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Couldn't Have Said It Better....
[Misc] Flowers
I was looking at the newspaper and it has a column called "Annie's Mailbox" (which is written by two former Anne Landers editors) and came across a letter that really clicked with me. You can find the entire letter here (the second one), but the general summary is that a woman was approached by a breast cancer fundraiser who opened with "As a woman, we know you were interested in finding a cure for breast cancer." The woman responded "My interest now is in finding a cure for glioblastoma multiforme, a deadly type of brain cancer, which my husband has and where my charitable contributions are going." The fundraiser responded, "I am so sorry about your husband, but as a woman don't you feel obligated to support breast cancer research?"

I think I probably would have slapped her at that point. Overall, this is a problem I see with breast cancer issues and funding. It's a serious disease and is does have a high fatality rate, but it seems like it's getting a disproportional amount of funding and attention. Moreover, I've heard some stories about how breast cancer groups are a bit exclusionary. One letter in Self was from a young woman with non Hodgkins lymphoma who could only find a breast cancer support group in her area and was told when she tried to join that, despite the fact that she was going through a lot of the same issues they were with chemo and other treatments, that she just didn't understand what they were dealing with.

What really concerns me is that I worry that breast cancer awareness and research are being promoted at the expense of other diseases. Yes, breast cancer affects mainly women (it does affect some men, also), but it's not the only cancer that affects women. It's also not the deadliest (I believe that honor goes to lung cancer). I realize that a lot of breast cancer research can be applied to other cancers, but it's still not good enough. What good is it to cure breast cancer if we could spread the resources out to drastically increase the survival rates of two cancers? Or five? Or ten?

Also, I'm starting to think that some companies could care less about breast cancer and instead use it as a marketing opportunity. Go into a store in October in the U.S. and probably half the items will have a pink breast cancer variation.

I'm not arguing against breast cancer funding. I support the rights of individuals and companies to raise and spend money as they see fit. However, I am rejecting the idea that because I happen to have breasts, breast cancer should be my top priority and that my gender should trump any form of rational thought. I also have a brain, a heart, lungs, a pancreas, a liver, a colon, skin, blood, and plenty of other body parts that could be affected by cancer or other diseases. I'd like to think that any money I donate to cancer research will be distributed accordingly. I'm pretty sure if I'm dying of pancreatic cancer, I'll take little comfort in hearing that they've finally found a cure for breast cancer.

(And before anyone plays the "You'd feel differently if someone you love were affected," two of my favorite aunts had breast cancer and survived. My maternal grandmother died of bone cancer in her 40's, leaving several young children. My paternal grandmother and a paternal uncle died of pancreatic cancer. My father and another uncle had melanomas. My dad's fine, but my uncle has fought with relapses for fifteen years. My mother had a cancerous brain tumor when I was eleven. And recently my old piano teacher died of non Hodgkins lymphoma. So, maybe if I'd only had a family member with breast cancer, I'd feel differently. But with that list? No. I want to see cancer fund raising as diverse as possible.)

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I've honestly gotten to the point where I won't contribute to breast cancer research until the funding for other types of research.

Personally, I see the focus on breast cancer as feminist way to state that this one issue is more important than any other issue.

I actually was approached recently as well. But I'm a bastard and don't donate to anything but the Salvation Army.>->

A certain person tried to guilt me over it... so I text Steph "Am I a bad person for not donating to breast cancer awareness? What would you do?"

And now, this might be a bit offensive, but, Steph can be very cold.:p

"No, I think people are plenty aware of it."

But yeah. ^^;

I think a wide variety of support is better. My boobs are sacred, but so are everyone else's bits and pieces.:)

Yeah, my sister's always complaining about that too. Her mom died of a different form of cancer, and it always really frustrates her to see all the attention paid to breast cancer to the exclusion of everything else.

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