Preventable My Ass

This essay was originally published on April 22, 2015.

I’ve been battling a cold for the past week, and I swear, it has legs. I guess I was due for one this severe, because I haven’t had a cold since I left the Great White North two-and-a-half years ago. I think that’s a personal record. I never got sick while I was on chemo, despite my non-existent immune system, so I think my body is treating me to a long overdue comeuppance.

Besides being stuffy and achy, I’m pissed off yet again by some things I found in my Facebook feed. An article that appeared in the Washington Post the other day set off the mammogram alarms, with it’s “gloom and doom” title masking the real intent of the story, which is to bitch and moan about the over-diagnosis of breast cancer.

“Right now, we have women getting bilateral mastectomies for ductal carcinoma in situ, which is not a cancer,” Otis Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, said. “It’s the world turned upside down.” Otis – my man! Thank you for telling me I lopped off my tits for nothing. If someone diagnosed you with testicular carcinoma in situ (I don’t know if that exists, but I’m making a point), would you put your balls at risk and let it go untreated? My guess is “no”.

The Post article was shared by my favorite militant-feminist breast cancer organization, Breast Cancer Action, and the comments that followed truly blew my mind. There are women out there who actually think cancer is preventable; that diet and exercise will spare you from the blight, and keep you healthy until you gently pass on into the night. You know what? In some places, that might be true.

North America is known for it’s pesticide-bombed, sugar-laden, genetically modified, processed “Frankenfood”, along with myriad chemicals polluting our groundwater, soil, and atmosphere. We refuse to embrace solar energy, we still mine and burn coal, and now we’re “fracking” the hell out of the planet to get our hands on natural gas deposits and bitumen. All this is likely responsible for the increase in breast and other cancers, but eating metric tons of kale and cauliflower isn’t going to put the brakes on those cancer cells. The truth is, we don’t know what will. Science is getting closer to finding out, but right now, we do what we have to do if those nasty cells manifest themselves in our bodies.

Maybe one day, I will buy myself a romantic villa in Tuscany, or a fabulous chateau in Provence (when I finally get published). I’ll grow my own pesticide-free fruits and vegetables, slaughter my own hormone- and antibiotic-free animals, and drink enough wine to keep me in a glorious stupor for the rest of my days. My cancer might come back, despite any effort made to escape the filthy, disease-ridden, industrialized world.

Cancer is like a nuke; it will find you wherever you attempt to hide. Preventable my ass; let’s stop kidding ourselves, shall we?

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