(Allman Brothers reference)
I have been reading lately about the debate regarding funding for breast cancer research. Some of you may know that it is not a new issue, even if the media is just now finding it.
They can be slow that way. The media, the press, the newspapers, especially, used to be pro-active. Now, they all, all of the media, seem to be reactive, and they seem to react to whatever the latest fad is.
They wonder, the newspapers, in particular, but also radio and mainstream television, why they are losing customers, and it is largely because they no longer give us the news but regurgitate it after filtering it.
But that is a digression of enormous proportions.
This debate over breast cancer research funding is interesting to me, and should be to you, regardless of your particular cancer(s), even if it is breast cancer.
Understand that my mom had breast cancer, and that it ultimately, many years later, went to her brain and was her demise; that my sister had breast cancer and chose, ultimately, to have her other removed and to have them rebuilt, eventually, into something she thought would make a difference.
I am not speaking, in other words, as an anti-BC advocate.
In fact, some of the people speaking against all of the funding for BC research happen to be breast cancer survivors and even officers of companies that seek BC funds.
But I am getting beyond myself, as usual.
There have been people coming into the CSN Chat room, in the past, not so much now, and in the discussion boards, too, who complain that BC gets too much money. I have always advised that this is not the case. I have advised (for what that is worth) that money thrown at any cancer is good for all cancer. I have even stipulated that AIDS research is great for cancer research.
I still believe these things, but the recent reading has me wondering a bit.
They say, (the ghostly “they”) that the reason BC gets so much funding is because it is a cancer from which people survive in greater numbers. They say they can walk, and they can talk.
It is also, “they” say, a sexy disease. Not because it is the breast(s) but because it is a disease affiliated with a part of a woman’s anatomy that all can identify with, and that men can, in particularly, associate with.
Lung cancer is not sexy. Having half of your tongue replaced is not sexy. It is hard to excite someone with notions of the surgery of your colon. Leukemia is a real crowd-pleaser. NHL brings out all of the hockey jokes (I know, because I’ve spewed them).
Melanoma, while known to most people who hang out on the beaches around here, is pretty much insignificant in their lives. Brain cancer is too frightening even to contemplate. So I pancreatic cancer. And prostate cancer is just for old men who have been sitting around too long.
Breast cancer, though, that happens to movie stars, to actresses, to singers and to the beautiful woman who lives just down the street. It even happens to our moms. To our sisters. To our aunts. (And, rarely, to our uncles.)
That is how it looks from the outside looking in.
The fact is, if you have breast cancer, your chances of survival are better than they have ever been. I salute those who have used the money provided to them for research and treatment in order to make this so. My mom ultimately died of breast cancer…20 years after the original diagnosis, and not from an attack in her breast, the remaining one, but in her brain. Metastasis is a crime.
But…if you are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, your chances of living one year are about 4%. That’s according to something I read, so do not hold me to it. But we all know that some cancers are pretty rough. If you have leukemia, for example, you may live a long and happy life, but you may have to live with some complications for the duration. Same with melanoma. I have a friend who is pretty much on a constant chemo plan. She might not always be on the chemo, but she knows that when she is not, she is recuperating and preparing for the next round.
Lung cancer. Same thing. If you are fortunate, they cut it out and say you are cancer-free (that is what they said to me. Do I believe them?). If you are not, you have years (if you are lucky) and years (if you are even luckier) to deal with it and to deal with the operations and the chemotherapy and other treatments.
Colorectal. Whew. There is a sexy one! It is probably the most popular of all of the cancers, save breast cancer, and yet it gets no respect. 🙂 If cancer is a fad (and I think it is) the colorectal people must be the coolest people on the block!
But they do not get the funding that breast cancer does.
I did not have a problem with this. I didn’t. I figured that all of the research done for any cancer would be good for all cancers. But the most recent news is sort of disturbing in that regard.
Some BC folks, and I am talking about fund managers, for instance, state unequivocally that they can’t even use all of the money they get. People who study this, researchers from Dartmouth and other supposedly smart places, say, yes, the money is not being allocated intelligently.
That brings me back to the idea that funding for any cancer is funding for all.
I do not think I believe that any more. Yes, I am hedging my bets, but I am not sure I believe that any more.
I have also said for some time that I did not think that anyone would find a common cure for all cancers. They are so different, after all.
But, you know, I think that they are hitting on something really big with their efforts in gene manipulation. Personal cures, if you will. I do not know how much of the money from BC funding is going into that. I do not.
I am beginning to think that there should be a cancer funding pool. I really have no idea why breast cancer should be more important than NHL, for example. And I am really starting to believe that a cure is coming (I do not need one at the moment, as far as I know, so this is not just a cry in the night), one that will serve all cancer survivors, if the money is directed properly, and if the focus of researchers and scientists and doctors is focused correctly.
No evil intent here. I am simply beginning to understand the plaints of those whose illnesses are under-funded, undervalued.
Gender, age, race, none of them should be a factor.
Let’s get it done, and let’s get it done together.
I am soccerfreaks and I support this message.