I was watching Jeopardy a few minutes ago when the network broke in with a news bulletin. Steve Jobs has just lost his eight year battle with pancreatic cancer.
I started to cry. Not only for cancer taking the life of another person who has changed and enriched all of our lives (both Mac and PC users) but because pancreatic cancer has taken the lives of an aunt, an uncle and a great uncle. It has been the great fear of my life. I fully know how deadly it is. It was a cry of frustration.
There is no diagnostic test for pancreatic cancer. Nor is there for stomach cancer and other digestive cancers. One is needed desperately. By the time you have symptoms the cancer has spread and it is too late. Meanwhile......
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Binghamton had its walk on Sunday. This sea of pink engulfed Binghamton once again. The long list of "pink" products you can buy at your local store seems endless. I'm sure enough of them were worn Sunday as the pink tide spread from Recreation Park.
I won't buy those products. It's out of principle. Because I don't think one cancer should be pitted against another. All cancers need to be fought, not just one or two. I say this with respect for those I know who have battled breast cancer but I said it a year ago, I said it last Thursday and, in honor of the passing of Steve Jobs, I will say it again.:
One cancer should not be singled out for special attention. One particular cancer should not get special walks and special fundraising.
When, on a Sunday last October, I found many of my Sunday paper's cartoons were tinted pink, it was the last straw for me, and I wrote this post. (It talks mainly of women but, as we all know, cancer is an equal opportunity killer.)
I say it again. Fight cancer. Fight and work towards a cure for....all cancer.
The Pink Cartoons that Made Me See RedWith deep apologies to one of my dear regular readers, I have to speak out.
Since when is breast cancer more important than other cancers? It is, if you have it. But there are a lot of women suffering and dying right now, from other cancers that barely see the light of day. The light of funding, that is. Funding for their cure.
Why does breast cancer rate a special fight, while other feminine cancers, such as uterine or ovarian, don't rate as high? Do they not deserve our attention? And our funds to "find a cure"? Or at least a good test, which ovarian cancer needs desperately?
I am sorry, Pink Cartoonists, but I feel you have disrespected my Aunt Trudy, who died from pancreatic cancer. You disrespected my Aunt Shirley, who died from stomach cancer. You disrespected my late co worker Madeline, who died from melanoma. You disrespected my late co worker Patricia who died from lung cancer.
You disrespect a co-worker for many years, whose grandmother and mother both died from colon cancer. You disrespect the fear she faces every day that she will be next.
You disrespect a former neighbor who lived next door to me. Two years ago she was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer (she was way too young for a routine colonoscopy, in case you are wondering.) You disrespect my late neighbor, a respected teacher in the Johnson City middle school, who succumbed to ovarian cancer and left her husband, also a teacher, to raise their two children.
Their cancer struggles deserve respect. Their cancers deserve walks and a special color and products whose sales help to fund the fight for "the cure".
All cancers deserve a cure. Not just breast cancer. I am sorry, I know women fighting breast cancer now and I do not disrespect what they are going through. What I fight against is this "women united against breast cancer" -while people seem to turn a funding blind eye to those women who were unfortunate enough to come down with a different type.
Don't they deserve a fight for the cure? A day of cartoon colors in their honor?
I think of the other friends and females relatives in my life. The survivors (two survivors of thyroid cancer, a survivor of ovarian cancer and a number of breast cancer survivors) and those who did not survive.
Their struggle was heroic, each and every one. The courage my friend Pat, who knew from the day she was diagnosed that she would not survive and prepared her family for that day without flinching, moved me in particular. I remember the last time I visited her, when she was in a coma, mere days from death. She lay there in her living room, with her favorite country music playing. "She won't respond", her husband said, "but she hears everything you say." It was so hard to say goodbye. The words stuck in my throat. I could swear she weakly squeezed my hand.
My co-worker Madeline struggled for nearly four years against melanoma.
My mother in law, who had two breast cancer diagnoses in one year, with a 10 year old daughter at home, faced her own struggle.
Don't women deserve a race to the "cure" against CANCER, no matter what type?