Is Pinktober just a ‘cruel illusion’?

photo by Kerry Sherck
photo by Kerry Sherck

Now that Breast Cancer Month is officially over, it is a good time to reflect on lessons learned. We were interested to read this blog which is an excerpt from the Cancer Chronicles by George Johnson.

When the woman he loved was diagnosed with a metastatic cancer, science writer George Johnson was determined to learn everything he could about the disease and the people who dedicate their lives to understanding and combating it. What he discovered is a revolution under way—an explosion of new ideas about what cancer really is and where it comes from.

In his blog, he says this:

With another Breast Cancer Awareness Month almost past, more money has been raised for medical research. But the hype, however well intended, comes at a price — the spreading of the cruel illusion that by next Pinktober or the next or the next, scientists will have found The Cure.

As I’ve written before, there is no such thing. Cancer is a consequence of entropy, “the legacy of being multicellular creatures in an imperfect world.” It is an unfortunate tradeoff of evolution, and against it there can be, at most, incremental progress. As the sloganeers demonize the inevitable,  scientists are concentrating on smaller battles, ones they might actually win. They are seeking ways to make screening  work more effectively — to identify tumors before they become fatally metastatic, but without falling into the trap of overdiagnosis. That can lead to disfiguring surgery, chemical poisons, and radiation — all to treat harmless “Stage 0″ growths that would have been better left alone.

 What do you think of ‘Pinktober’? What is your take on awareness campaigns?

We’d love to hear from you.

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3 thoughts on “Is Pinktober just a ‘cruel illusion’?

  1. Hi
    As a breast cancer survivor,i feel awareness should be done throughout the year, but since October is the traditional awareness month a lot has been done. still looking forward to a day when the cure will be discovered.
    thank you for this blog

  2. I am currently treading the breast cancer path. I was diagnosed at the end of July this year. I have been through 4 cycles of Herceptin, Carboplatin and Taxotere. I had a right sided mastectomy with DIEP flap reconstruction on 22 of Novemebr. My Heceptin treatment will carry on for another 11-13 cycles as well as aromatase inhibitors for 5 years. So far all the results from biopsy and other tests have come back negative for cancer cells. I am well aware that being Herceptin positive, my cancer can come back at any time. However I am “Pinked” out. It has become an in my face reminder every day of my condition. I am thankful that my treatment appears to be so successful at present. I wonder how those woman who are battling to reach the goal of a successful treatment must feel seeing pink everywhere. I have nothing against awareness. Even if it makes 1 woman go for checkups whe she wouldn’t hve ordinarily, its done its job. I myself do not want to wear anything pink, or any longer identify myself as a BC survivor/etc. I want to start my new life, and I do not want pity. I want to go on as normally as is possible with the ever present spectre of cancer following my every step. That spectre just has to be behind me and not block my progress. Of course I’ll offer advice if asked but every breast cancer is so unique to each individual that it is unlikely that one BC woman will have the same treatment protocol or out come. We can only support each other emotionally and in practical day to day coping mechanisms. Have good attitutde, faith and hope and supportive people around you. Thats what will help the most.

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