The Annual Pink Rant
Updated: Oct 6
As is my wont, it is time for the annual "don't be stupid" campaign against the pink crusaders. Why, you may ask, is this such a big deal for me? For starters, it's a scam.
Let's break it down. I have posted a dated image above. Those were the statistics for 2020. Please note nowhere on there does it say that if you buy a pink KitchenAid mixer will this stop the disease. It doesn't tell you to donate to any specific charity aimed at "awareness." Because here is the thing, we are aware. We've had this thing hammered over our heads ever since Susan Komen died from breast cancer and her sister saw a way to profit from her death.
That sounds pretty cynical, I realize, but boiled down to the essentials, it is exactly what happened. The Komen scam has a poor track record of ratios of money used for disease research versus expenses (aka salaries, etc.). They put the pink thing all over the place, exhorting people to buy a bunch of pink crap every October to raise awareness.
Some years ago, they decreed that the money raised by local chapters would no longer be administered by the locality. Instead they were to send all the money to the mother ship, and they, in turn would distribute funds for local use. Our local group, as with many others across the country, balked. They already had their funding going straight out the door to support the women and men who had breast cancer. The mother ship was going to keep a cut, and the local folks knew the negative impact on their programs. They closed their chapters rather than comply.
My personal issue was the emphasis on awareness rather than on hard-core science. There is a cure already, but it is not a palatable nor easy fix. It involves our environment and the impact it has on the human body. Therefore what we really need, in my book, is science that will bring about a better result for those who are unlucky enough to get the awful diagnosis. To date, metastatic breast cancer still commands a terrifically bad percentage for younger women. A cousin once removed was diagnosed as a young woman. She made it through the magic five years, we all thought, until oops. The cancer had metastasized to her back, and it claimed her life. It is this area that needs a lot of funding for research.
Currently, oncologists are putting metastatic patients on infusions of a drug that was originally developed as a bone enhancement remedy. The trouble is it has some very serious side effects that involve osteonecrosis of the jawbone, as well as sudden, unexplainable femur fractures, and some other nasty things. In 2022 my own oncologist breezily handed me a form for my dentist, telling me they were now, routinely, putting all the patients on this infusion protocol immediately after surgery, but first they had to know the patient had a healthy mouth. My dentist was, to put it mildly, a little unsettled. Her body language told me I had to do my homework. My wonderful Big Kitty was at the oral surgeon's shortly thereafter, and asked him what he thought. Oh, my! He went up in smoke! He is only one of a handful of local oral surgeons, but as of 2022, he had averaged a dozen patients annually who had had the infusion(s) and now had osteonecrosis of their jawbone. And, he declared, there was not a damned thing he could do for them! It kind of gave lie to the 2017 statistic that only 1% of patients will have this issue. Indeed, later on I found a statement paper from the dentists who deal mostly with bones and such (I forget their actual professional title, but you can look it up.). They acknowledged that this off-label use of the drug was becoming a standard practice in the breast oncology world, and their position was that patients needed to be followed before and during and after the infusions by people within their profession so that they could employ mitigation to the extent possible. To the extent possible. In other words, they can't save a patient's jawbone, necessarily. You can either try to keep the cancer from migrating to your bones, or maybe never be able to chew your food again.
The image above gives the statistic for 2020, and I am one of those 2.3 million. I was lucky. I had a visible lump and The World's Greatest P.A. went into high gear. I was in surgery within two months of the discovery. Mine was not a metastatic version, unlike my mother's. And, I had a lovely way of compartmentalizing my situation. Menopause had caused my already respectable bra size to increase to the point where I was utterly miserable. In my eyes, while Lefty had cancer, "I" was getting reduction surgery on Medicare's nickel, and I didn't have to fight to get it.
Following my surgery, my surliness toward this pink phenomenon hasn't abated. I still think it's a damned crock. Let's take this example. Wacoal, that purveyor of very expensive bras, runs a "Fit for the Cure" thing every September. The only reason I wore them was that I had burgeoned into the DDD territory, and they had bras that fit my small rib cage. I will not tell you they were wonderful. I will tell you they did the job, but I absolutely was NOT in love with them. They were a necessary evil. A very dear friend worked in that department, and I dutifully showed up for that event not because I was happy to be supportive of the sham, but rather because I am supportive of her. I have a lot of admiration and respect for her.
Here is the thing, Wacoal's bras cost a damned fortune, and they are rarely on sale. This is a company that can afford to make a sizable, tax deductible contribution to ALL the breast cancer research foundations that are out there. The Fit for the Cure is a scam. If you buy their bras they will give money. Really? How big of them. But the kicker is that of all the foundations, who do they choose to give the money to? The one with the worst track record of money actually given for research, Komen.
This year I balked. I have been lucky enough to fit into a different brand, with a bra that does exactly what I need it to do, and while it isn't the prettiest one out there, it is a good one. I hated to not support my friend, but I also wasn't going to buy one of Wacoal's overpriced, uncomfortable bras just so they could pretend to make a contribution they could and SHOULD make anyway!
I did my due diligence and found The Breast Cancer Research Foundation. It was founded by Estée Lauder's family. Their track record of money raised to money given is very good. They do have a "buy pink stuff" shop on their website, but oh my. Is it ever high end! It's not cheap pink crap. But I still have the attitude that those companies do not need me to buy their stuff in order to make corporate contributions. Every single one is already the recipient of our country's corporate welfare, so they don't need my help. The Foundation on the other hand, does get a check from me, in honor of my wonderful surgeon, and her fabulous D.N.P., who tends to me twice a year. Forget about my oncologist. After that infusion thing, I tolerate the twice yearly checks in her office because that's the source of my anti-cancer prescription.
I have a friend who has neglected her health pretty religiously. She needed a joint replacement and because she "doesn't like to be told what to do," did not follow the pre-surgical protocols. She also didn't do the in-home PT nor follow the directions for after-care. (I watched the Joint School video; not willing to bet money that she did, because if she did, she sure was non-compliant!) Were it not for our pal, Nurse Ratchet accompanying her to her medical visits, she never would have made the appointment for a pneumonia vaccination. As it is, The World's Greatest P.A. gave her the referral for a mammogram (she has never, in 67 years, had one) and wanted her to do a colonoscopy, another necessary cancer screening. She balked at the latter and never made the appointment for the mammogram. And this after being a long-distance cheerleader during the Plague Lockdown while I was undergoing my breast cancer surgery and recuperation! You'd think she'd be on that, right? But noooooo.
My mil was the same. she was in her 70s when her longtime internist retired and she had to start seeing a new doc. That one made her get her first mammogram. My mil was a nurse for crying out loud. She should have known to do this and how important it was. But noooooo. She made the mistake of crabbing to me about the damned mammogram and I gave her a long stare and simply said, "I wish my mother could have had one. She might be alive today." Kinda stopped my mil in her tracks.
Forget the pink crap, forget the "awareness" campaigns. It's all a retail gimmick. What IS important is for women to do their own breast exams, get regular check-ups where a breast exam is performed, and get an annual mammogram. Early detection was the key factor in my good (so far) outcome. Women need to be vigilant about their health and they need to be persistent because we don't have enough women health care providers - those are the ones who listen and those are the ones who jump right on getting you referred. If you are lucky enough to have women providing your health care, then for Goddess' sake, don't be an ass; be respectful enough of them to do as they tell you and get the screenings.
I wish it had been available for my mother.
I seldom have the opportunity to add to a post because of a new development, so I am absolutely over the moon about this.
The friend about whom I crabbed above has actually done what The World's Greatest P.A. wanted her to do! The colon cancer screening kit was used and the sample sent. She didn't say if she got results yet, but she said she did it. She's lied to us before, like when she didn't take the pre-op gut meds the surgeon prescribed, and didn't do the pre-op exercises that were designed to make rehab go quickly, but we're going to take her word for it and hope she isn't being stupid about this, too.
She also gave us a date for her mammogram. THAT made me very happy.
Another friend found a pea-sized lump just four months or so since her last mammogram. This emphasizes the importance of self-examination in between The Big Squeezes. I pledged to go to the appointments with her, but am hoping it is just a fibroid or calcification. If it isn't, well, we'll get her lined up with The Dream Team that took care of me, and we're off to the races. This time no recuperation during The Plague Lockdown!
To the people who responded to me privately on social media, thanks for the funny tales and insights. You all rock!