good intentions! If I intend to bake you cookies, and I never do it, do you still think they are delicious? If I borrow money from you every Friday and intend to pay you back on Monday and never do it, do you still break even? If I wear pink all of October, have I saved a life? If I buy pink tic tacs, boxes of Cheerios with pink ribbons, have I supported anybody that’s doing anything at all to end breast cancer? Is that the goal?
Ok, that’s why I’m pissed. That’s not the goal. The goal is to make you aware that women and men get breast cancer. And, seemingly, to make you aware that, if caught early, this disease doesn’t kill you.
40,000 women and men die every year from breast cancer. Same number as in the ’90s. Not my idea of progress. But, we’ve been AWARE for years now of that number. Of all those women and men who were “caught early”, 30% will have a recurrence. Not my idea of being cured. I am uncertain what percentage of this 30% will have a local recurrence and be ok again for some period of time vs what percentage will have a metastatic recurrence. I am sure that an oncologist will tell you that NO ONE is ever cured of breast cancer, regardless of the stage at which they were diagnosed. Sobering.
Yes, there have been additions to treatments. We now have some targeted treatments in addition to chemotherapy. That’s a very good thing. Very good! But, I get emails every time a new clinical trial hits my “profile”. Most of these clinicals include the same ol’ chemos in new combinations. Throwing darts, that’s all. Better than not having darts, to be sure. But, what the H E Double toothpicks is happening to all the pink money???? Is it just a big engine that supports itself? Am I being too cynical? Perhaps.
But, I’m tired of the women on the Komen posters with scarves on their heads and smiles on their faces. I’m tired of hearing that we’re “making strides against cancer”. No, we really aren’t. Really. We have the same damn death toll. 20 years at least…the same death toll. Ask those women in the poster how many days/months/years have gone by that they haven’t been afraid to touch their breasts…afraid the “beast” has returned…afraid to be…like ME! They can smile for now. And they SHOULD, of course. But, if they are in that 30%, their survival rate will be the same as mine. Pretty much 0%.
Ok, what do I mean? People are living longer than ever with this disease. Really? Or are they being diagnosed earlier, so that the stats make it seem like they lived longer? Most women with metastatic disease were first diagnosed with an early stage breast cancer. The survival stats start with that initial diagnosis. I am the statisticians nightmare. I wasn’t diagnosed until I was already metastatic.
That’s it. That’s the rant. Don’t be fooled by the cute scarves. No one is really cured. Yes, we’re living longer with the disease, because we know for longer that we have it. Thank you mammograms. But, if you are in the barrel of women and men who become metastatic, you will very likely die from this.
Rest of the rant….because only 3% of Pink Funds go to research. The rest go to awareness, free mammograms, free wigs/scarves, etc. Those are all nice things. But, we’ll keep needing more and more of those things if the real problem isn’t addressed. We need a cure. Duh. Really, does anybody even need to type that? If 30% of people with breast cancer will recur/become metastatic, shouldn’t 30% of the Pink Funds go to research.
Much, much, thanks to Breast Cancer Research Foundation and MetAvivor. I hope you can save my life. Or someone else’s. Komen, get on board!!