From the monthly archives:

October 2009


In case you somehow missed it: October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.   Basically, it means you are supposed to spend money to help find a cure. But why do we need to buy fluffy pink socks and eat pink cup cakes to raise money for much needed research? After all, breast cancer is a hideous disease, neither fluffy nor pink. Nobody expects us to buy baseball caps or bake “brownies for bombs” to fund our national defense. We have no “National Security Awareness Month.”

Our national defense and cancer research  are both about saving lives and preventing deaths.  So why then is one activity fully funded with our tax money while the other one needs supplemental funding, money raised from from bake sales, 10K races and our purchases of “pink” products? The problem  I have with marketing and voluntary contributions for the cure is this: You never know how much money is really spent or where the money goes. Could it be that you raise more mony if you write a check straight to your favorite cancer research center and by pass the pink hoopla?

When it comes to various races “for the cure,” I am completely on board. It is a healthy activity, a bonding experience, and millions of dollars go straight to the coffers of those who are helping us in the fight against breast cancer.

When it comes to “buying pink for the cure” I am quite cynical.  Just a glance at the racks of shoddy pink merchandise gives me a queasy feeling of being marginalized, trivialized and commercialized. Many of the items look cheap and useless, more suited to be sold in souvenir shops at air ports, at  carnivals, or at state fairs than as items to raise funds to save the lives of women.

Worst of all, it is near impossible to figure out exactly how much of the profits will be contributed to the cause. Sometimes, a merchant will promise donations of “up to 50,000” or “$100,000.” But what is that in percentage of profits? Is it 0.25 percent, one percent,or ten percent? More? Less?

Some products are out right insulting. Take, for example, Proctor & Gamble’s  pink cookware set designed for “Cooking Up Early Detection.”


If you buy $25 of any number of Proctor  & Gamble  products – could be anything from diapers to Tampax and Cheer detergent to Fixodent – you will get a FREE set of pink cook ware from the “Good Cook’s Hope Line.”

First, NO MENTION of a contribution to cancer research. Second, the strings attached in order to receive this free cook ware are pretty stringent, according to the coupon.

I can only assume that P&G’s  cost of manufacturing and shipping the free 10″  frying pan, the spatula and the measuring cups is off set by valuable data base information for marketing purposes.

On the back of the coupon, P&G assures me that my personal information will be “protected.” Protected from whom? Obviously not P & G, they already have my data. One also hopes that the free pink cook set has been thoroughly tested and that the items will not expose women to more carcinogens as they, full of hope, fluff up their omelets in their new pink Teflon pans.

Sadly, despite all the pink hoopla and all the billions of dollars raised over the years, we are not anywhere close to a “cure.”  Prevention is not even on the radar screen, it seems.

Since so little progress has been made. Let us demand accountability of how cancer funds are spent and on what type of research.

Finally,why is the orange month of October designated as ‘breast cancer awareness month?” Why not the more “feminine” and  “pink” month of May? If we need to stick with fund raisers and the color pink in order to fight breast cancer, let us make Mother’s Day our breast cancer awareness day. Everyone on earth had a mother at some point. What day could be more appropriate to celebrate women and as a call to arms?

Let’s march to take back our breasts from those who exploit them for profit!

Let us declare war on pink trivia !

Let us demand that a woman’s breasts be  deified in more than the sexual sense.

Let us be careful about to whom we issue our checks. If unsure, we can give directly to the major research centers. Five dollars to them is probably a better contribution to the cause than $25 spent on a pair of pink sweat pants that will make us look like Miss Piggy.

Let us properly fund the disease that kills up to fifty thousand of us, and disfigures many more, every year. Maybe we should declare Persephone,  the goddess of  both the underworld  and spring growth, the breast cancer goddess also. Somehow it seems befitting.




My husband and I are both stuck in the glue of our gloom, unable to reach out to each other.

I am restless, crabby, scarred, impatient, and distracted both at home and at work. I cannot concentrate on anything. All I do is obsess about a second surgery. It is not the surgery that scares me, but delaying the treatments has me excessively worried. And the type of treatment.

My husband is down for many reasons: his job, my situation, life in general. This time I do not have the emotional resources or stamina to try to help him break out of his zone. I am too preoccupied and self-obsessed. Also, I am, irritated with him.

He has not even glanced at any of the many brochures, articles, and books on breast cancer lying around the house. It would be good to have his perspective on matters. My husband has a scientific mind. He is the type who will read the instructions for a new Panini grill cover to cover. But the pamphlet “What to Expect from Chemotherapy” sits untouched on his bed stand while he gorges himself on a big fat business book. I am pretty sure he has not spent two minutes Googling breast cancer to learn more. It is as if he thinks: That is her problem. But if he had prostate cancer, I would be all over it. So to speak. I would want to try to figure out what he would be facing. What we would be facing.

Late one afternoon, I finally receive an email from Dr. Guru in response to my question about my lack of clear margin.

“I appreciate your concern. The primary excision was not oriented so I don’t know where they came up with lateral. The additional margins, inferior and medial, were removed after the primary excision was performed. They were the closest margins deemed from intra-operative inspection and no residual tumor was in those specimens. You do not need additional surgery. Sorry for the confusion.” Guru

I  read the mail several times without a clear understanding. Did he take out the tumor then went back in and scraped out some more? Is that what he means by “intra-operative perspective?” But what does “the primary incision not oriented” mean? He’d have to cut the first line somewhere.

I believe Dr. Guru when he says I do not need a second surgery (although I am still annoyed with him.) Had he only sat down with me to explain my pathology report, all this hysteria and worry and anxiety would not have come to pass. He would not have had to endure my blistering emails.

Yet, I am  relieved. Now I can move on to the next treatment. Will it be radiation or do I need chemo first? The mere thought of chemo therapy petrifies me.  Millions have endured it. So why am I such a complete whimp? And when will I find out if I need it? Where is my oncodx test result?


All Other Edges Free of Carcinoma. Meaning?

October 10, 2009

Three weeks after after my lumpectomy, and after some prodding and probing,  my pathology report arrives in the mail. I polish my bifocals. — the better to see you my dear —  and sink down in my favorite reading chair. On page one, I immediately zero in on these worrisome phrases: “All other surgical resection […]

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Does an Apple a Day Have Too Many Carcinogens?

October 3, 2009

Does an apple a day keeps the doctor away, or? I understand all about the benefits of antioxidants interacting with  free radicals. Sort of. But I still want to know how fruits and vegetables are encouraged by health professionals and nutrition experts without any mention of pesticides and carcinogens. It needs to get as much […]

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