Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Awareness Revisited


October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the Pink Ribbons are unfurling once again. A year ago today, I wrote and posted the following  blog. I reread it again...and found that regrettably not much has changed, save for my own personal circumstance. That is, my cancer has advanced. My awareness IQ has been broadened to understand that the proliferation rate of breast cancer is increasing. And, profoundly, despite Susan G. Komen - known as the "largest" funder of breast cancer research, spent a whopping[?] 23.5% of total revenue raised on research for the "cure" in 2007; and an impressive [?] 26.7% in 2008; and a staggering[?] 20.2% in 2009; despite Susan G. Komen's total revenues for 2010 reportedly at $311,855,544.00; and despite spending over $22M in salaries. . . 
The American Cancer Society's most recent estimates for breast cancer in the United States are for 2011:

  • About 230,480 new cases of invasive breast cancer in women
  • About 57,650 new cases of carcinoma in situ (CIS) will be found (CIS is non-invasive and is the earliest form of breast cancer).
  • About 39,520 deaths from breast cancer (women)
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the United States, other than skin cancer. It is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, after lung cancer.

The chance of a woman having invasive breast cancer some time during her life is a little less than 1 in 8. The chance of dying from breast cancer is about 1 in 35. Breast cancer death rates have been going down. [REALLY? not if you look at 2007 figures from the CDC...see below] Right now there are more than 2½ million breast cancer survivors in the United States.

As compared to 2009, when 192,370 new cases of invasive breast cancer were diagnosed among women, as well as an estimated 62,280 additional cases of in situ breast cancer...
. . .

As compared to 2007

  • 202,964 women in the United States were diagnosed with breast cancer.*†
  • 40,598 women in the United States died from breast cancer.*†
*Incidence counts cover approximately 99% of the U.S. population. Death counts cover 100% of the U.S. population. Use caution in comparing incidence and death counts.
†Source: U.S. Cancer Statistics Working Group. United States Cancer Statistics: 1999–2007 Incidence and Mortality Web-based Report. Atlanta (GA): Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and National Cancer Institute; 2010. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/uscs.
Last Revised: 06/20/2011

So again, I continue to ask the question...what does AWARENESS...really mean? I have added a few updates for 2011.

Before I was diagnosed with Invasive Lobular Carcinoma, I was aware of the prevalence of breast cancer. I knew it was a disease that struck mostly post-menopausal women. I was aware that women who have family histories; who smoked; who took oral contraceptives for prolonged periods of time were more likely to be stricken with breast cancer. I was aware of mammograms and lumps and lumpectomies and mastectomies. I was aware of the existence of radiation and chemotherapy treatments.

I was aware of our local news station and its "Buddy Check 12" campaign. I was aware of the Pink Ribbon campaigns. I was aware that every October there was a hub-bub about the Susan B. Komen Race for the Cure. I was so aware that for the 15 years prior to my initial diagnosis in 2009 I ran the Race for the Cure; ironically shaving off up to 8 minutes in my pace time each year. (As it turns out, I guess I wasn't running fast enough!!!!)

But it wasn't until I was blind-sided with a diagnosis of breast cancer in the summer of 2009 that I became aware of the breadth of my ignorance. There was, and still is, so much that I did not know about the disease and its treatment. And, none of the information I received prior to my own personal diagnosis...acquired through my "pink" involvement ever even hinted at the depths of my naiveté.

For example . . .

I did not know there were myriad of causes of breast cancer - the majority being environmental

I did not know that women without genetic predispositions could get breast cancer

I did not know that the risk for women under 50 years of age in developing cancer was and is increasing each year

I did not know that breast cancer specialists have not figured out how to "write a new textbook" for the under 50 crowd

I did not know that women who did not live a high-risk lifestyle could develop breast cancer

I did not know that there were subsets to breast cancer (ductal, lobular, inflammatory and Paget's Disease)

I did not know that as a pre-menopausal woman in good health could develop breast cancer

Metastases in lymph
I did not know about sentinel node biopsies

I did not know about drainage tubes ("d-bombs")

I did not know about tram flaps

I did not know about the severity of long term effects of chemotherapy and radiation

I did not know about Adriamycin (aka "Red Devil")

I did not know about Tamoxifen (or that outside of the U.S. it is listed as a cancer-causing carcinogen)

Metastases in brain
I did not know about Herceptin and Aromatase

I did not know that the medical community treated pre-menopausal women differently than post-menopausal women

I did not know about Oncotype DX and Mamma Print tests for chemo efficacy

I did not know about how a cancer is "staged"

I did not know that mammograms are not a reliable or effective way to early-detect Invasive Lobular Carcinoma

I did not know that a Vitamin D deficiency can be a contributing cause in the development of breast cancer

I did not know how key Vitamin C is in preventing the occurrence and recurrence of breast cancer

I did not know that a buildup estrogen in the body is toxic

I did not know that there is tangible link between iodine deficiency and breast cancer

I did not know about E-cadherin and protein tests and saliva tests and hormonal balancing

Metastases in liver
I did not know that breast cancer research is focused on early stage breast cancer and not advanced stage & metastatic breast cancer

I did not know that women don't die of breast cancer, per se, if only the cancer stayed in the breast

I did not know that women die of breast cancer because because of the multitude of sites where it can metastasize

I did not know that a full radical mastectomy is not a guarantee against breast cancer metastasizing

I did not know about mouth thrushes, or lymphedema, or neuropathy

Metastases in bones
I did not know that an acidic imbalance in our body chemistry gives a fertile ground for cancer cells to proliferate

I did not know that when the CDC and other entities cite statistics on death by breast cancer it does not include those women who died from the complications and side effects of treatment (heart disease, heart failure, pulmonary disease, stroke, uterine cancer, stomach cancer, cervical cancer, etc.

and so it continues to go on, . . . and

I do know now what an insidious and pervasive industry breast cancer has generated in the U.S.

I do know now the difference between a "CURE" and a "PROTOCOL".

I do know now that the med pros are vociferous in the application of their established protocol; that the protocol has not changed much in 50 years; and that despite the protocol women are still dying - at times as a result of the protocol.

I do know now that even though 100s of millions are raised for research, awareness, marketing and merchandising that we are still no closer to a cure.

I do know now that some of the pharmaceutical companies that produce & distribute cancer treatment drugs consciously include cancer-causing carcinogens in the household products and foods they heavily market and consume as a society...check out all the variants of benzene products....they are in every commercial sunscreen and most store-brand and high-end cosmetics.

I do know now that even Susan G. Komen is heavily invested in contributing to the proliferation of breast cancer...check out their requisitioned perfume, PROMISE ME, that contains a well-known hormone disrupter and neurotoxicant.

I do know now that I have to continue to be my own "lay expert" in order to direct the discussion regarding my own health and treatment.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. And, I am a little more aware now than I was in October of 2009 -- and worlds beyond my breast cancer IQ when I too was a Pink Ribbon accomplice. I am also excruciatingly aware that my continued search to be enlightened, educated ... aware ... has nothing to do with the flying of little Pink Ribbons and all its accouterments.


  1. I do know you have educated me through your blog, and I thank you.
    And,... I knew there always was a reason why I hated pink but, I did not know until now.

  2. Great website...and cool article man...thanx for the great post...keep on posting such articles... Resources like the one you mentioned here will be very useful to me! I will post a link to this page on my blog. I am sure my visitors will find that very useful.

  3. Dear F ~ pink is nothing but a washed out version of red. Now RED is a cool color. ~ miss you! ~TC

  4. Chemo Treats,

    Thank you for your comments and encouragment. Please do feel free to post a link, I appreciate the sharing. All the best, TC