Grr! Yes, it's Breast Cancer Awareness Month again, and I have been protecting myself by staying out of the fray as best as possible. But like some of my fellow grumbly sisters out there, all it takes is that one tweet, that one ad, that one poster, that one pinkified thing to set off a rant.
And here it is. In and of itself, perfectly benign, if you'll pardon me the anti-pun:
@AmericanCancer Pls. join us for Breast #cancer #TweetChat tmrw 10/15, 12-1 pm PT! Use #breastchat. http://t.co/03pvQxjzdm #BreastCancerNow, it's not the seeing of the tweet that provoked my rant -- as a matter of fact, the announcement of the tweetchat activated my interminable curiosity. As a member of the #BCSM community since day one, I was intrigued by the announcement of a chat about breast cancer with a different hashtag. (For the record, I think a more elegant hashtag would have been a better choice -- #breastchat just doesn't do it for me. Yes, I know, it's easy to grumble and criticize, but this is a rant. Remember? I qualified this upfront.)
— City of Hope (@cityofhope) October 14, 2013
So, I clicked on the link and found this:
|Image from http://www.cityofhope.org/breast-cancer-awareness|
Of course, if anything will help to prevent Breast Cancer, I'm all for it. However, what does all of that prevention really mean and what does it give us? As for me, I ate broccoli as a kid, I've always been healthy, I've gone through a few cycles of gaining and losing some excess weight, I've always been active blah blah blah. And, I still got Breast Cancer three separate times over the course of 19 years.
When I asked one of my cancer specialists about the link between physical fitness and a reduced risk of breast cancer -- telling her that I was at my most fit, with an athlete's resting pulse, before my 2nd diagnosis -- she remarked that perhaps it was my level of fitness that had given me such a long break (11 years) between my first and second diagnoses. So, while it might not have prevented it altogether, it might have bought me some time.
But, is that really prevention?
|Image from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/prevention|
When I think of prevention, call me naive, call me an idealist, I think about something that will actually prevent the thing you want to prevent from ever happening.
I am just concerned that this "prevention" is closer to a bill of goods than I would like. A bill of goods that lulls the general population into a false sense of security. "If I follow these guidelines to the T, it means I won't get Breast Cancer, right?" Please, please, correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't believe we're there, or anywhere close to there, yet.
What I want is some real-live, actionable, guaranteed PREVENTION. Some prevention that will actually PREVENT Breast Cancer. That will actually STOP IT FROM HAPPENING. That will actually STOP IT FROM METASTASIZING.
Until then, I'd prefer a more accurate choice of words. Instead of prevention, let's call it like it is:
Things to do to (hopefully) reduce your risk of getting breast cancer due to some (but definitely not all) of its known associated risk factors that might be susceptible to as of yet un-knowable levels of reduction if you do actually do the things we're telling you to do but which might not be. Or something like that. Results Not Guaranteed. No Refunds.