Total Pageviews

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

It's that time again: Breast Cancer Awareness Month

[This paragraph used to be in the middle of the blog, but I moved it to the top to communicate that I am sensitive to the fact that many people are personally affected by breast cancer.  Also, many hard-working people volunteer their time to cancer groups and I don't want the point of this blog to take away from their good hearts.]  OK, now I take a step back to reiterate that I have nothing against breast cancer.  I mean, my mission is to prevent all cancers in everyone.  I know there are a lot of families in this country that have been affected by breast cancer.  I am sensitive to that fact.  One of my grandmas has had colon cancer, and the other one (much to my sadness) just passed away this week due to health complications.  I understand the emotional pain and stress that comes with a family member in ill-health.  Additionally, it is becoming more evident that cancer (can) be prevented but the problem is that people aren’t told how to do it!  This is what irritates me.  Women who survive longer than 5 years after being diagnosed with breast cancer are called “survivors”, BUT what goes unmentioned is that many of them die soon after.  Too many women die either before 5 years or soon after 5 years.  The rates of death are going down but not by enough (less than 2% last I checked) when the cure is right in front of our face.  That’s not enough progress, that’s just raising the wrong kind of awareness, the awareness based on a half truth is more harmful than ignorance.

The pink ribbon has come to symbolize hope. Just like making progress on ANYTHING in life, we need to ask the tough questions. What are we hoping for?

It’s time for my annual plea to the American people (and those reading in other countries too).  October has been tagged “breast cancer awareness month.”  For years I have been frustrated with this and I’ll tell you why.  Is there a woman (or man) in this country that hasn’t heard of breast cancer?  What are you making people aware of by spending tens of millions of dollars each year by promoting the names of cancer organizations (for instance Susan G Komen)?
Pretty much every woman in this country has it beat into her head from a young age to start getting a screening for breast cancer when she comes of age.  So what does a foundation who has raised over $1 billion dollars in the last 2 decades have to show for that amount of money?  Not enough for a billion dollars in my opinion.  Take for instance this whole situation of the NFL players wearing pink towels, shoes, sweat bands, pink gloves and hats.  I think it’s actually sponsored by the American Cancer Society (not SGK) but that doesn’t change my point.  The NFL is not a charity; that promo cost A LOT of money.  I mean tens of millions of dollars in all likelihood when you take into account all the gear, activation of the sponsorship, licensing fees and what’s the tangible benefit?

There has been an increased sexual feel towards breast cancer awareness ads in the last few years. It's something to think about when considering: what are you truly hoping for?

Hence, my annual October statement.  I think this month should be renamed “Cancer Prevention Month.”  If we spent the same money (as they do on breast cancer) informing people that we can prevent more incidents of (all) cancer by eating more fruits and vegetables, less fried, refined foods and meat, then we could achieve better results.  I am amazed how many people contact me and say how the information on this blog about eating healthier and making better decisions is brand new to them.  I’m so glad that I can humbly make a contribution, but I am a small fish compared to a billion dollars.  That means that the majority of America is not “aware” of how to eat healthy in a way that prevents cancer and other diseases.  But for a billion dollars I bet they could be!  Isn’t that encouraging?
So instead of spending my time and money donating them to a breast cancer campaign with modest (at best) results, I put them towards raising the awareness on better health over all.  Before you get mad at me for voicing my views, consider this:  The Susan G Komen foundation partnered with KFC last year.  Umm, fried foods and meats are some of the leading factors in developing cancer.  It was a travesty that the SGK foundation partnered with a fast food chain who contributes to the ill-health of the nation.  What’s next, SGK partners with Krispy Kreme and gets 50 cents for every dozen doughnuts sold??  You gotta admit, that’s pretty bad.  In case you were considering arguing that KFC now has grilled chicken, check this out.
I understand.  The survivors are instantly part of a huge sorority.  Everyone always likes to be part of a group.  Additionally, being able to grieve and share the pain of traumatic experiences with others who have gone through it too is a POWERFUL healing experience.  So please, don’t think that I am knocking that at all.  But please be logical for one question right now:  Isn’t the only way to stop the deaths by breast cancer to stop the deaths all cancers?  So here’s my belief:  We need to raise the awareness that all cancers are the problem and acknowledge there is no cure for cancer (gene mutation).  The ONLY cure is enabling our bodies to begin the healing process to rid our body of these foreign (cancer) cells.  The ONLY way to do that is through health and nutrition education.  The body doesn’t selectively heal, it heals everything at once!  It’s important to study certain cancers but it’s more important to promote the fact that the body will heal itself if we feed it correctly.

If people cared about heart disease as much as breast cancer, then we could cure them both at the same time. Curing heart disease in the body is the same cure for breast cancer. They would both disappear simultaneously!

Heart disease is the #1 killer in this country.  It takes the lives of 616,000 people each year.  This is about 9 times as many deaths as related to breast cancer at the mid 60,000 death mark.  However, breast cancer is more feared than pretty much any other major risk of death in women.  Maybe it’s because these “awareness campaigns” do a good job of raising fear, BUT not solutions.  How about this for awareness?  Black women are almost 50% more likely to die from breast cancer than white women.  No, cancer isn’t racist.  My theory is that it relates to vitamin D. People with dark skin have to spend more time in the sun to stimulate the same amount of vitamin D production as their lighter skinned counterparts.  It’s not fair that an “awareness” campaign lets something like this go under the radar as they spend an amazing amount of money on other marketing initiatives.
Let’s start to put our money, time and commitment into causes that actively advance an awareness that cancers (for the most part) can be prevented by a healthier lifestyle.  Now, I would be remiss if I didn’t inform you that cancer can start from an early age.  I have seen published information that cancer cells can mutate from healthy cells early in life (before a child understands diet and health).  For instance leukemia usually hits kids and there is no way that the kid can be blamed for that.  Additionally, if the parents don’t understand health and nutrition, how can they impart that on their kids?  So it’s not fair to blame any one person or group.  It has been a multi-generation problem of misinformation fed to our population about health and nutrition that leads to disease.  News flash:  It will be a multi-generation challenge of informing the population about proper health and nutrition that encourages life-long health.  So let’s start now!  Instead of donating money to big, money machine organizations that do little to promote the overall health of the population, donate a minute or two to me and help with my mission…
If you agree with any or all of the points I made here today, please share this post with others by clicking the share button down below.  That’s how you spread awareness!  Also, I don’t ask you to pay me to read the ideas here, but simply subscribe to the blog, share it with others and learn about our sponsors to support them. 

Russ Marchewka is a fellow health advocate promoting the "mostly vegan" lifestyle to prevent illness and disease.  He writes The Body Blog currently at and plays professional beach volleyball in the summer.

No comments:

Post a Comment