Monday Motivation

"It seems to me that any full grown, mature adult would have a desire to be responsible, to help where he can in a world that needs so very much, that threatens us so very much."

              ~Norman Lear

Promise Me: How a Sister's Love Launched the Global Movement to End Breast Cancer


ZZ said...

We are not going to "end" breast cancer or any other type of cancer. After 25 years of research mortality rates have not changed one iota. It's here to stay along with death and taxes.

Kristen Sager Cincotta said...

With all due respect, I seriously beg to differ. I work in biomedical science and the advances that have been made are immense, if not easily appreciated in terms of mortality rates.

With better screening techniques for almost all major types of cancer (and more public awareness about the need for screening), more people are actually being diagnosed with the disease now then ever before. Previously, patients would carry around massive cancerous growths without knowing until it was far too late. Often, fatal cancerous lesions wouldn't be found until after death. So the pool of patients with cancer in the first place is increasing. As such, the number of people who have cancer has a known cause of death may not be changing even if an individual's personal chance of dying has gone down.

Moreover, I am a person who refuses to only look at our progress against cancer in terms of life or death. Yes, we want less people to die from cancer. But if the advances that we have made in cancer treatments will give my mom an extra five years, ten years, 25 years... then to me, that is a massive victory. In the past, a diagnosis of breast cancer, no matter how early/mild, meant that the patient was treated with a full mastectomy. Now, because we have more refined screening and treatments, those same patients often undergo very minimally invasive/life-disrupting treatments. I consider that a massive victory as well, even though that won't change the ultimate mortality rate either.

This is such a complicated area and to boil it down to black and white as you have is to close your eyes and your mind to the immense possibilities for change and advancement that truly are out there.

~ Kristen

ZZ said...

By all means, early diagnosis allows a person to be defined as a "cancer patient" for a longer interval before eventual death. This gives the appearance of a longer "survival time" in the statistics for those who happen to be diagnosed early. But it's a mirage.

The only cure for cancer is aging. Our cells are pre-programmed to divide only a finite number of times. While this inhibits the runaway cell replication in cancer, it also limits our life span. Cancer and aging are two inevitable sides of the same coin and are part of the human condition.

Regarding the extra five years for mom, why is dying at 95 so much better than dying at 90? 75 vs 70? What is the lower limit of age when the difference becomes significant, such that the higher number is "miraculous" and the lower number is "tragic"?

Your last paragraph is revealing. After substantially admitting that progress is a mirage, you insist on further research merely because "change is always good".

The constant demand for "advancement" and refusal to recognize that some things are beyond control is a symptom of the deep discomfort about death in our society, brought on by our shallow and materialistic attitudes.

Both my parents died of cancer prior to retirement. My two families both have a long history of developing it soon after childbearing years, so my number will probably be up at some point. I accept that as the hand I was dealt, like a mature, rational human.

Maureen Cawley said...

Philadelphia's 3-day kicked off yesterday. My friend and I walked a few years ago, and I wrote about it http://maureencawley.com/2007/10/12/fighting-breast-cancer-one-day-at-a-time/. I wish so much we could be there again this year to show our support. It is such an important undertaking!