Monday, September 17, 2007

The Naked Chest

In the modern world, the signs of breast cancer are everywhere, mostly in the form of pink kitsch. Pink ribbon magnets for the rear bumpers of cars, pink t-shirts, pink flip-flops, pink balloons, and so on and so on. You can buy plenty of such items from the Breast Cancer site (click daily to fund free mammograms). And then there is Barbara Ehrenrich's diatribe against the Cult of Pink Kitsch.

Breast cancer is a strange spook. I don't know anyone who has been diagnosed with it, but it is something I think about. It crosses my mind, stepping into the showers at the gym, hung with breast self-exam instructions. And I am thankful that it does not run in my family (I'm far more at risk for heart disease).

Reading about Deborah Lindner's experience in deciding to have a prophylactic double mastectomy was eye-opening. I don't know how I would have dealt with the news of a DNA test turning up the "breast cancer gene." I think the article is a wonderful documentation of the anxiety, the struggle, the pain and the bravery of her experience. In the end, I agreed with her decision to remove and reconstruct her breasts.

I don't know if I could bring myself to make the same decision. My breasts are part of my female anatomy; they are very important to my own identification as a woman. It's a decision I hope I never have to make.

1 responses:

Constance Squared said...

I do personally know two breast cancer survivors who both had it before the age of 30. Strange huh?

But I have to say that I am a bit.... annoyed (perhaps the wrong word) about the pink ribbon stuff. Women wave this flag about Breast Cancer this and Breast Cancer that. But the fact is that more women will die of heart disease than breast cancer. And yet because the breast is such a symbol of our femininity, this is the cause more women want to rally around. My mom is a prime example of this. She's also at high risk for a heart attack but refuses to admit it.

Don't get me wrong. I think that the Komen foundation is a great organization and has done great things, but my money goes to the American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society.

Sorry to get off on a rant there....

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