It’s no wonder that we’ve become a nation obsessed with fighting a disease that affects our mothers, wives, sisters and friends. But now that we’ve put a pink ribbon on everything from hand lotion to breakfast foods, we must confront the real consequences of our increased “awareness”. Peggy Orenstein, who was twice diagnosed with breast cancer, writes that mammograms, while reducing by a small percentage the number of women diagnosed with late-stage cancer, are “far more likely to result in overdiagnosis and unnecessary treatment, including surgery, weeks of radiation and potentially toxic drugs.“
What’s the Big Idea?
As Orenstein says, “Awareness has become obliviousness.” And that obliviousness has resulted in a glut of neatly repeated, taken-at-face-value ideas that early detection equals survivorship, and a whole lot of women voluntarily losing their breasts. Orenstein continues, “We need to make sure that our focus and our pressure is bought to bear to where it needs to be. I can’t afford to have people squandering so much time and energy and money in the name of breast cancer.” Unforunately, a spate of sloganeering hasn’t yet translated into deeper public understanding.