Monday, November 18, 2013

There's no good cancer

I called into a talk back radio show today. Couldn't help myself. Haven't ever been backward in coming forward and not going to start now.

The topic was related to the disproportionate attention (and resources) that Breast Cancer gets relative to other cancers and the community perception that it is the "biggest" cancer for women.

As I was waiting on hold to make my point I listened to the various callers and a very articulate man from the Australian Cancer Council who dispelled some "myths" (for example lung cancer is actually the biggest "killer" of women). 

A lady called in and referred to breast cancer as the "sexy" cancer. The announcer (who I love) asked her in what sense she meant sexy. Quite rightly she talked about the fact that from a marketers perspective boobs are sexy.

I was really surprised by the emotion that the use of the word sexy stirred in me. I was almost teary contemplating the dichotomy of sexiness and the realities of breast cancer. The two should never be used in the same sentence and I felt compelled to make that point strongly.

When I did get to speak (which in itself was an honour as I can imagine there were a huge number of calls on the "board") I managed to make the following points quite succinctly (for me a waffler from way back):

1. All cancers and in fact all diseases that affect families the way we have been affected suck.
2. It would be fantastic if all the other forms of cancer could be elevated to the degree of public awareness, support, charitable contribution and therefore research and services that Breast Cancer has because then everyone who gets this terrible diagnosis would benefit equally.

Then I made my final point. The one where I said that using sexy in the same sentence as Breast Cancer makes me want to cry. Sexy is the last thing I feel and the Pink October marketing of perfect boobs when that is far from what women are left with post-breast cancer treatment is very distressing to me.

The truth of it is that my boob is a mangled mess and I try not to look at it. I certainly don't touch it and the fact that Saint Mike and I jokingly refer to this as our "year without sex" isn't just due to chemo nausea. 

My hormones have packed up their wagon and decamped. I am experiencing th joys (plural) of the hot flush multiple times a day. If I'm not feeling like puking I'm a cranky cow likely to bite my husbands head off! His saintly status is not just being enhanced by his patience with the treatment but also with the repurcussions it's had for our interactions.

I've always had a fairly amiable relationship with my boobs. Now that they're on a countdown to oblivion I feel like it's only a matter of time before I give this tangible loss the air time it deserves. But I can't focus on it now. Out with the old and in the new will happen in late Feb/early March but in the meantime I've got to focus on what's immediately in front of me and unfortunately that's a bucket! 

Sorry if this is a tad depressing. Felt like putting on the record these particular emotions. One day my girls will read this blog and I want them to get a nuanced perspective:) 


  1. I'm glad you got on the talk show and said your piece. I find the whole "save the ta-tas" thing bizarre. We don't see any "save the boner" prostate cancer campaigns. I think breast cancer gets a lot of publicity because of the additional trauma of losing something so prominent. I hope your mojo comes back before menopause kicks in and we're all cranky cows!!

  2. I have been thinking of you of late.. I would love to catch up when you have time and are feeling up to it.. We gave a portion of our sales to the Mc Grath Foundation in October and I too thought how bad it was that it does not happen throughout the year. My Mum had Breast Cancer s I have personal reason to support that but I agree awareness and fund raising should be for Cancer and any Cancer

  3. Oh my gosh! I haven't been over to visit for a while and I"m just so shocked. Cancer sux and sux and sux, my lovely. YOu know I'm here if you need me. I know that sounds weird as I haven't even popped over to your blog for a million, but it's absolutely true. I'll be back later tonight to read some more of your posts to catch up properly. x


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