October 31, 2007

October 19, 2007

Popular culture and a breast cancer death

I read the comics every day and one of the strips I follow is called Funky Winkerbean. There's been a recurrent theme about a character with breast cancer and this month she died.

In 1999, Lisa Moore, one of Funky’s friends and a main character, discovered she had breast cancer. Batiuk, unsure about dealing with such a serious subject on the funny pages, decided to go ahead with the story line. He approached the topic with the idea that mixing humor with serious and real themes heightens the reader’s interest. Lisa and husband Les faced the same physical, psychological, and social issues as anyone else dealing with the disease.

After a mastectomy and chemotherapy, Lisa was cancer free. She finished her law degree, opened a practice, and had a baby daughter, Summer. Then, in the spring of 2006, the cancer returned and metastasized. Lisa’s Story: The Other Shoe is a collection of both the 1999 comic strips on Lisa’s initial battle with cancer and the current series examining her struggle with the disease and its outcome. Additionally, it contains resource material on breast cancer, including early detection, information sources, support systems, and health care.

Artist Tom Batiuk spent several years as a middle school art teacher before creating the comic strip Funky Winkerbean in 1972. Originally a “gag-a-day” comic strip that portrayed life in high school, Funky has evolved into a mature series of real-life stories examining such social issues as teen dating abuse, teen pregnancy, teen suicide, violence in schools, the war in the Middle East, alcoholism, divorce, and cancer.

Tom Batiuk is a graduate of Kent State University. His Funky Winkerbean and Crankshaft comic strips are carried in over 700 newspapers throughout the U.S. In 2006, he was honored by the American Cancer Society and presented its Cancer Care Hall of Fame Award for his sympathetic work in highlighting the experiences of those with cancer.

Looking for a new cancer charity? Check out Lisa's Legacy Fund for Cancer Research and Education.

October 18, 2007

Boycotting October


I wore my "Boycott October" button the other day, a gift from my friend Jeanne, the Assertive Cancer Patient. Several people asked me about it. "What's wrong with buying pink merchandise?" they asked. "Doesn't that support breast cancer awareness?" To which I replied, only if you know how much money is going to the cause and whether or not there is a ceiling on the amount of money raised.

Why can't Yoplait yogurt just give half a million dollars every year to the Komen Foundation? Why do we have to lick the lids clean, save them, and mail them in?

Really, I'd prefer if people made a donation to an organiztion that supports women with breast cancer or research into a cure rather than buy more pink ribbon crap.

October 12, 2007

Another cancer dream

Early this morning I dreamed a new cancer dream. I'm in a car, and we're going backwards (in reverse) very quickly. I'm not driving, but I'm sitting in the front passenger seat. I say to the driver (with increasing agitation), "Really, you're driving too fast. I wish you'd slow down. This is my car, and I think you're going too fast." Then I woke up.

To me this is clearly a cancer dream. The car is me, and because I feel out of control, I'm sitting in the passenger seat. Cancer is driving, recklessly and fast.

I woke up very stressed and tense, clenching my jaw. And there's nothing even going wrong just now!

October 09, 2007

Happy birthday Mom!

My mother turned 80 today. She gets a lot of comments from people about how she doesn't look her age. I tell her she should borrow Gloria Steinem's line and say "This is what 80 looks like!"

I certainly hope that I get to enjoy both my parent's length of years.

Think before you pink

It's October, and that means Breast Cancer Awareness Month. For me, and maybe for you, every month is breast cancer awareness month, but I guess other people need an annual reminder.

Last year I ranted about buying pink merchandise as an effort to fight breast cancer. Remember Breast Cancer Barbie? Pink Campbell's soup?

This year I still want you to think before you pink.

I agree with the critical questions that Breast Cancer Action recommends you ask some before opening your wallet for pink-ribbon campaigns:

How much money from your purchase actually goes to the cause?

What is the maximum amount that will be donated?

How much money was spent marketing the product?

How are the funds being raised?

To what breast cancer organization does the money go, and what types of programs does it support?

What is the company doing to assure that its products are not contributing to the breast cancer epidemic?

For instance:
Yoplait’s fall campaign, Save Lids to Save Lives, continues to urge consumers to buy pink-lidded cups of Yoplait yogurt. For each pink lid mailed back to the company by December 31, Yoplait donates ten cents to Susan G. Komen for the Cure, up to $1.5 million. Sadly, a woman would have to eat three containers of Yoplait every day during the four-month campaign to raise $36 for the cause–and the yogurt is made from cows treated with rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone). Recent studies show that rBGH dairy products may be linked with an increased risk of breast, colon, and prostate cancer.

As the Breast Cancer Action website says, "If shopping could cure breast cancer it would be cured by now." So don't buy pink stuff to help me and women like me. Instead, make a donation straight to an organization that supports breast cancer research, early detection, or helps women living with breast cancer.

Read more about which charities give the most money to prevent and cure breast cancer at Charity Navigator.

October 02, 2007

Matchmaking in the P-I

My friend Jeanne, the Assertive Cancer Patient, who is looking for a Canadian sweetie with an eye to matrimony, was interviewed by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Her story was on yesterday's front page above the fold. For those of you who don't know journalism, an appearance above the fold indicates the importance the P-I places on that story.

Click to read Wanted: Husband with Canadian health care.

"Sometimes pain is just pain"

I got squeezed in to see my onc late yesterday afternoon and it turns out the xray was good -- no evidence of anything new. As he said, "sometimes pain is just pain." But I did the right thing in reporting it and getting it checked out.

Maybe it was the change of seasons? Arthritis? Overuse? Sleeping on that side and having the rod in my hip rub against tissue? Either way, I haven't had that pain since the end of last week.

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I dance with cancer. Oy!