Saturday, October 9, 2010

Pink Ribbons Are Sweet : But We Love Breasts

October is Breast Awareness Month.

Oh please. This cannot be about a Month and Pink Ribbons, not about those generous companies who donate a portion of sales to the various breast associations, not even about Walking For A Cure.

The amazingly wonderful and brilliant, fiery-haired, hip-swiveling Samantha Dunn (ok, she was my teacher at some fierce UCLA writing workshops and I will always suck up a little) wrote this piece which is a MUST read: link here. Very personal actually. I was in class waiting for her (why is our teacher late, don't we matter) and watched her wipe a tear away, straighten those dancing shoulders and say something about confluence and pauses. Little did we know that she had been told she had a bad disease and here's the thing - NO SHE DIDN'T.  The point of this is that she is engaged as a writer and personally understands the language of fear and tests. You must become your advocate, and that is a colossal pain in the neck when you may be worried and not feeling well. Medicine is as much art and intuition, I know what I am saying here, as ability to translate the dialogue between patient, labs and doctors. Some things are simple and precise; but not always and being from the world of fashion, we do know how to stick our elbows out, smile and ask pertinent questions.

I had a quirky mammogram in June. Scar tissue bundles up and will confuse the technicians. An ultrasound is ordered, which is certainly much more comfortable. Lying in a bed at St. John's soft enough to have a hidden feather bed, a diffused pink peony with a simple cream mat and framed in a simple pine, the ultrasound confirms and reassures. My doctor is gentle but I imagine she'd gear up in Ninja gear with one of those Kill Bill swords to scoop out anything bad.

The point of this post is to repeat in bold something Dr. Alice Chung believes that is contra to the US Preventative Services Task Force. Frankly, if she believes it, then that's what we will believe in, insist upon and do (even though we do not want any part of this, sigh.) The USPS Task Force (huh? we're talking about Breasts here - task force sort of pisses me off.) believes in women beginning mammography at age fifty instead of age forty, women fifty to seventy-four should have a mammogram every other year and regular clinical breast exams are no longer advise. In a word .. my nicest word for this ... HUH?

No. We will instead listen to Dr. Chung and "we still believe screenings should begin at age forty for average risk women and continue annually ... for women over age seventy-four, if they are healthy, they should continue yearly screening."

Screenings save lives and breasts. Earlier the better and peace of mind matters. There have been crazy good advances in treating breast cancer, even the dreadful advanced cases. One of the sad things is that women (and men) have had to endure horrible side effects including loss of hair and nausea, and that's the beginning. It seems that in the wonderful world of biotech, there are sudden revolutions, not just a little better. This article is profound and if breast cancer is part  of your world, this is incredibly important. The article here, link here, is about a study of one hundred thirty five women in which the drug candidate worked better than the usual first line treatment and hair loss was reduced to 1.5% of the population. Better, fewer side effects and presenting additional documentation in Europe this weekend. This is a big deal and at the feet of the FDA - how to make treatments like this move quickly to the front of the line and yet preserve patient safety. Imagine ... saving a life better and without making the patient endure really dreadful side effects.  I did begin a stock position in this company and will add piece by piece: biotech investing is bumpy and best done slowly, I think.

(the blacked out link will take you to the article: blogger won't let me fix this, hmmmmm).

1 comment:

  1. Adding the following link to a series of videos from Dr. Alice Chung ...


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