While I was Out...
The New York Times had a good mid-October report on the pinking of America. Basically, it was about the rise of the upbeat Komen for the Cure... and its critics. Cancer Bitch has been a critic of Komen for being so large and media-glitzy but since 2008 it's been putting its funds into prevention and cure. Imagine that! Some good quotes:
The pink ribbons have become a distraction.--Karuna Jaggar, executive director, Breast Cancer Action
On Komen ads: It changes the focus of what we should be looking at to some advertising, marketing slogan. --Dr. Otis W. Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society.
-We could prevent countless deaths if everyone got the same level of care as upper-class white women in Boston or New York.” --Dr. Eric P. Winer, director of the breast cancer program at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston and chief scientific adviser for Komen.
And in today's (Tuesday's) Times*, there's a first-person piece by a doctor-professor who had the same stage cancer I did, 2A. Every year, she says, she checks a certain new edition of a medical textbook and consults its survival tables. There it is: Table 17-6. Average Survival of Patients With Breast Cancer by Stage.
It hasn’t changed a bit. Patients with breast cancer like mine, Stage IIA, still have a five-year survival rate of 70 percent (not great, but O.K.) and a 10-year rate of 50 percent (not good at all).
Her own doctor told her that her chances are much better than that, that the stats include those with "nasty" cancers. And I'm wondering why Feld had a lumpectomy and radiation and I had mastectomy and chemo. (Everyone's cancer is different. Of course. But I think the diff is that I had two tumors and there was no way to cut them out with clear margins and save the breast.)
We want to know. We want to know how much time we have. Which reminds me of one of the stories in Miriam Engelberg's memoir in comics, Cancer Made Me a Shallower Person. One of the things people say to someone with cancer, she wrote, is: After all, any of us could get hit by a bus tomorrow! She was, she recounts, actually hit by a bus once. Before she had cancer. She was OK. Without a scratch. I'm glad, of course, that I didn't die 15 years ago, thought it would have saved a lot of emotional anguish and nausea.
So she survived being hit by a bus. Then got breast cancer and died.
*Cancer is like catnip for the Times. Or, to put it this way: Cancer is to the Times as World War II is to the New York Review of Books.