Friday, August 19, 2011

Pink Ribbon Blues

Sorry - the link to amazon does not seem to be working.

Pink Ribbon Blues
By Gayle A. Sulik
Published by Oxford University Press

I decided to read this book because I thought it would address some questions that I have about where all the money is going for all the pink ribbon paraphernalia that we are buying. However, this book is more a sociological study about the whole pink ribbon culture and the true face of breast cancer. Although I found it immensely boring reading it was at the same time very informative. I struggled through it and wished she had been telling more true stories throughout the book rather than at the end. By that time I just wanted to be done with it.

Sulik addresses the whole phenomena of what she calls the Pink Ribbon Culture and challenges it with the real facts of being diagnosed with breast cancer. The main purpose of the Pink Ribbon is to make everyone aware of breast cancer, to encourage woman to have mammograms and to turn all those diagnosed with the disease into fighting she-roes. And you thought it was just to fund research. The sad part is that breast cancer diagnoses is actually on the rise and early detection through mammograms has been proven not to be as reliable or as helpful in breast cancer diagnosis. Certainly there has been no cure for breast cancer but neither has there been a proven method of treatment. When is a mastectomy necessary? How about chemotherapy and, if so, which medicine? Is radiation a good idea?

The only positive outcome is the money being made by the pharmaceutical companies. Would they really want to cure this disease that is so lucrative? And I thought those who brought us the cute pink ribbon objects were untrustworthy.

But that isn't all. The whole Pink Ribbon business has become a culture unto itself. And woe be anyone who does not accept it. We want the she-roe who fights cancer like a warrior, remains strong and self-sufficient and becomes more attractive in the battle. Compare this to the actual facts of cancer fighters who often succumb to depression, anger and unhappiness while trying to keep up the appearances of the women who takes care of the family/others. Many women who have breast cancer do find a deeper meaning to their lives. Others already have a wonderful life; cancer just destroys it.

This book did make me question the frequent mammograms that my doctor insists on (one per year as I did not know my genetic pattern). Pink Ribbon Blues made me more aware of getting second opinions on any treatment recommended by a doctor after a breast cancer diagnosis. I will also be more cautious in literally buying into the Pink Ribbon Culture. Perhaps my money may be better used in other ways.

What does this book have to do with my faith? Where is faith in all this discussion? Sulik seems to give only two possibilities when you have breast cancer: become a she-roe or a completely helpless/hopeless creature. Should faith, prayer and the support of a believing community be a part of the struggle? I think so. This is not addressed in the book.

I would recommend this book to anyone struggling with breast cancer or doing research on breast cancer. I think it would be helpful and informative.

Happy reading!


Copyright 2011 Amelia G. Sims

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