all right, breast cancer awareness month, I’M AWARE of breast cancer. i’ve seen the commercials, i read the articles. i have loved ones who’ve fought breast cancer. i get that the komen foundation is rolling in dough. and cancer is godawful, and early detection is crucial.
breast cancer kills approximately 40,000 people per year, and it gets October.
colorectal cancer kills 50,000, and it doesn’t get its own month.
lymphoma kills 75,000, and it doesn’t get its own month.
lung cancer kills a whopping 223,000. TWO HUNDRED TWENTY-THREE THOUSAND. and… you get the picture.
for a moment, let’s think beyond cancer, because the median age of death for all of these cancers is upwards of 68. and i’m not saying that 68 is old enough to put folks out to pasture — my dad is 68, so i certainly don’t want to see 68-year-olds dropping dead — but let’s just put this in perspective: cystic fibrosis patients die at a median age of about 23 years old.
now, by itself, cystic fibrosis is rare. it kills a few hundred americans per year. but cumulatively, rare diseases (those that affect fewer than 200,000 americans) afflict a total of 30 million americans. you know what needs awareness-raising? all of these rare diseases, for which research is woefully near-absent. not diseases whose various advocacy groups have the resources to waste money on multi-million dollar boondoggles to raise “awareness” instead of funding research. if half the money that’s spent on breast cancer “awareness” were spent on research for rare diseases, people would be healthier.
so i’ll go to the doctor each year like a good little girl, and perform breast self-exams when i think to do it, and in a few decades i’ll have all the mammograms my insurer will pay for. but no, i’m not going to change my facebook status, and no, i’m not going to wear pink for a disease that happens to have better PR than most.