Monday, September 30, 2013

Sneakers with pink ribbons, and frustrations

Walking the track this morning at the JCC (I'm trying), I noticed that the woman in front of me was wearing sneakers with tiny little pink ribbons imprinted on them. Those little pink ribbons reminded me that tomorrow is October 1st, the first day of what we in the breast cancer community refer to as "Pinktober" or "national breast cancer industry month," or as most people know it, "breast cancer awareness month."

I was diagnosed with breast cancer just under five years ago. I was lucky: my cancer was localized and hasn't spread, and I have a very good chance of living a long life. Some women I know aren't so lucky. Their cancers had already started to spread, or metastasize, when their breast cancer was discovered, or their cancer metastasized soon after they were diagnosed, or even much later, and it's metastasis that will kill you, not the tumor itself.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

In the five years since my diagnosis, I've been through treatment, complications from treatment, recovery from the complications of treatment, some relatively good years with only hot flashes, and now...well, I'm still here. But I'm still frustrated.

Still frustrated with a country in which football players wear pink for "awareness," but in which we cannot figure out what is causing this epidemic of breast (and other) cancers.

Still frustrated that the focus is on mammograms and early detection, and millions of women are discovered to have early cancers and are treated, yet the women whose cancers have already spread still exist in the same numbers as 40 years ago, and their rates of death are not decreasing (more on this in a later post).

Still frustrated that breast cancer awareness is seen as a goal. Who is not aware of breast cancer?

Still frustrated by the numbers of women that I know are diagnosed with breast cancer. It's a growth industry.

Still frustrated that the anxiety of waiting for test results related to breast cancer isn't regarded as harmful. It's been proven to be quite harmful (more on this in a later post). 

Still frustrated that hospitals are building beautiful new cancer centers to meet the increasing needs of patients, more and more of whom are getting cancer... Why not prevent cancer instead?

So I've decided to blog each day in October about something related to breast cancer. About my own experiences. About research I find interesting. And some other stuff. Join me?