NaBloPoMo

….means National Blog Posting Month. 1 post per day.

Thanks to Rebel1in8, I found a fascinating article about pinkwashing and a whole lot more. If you all remember I had a small fit about that a while back, when I shaved my head. The article is written by an assistant professor of medical anthropology from Stanford, Prof. Sarah Lochlann Jain, and is published in Cultural Anthropology’s Nov 2007 issue.

One of the things that makes me so incredibly furious that it’ll make me cry, almost uncontrollably, is the implication, suggested by many a kind and caring soul (I am most definitely not pointing fingers here – this is ubiqitous), that I caused my breast cancer through my own stress levels. Yet very few have asked me about what chemicals I may have been exposed to or what the cancer rates are in the place that I grew up.

(I grew up in Washington State, which has the highest breast cancer rate in the country. See “Seattle’s Cancer Mystery,” Seattle Metropolitan Magazine, June 2006.)

Where does the tendency to blame a woman for her own stress come from, and if a man were in my shoes would the same issue come up? (Actually, does it come up in prostate cancer? That’d be interesting to know.) And why blame someone for their disease as the first resort, rather than looking to outside factors? What IS up with that?!

Jain is the first one that I’ve seen write about these sorts of issues in such detail:

“….the coinciding rhetorics of pinkwashing, sentimentality, the war on cancer, and the survivor figure scatter the politics of the disease as much as the pinkwashing campaigns hide the distribution of cancer profit. This approach offers legion cultural paradoxes: in a culture that understands cancer to be ubiquitous and virtually unavoidable (everything seems to cause cancer), personal risk and responsibility are the primary discourses for discussing the disease.

Thus, risk factors located in the body lead women with breast cancer to undergo patented genetic testing that costs about $5,000. Yet analyzing breast tissue for chemical carcinogens is virtually unheard of and certainly not paid for by insurance companies, despite studies that have shown that breast tissue around tumors often has a higher level of carcinogenic material to which siblings and other community members may also have been exposed.”

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Filed under breast cancer, quality of life

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