Jill, formerly Twisty, of I Blame The Patriarchy, herself a double-mastectomy survivor, reflects on an intrinsic bias towards treatment over prevention for many types of illness — breast cancer in her case.
Specifically Jill was responding to the lack of online information, particularly photographic information, about mastectomy and aftercare compared to, say, enough images of pink ribbons and pink soda-bottle packaging to repave Los Angeles.
As Samantha King writes in the enlightening Pink Ribbons, Inc.:
[Women] are discouraged from questioning the underlying structures and guiding assumptions of the cancer-industrial complex. The culture of breast cancer survivorship does not, in other words, embrace patient-empowerment as a way to mobilize critical engagement with biomedical research, anger at governmental inactionk or resistance to social discrimination and inequality, even if its history is bound up with attempts to do just this.”
People can’t find out how really fucking gross treatment is, because if they did they might start thinking, hey, maybe preventing breast cancer — as opposed to waiting for women to get sick and then slamming them with a series of debilitating, barbaric procedures — is a good idea.
She said it here.
One needn’t agree that there’s a purposeful conspiracy to get the point that there’s not as much emphasis placed on finding ways to prevent common illnesses like breast cancer as there is for “the cure” after they’re diagnosed. Nor does one need to think the emphasis on treatment boils down to profit motive to agree more emphasis could be put on prevention.
Part of the problem, of course, at least in America, is that we’re great optimists and (Katrina notwithstanding) pretty good at responding to immediate catastrophe. And so we have a hard time in general with anticipation: “you won’t get cancer if you…” when you don’t have it (yet) is just way harder to gear up for compared to how we’re able to marshall ourselves in the face of “you have cancer…” (What’s that line “nothing so concentrates the mind as the prospect of being hanged in the morning?)
But I digress. I just want to echo Jill’s point that when one is facing a crisis like prospective surgery and chemotherapy (of any sort) it would be awfully nice if there was as much information available about what to expect before and during the process as well as there is for after.
Oh, one last thing: this, I think, is one of those areas where blogging really shines. It’s sometimes heartwrenching to read someone’s personal experience with surgery, recovery, chemo, remission, reoccurrence. But it’s very good to know. Just as its good to know what to expect before our first kiss, our first orgasm, our first time driving, our first child, or job, and so on, it’s good to know what to expect when we fall ill. Again, that’s where people who blog have shined.