One More Thing!

Okay, just one more commentary on this ad campaign and I will move on.

When I found out that I had breast cancer, the world-class surgeon to whom I was referred downplayed its seriousness.  When I look back, it has to be one of the single oddest moment of the surreal life I began to lead in July 2012.  He told me that if I were to have cancer, then breast cancer was the one to have.

I didn’t know any better at the time.  I repeated it to my family and friends.  I’ll be okay.  This is the easy cancer.  Repeating it even made me feel better.  And then quite suddenly it wasn’t easy anymore.

I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer about three weeks into my initial diagnosis of invasive ductal carcinoma.  As I broadened my knowledge base and connected with organizations and individuals, I learned that breast cancer was never the easy cancer.  I could have any combination of surgery and medication and still face metastatic breast cancer at some point in the future.  Or not.  What an awful thing this really was.  My surgeon was talking out of his ass.  He had assumed a paternal role and was just patronizing me.  One of the reasons I walked away from that practice.

Truth is, metastatic cancer is just as hard as any other kind of breast cancer, it’s just that its stakes are higher.  Medications work and I don’t know for how long.  Then one of them stops working and I go on another.  It’s working, but making living impossible.  So I try another and hope that it works.  I go from scan to scan hoping the latest ache doesn’t show up as a hot spot.  And now I always walk with a cane.  There isn’t a choice.  Sometimes I think I don’t need it and, for awhile, I don’t.  And then things get so that I do. And sometimes I pretend I don’t really need the narcotics I take on schedule, but I always do.  I’ve stopped trying on both accounts.

And one thing we all face–regardless of the cancer any one of us might have–are the goodbyes.  All of the goodbyes.  The friends that we make and grow to love suddenly become quiet.  Blogs aren’t updated.  Twitter feeds go silent.  Good wishes litter static Facebook pages like a carpet of leaves.

CaptureLike many of you, I was Twitter buddies with Jada.  When I saw that she was entering hospice we sent private messages back and forth.  Nothing more could be done and she told me that she had made peace with that.  She always asked me how I was doing, wished that I was pain free, and wanted me to have a good life.  I would tell her that she was loved and how much I appreciated her.  I had a rough couple of days and hadn’t checked Twitter, but as soon as I was able I sent her a message on January 29.  I told her she was loved and that the weather in NYC was colder than it had been for years.  And then I read on AnneMarie’s blog that she was gone.  I had missed her last tweet on January 27: “Y se me va la vida….and my life goes away….“.   She died on January 28.  Thirty four years old.

It was on the heels of this young woman’s senseless death from metastatic breast cancer that Pancreatic Cancer Action UK launched its advertising campaign.  “Hard hitting” they called it, as if to lend credibility to the central message that having breast or testicular cancer was somehow “better” than pancreatic cancer.  The organization’s founder staunchly defends the campaign because when she was diagnosed she wished she could have had breast cancer.  The good cancer.  The one with all of the wonderful outcomes. The one with all of the money.  The one that the public loves and will walk miles for.  The one that is pink. The one that is pretty.

The one that kills.  Every 74 seconds someone in the world dies from metastatic breast cancer.  In starker terms? One thousand one hundred sixty seven individuals every day die of breast cancer.

1,167.  Dead.  Every.  Day.

Five days after PC Action’s “hard hitting” campaign shit across the television sets and public spaces of the UK and the internet, we know no more today than we did before about pancreatic cancer.   And the entire episode has left me feeling hollow inside.  All I know is that it was a lousy move; what a short-sighted and self-indulgent campaign this was.  It has added nothing to the basic knowledge set about pancreatic cancer’s signs and symptoms, just a pool of very unfortunate individuals wishing they had good cancers.

I can’t make sense of any of it.  Our friends die every day and we have to put up with this?

This entry was posted in Breast Cancer PSAs, Breastploitation, Social Commentary, Stage IV Musings and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

40 Responses to One More Thing!

  1. I’m still catching up on my favorites … this was POINT ON and beautifully written, as always.
    XOXO Nicole

  2. L. D. Sword says:

    Well said. My full time job is Conflict Management. It saddens me that one group with heartfelt basic needs has pitted itself against another group with heartfelt basic needs. We are the same in our humanity more than we are different in our diseases.

  3. I’m late to this here (I guess there’s a previous post I should read)….but I STRONGLY and VERY MUCH REMEMBER that when I got diagnosed with thyroid cancer (way before Cowden’s Syndrome) I was told by many a doctor that THAT (Thyroid cancer) is the “best” cancer to have. SHAKING MY HEAD!

  4. Debbie says:

    Thank you for your words and your truth. It is sickening to compare cancers and suggest that some of us won the lottery and should be grateful for it.

  5. Catherine says:

    It is all too true, and it is breaking my heart.

  6. As always, any “one more thing” you write cuts through the bullshit and speaks straight to the heart. xo

  7. gspeers says:

    I totally agree! Well said. I’m sorry for your losses… It is an ongoing part of coping with mets bc, learning to accept losses… Of people we meet along the way, of our own capabilities to live full and independent lives. Best to you. Gail (10 yrs mets bc survivor)

  8. dear Scorchy,

    your “one more thing” is certainly resonating – such insightful comments. i can’t even imagine what it felt like for you when you were blindsided by the diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer only 3 weeks after the initial diagnosis of IDC. if only people realized that with BC, it only takes one (even microscopic) event to change the entire course of one’s life – and for one’s loved ones. so glad you got away from that ass-hat doctor.

    i am so sorry for the loss of your dear friend, Jada. i will be sending my best thoughts for comforting you and for her family. i hope they never have to see that PCA shit.

    much love and light to you, Scorchy,

    Karen xoxo

    • Scorchy says:

      And to you, Karen. I was reading about it again this morning from a new article posted in the Daily Mail from Ali Stunt defending the campaign and I still don’t get it. It’s just awful. xoxoxo

  9. The last word on an epic FAIL and I don’t really care what anyone says. Shock value? Isn’t it shocking and awful enough to watch those around us suffering and dying.

    Love you, Scorch….

    xoxox

  10. Susan says:

    You absolutely said this one perfectly Scorchy. If my chemobrain math is right from the WHO data statistics I found there are 22 deaths a day in the UK from pancreatic cancer and 32 deaths a day from breast cancer in the UK. I am even more upset that they won’t get rid of the stupid campaign and learn from their mistake. Thanks Scorchy! xoxo – Susan

    • Scorchy says:

      I think we should be careful not to set up these cancers in competition with one another. For me it’s not what cancer has more fatalities attached to it per year, but that this campaign adopted cancer envy as a marketing tool. AND that the idea of breast cancer as the “good cancer” permeates our societies. Is really is crazy. I sure hope they learn from their mistakes as well. xoxo

  11. Audrey says:

    Well said! I too still feel angry about this campaign. Having worked in the charity sector it somehow makes me angrier…I know the game and it diminishes us all. They should know better! My warm wishes to you. Audrey

  12. I hear you loud and clear Scorchy. Re-reading a NY Times article about the Pinkafying of breast cancer from last year, I saw myself again. It’s says: “DCIS ..an easily treatable disease with a nearly 100% 10 year survival rate. !2 years ago my docs acted so blase about my DCIS. More NYT: “There is only a 5% chance of Invasive Cancer developing over 5 years” When it came back as Invasive Ductal Carcinoma last year with HER-2 positive I had a bi-lateral mastectomy, chemo, and continue with my full year of Herceptin. The oncologists are now saying “you have a 90% chance of non-recurrence.”. Do they seriously think I am going to believe that when EVERY time I lose their numbers game? Not one of them has had a serious discussion with me about the possibility of it coming back (pretty sure it will!) or my possibly dying of its metastatic invasion. Breast cancer is BLACK not pink.

  13. Christina Blust, who I see has commented here, commented to me last week that maybe some breast cancer patients wish they had breast cancer, the kind you see on TV, that is. I thought, yeah, maybe I do wish that. Wouldn’t it be great if cancer, if life, were as simple as the packaged messages sold on TV. But life is more complex, at least in my view.
    This is a problem created first by the media, and then this campaign bought into that, and it makes me sad. The founder said she knew some might find the ad belittling, but they ran it anyway, which speaks volumes. While I understand, as I’ve written about, that other cancer patients are sick of Pink, the fact this org bought into the myth, the package sold to a willingly ignorant audience, and exploited the package, does not reflect well on them.

  14. bethgainer says:

    Perfectly said. The losses are unbearable. Love to you xoxo

  15. Christina Blust says:

    Yep! What this ad accidentally did (instead of really educating us about pancreatic cancer or encouraging donations) is highlight the fact that NOBODY, not even other cancer charities and other cancer patients, understands what metastatic breast cancer is and does.

  16. The Accidental Amazon says:

    Bloody hell…
    Love you, Scorchy.

  17. The insanity of it all defied definition.

    We keep on, keeping on. Thanks for this,

    Love,
    Jody

    #ResearchSavesLife not idiotic campaigns.

  18. Brinda Naidu says:

    I’m sharing this, please. Thank you for a wonderfully-written piece.

  19. Knot Telling says:

    As always, you nailed it.

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