I have to get my brain working and my butt moving, as my reintroduction to work after a largely lazy long weekend involves all my normal Monday stuff, plus my normal Tuesday stuff, plus Guide Day (so I will be running around and loading/unloading delivery people’s cars/trucks for huge chunks of the afternoon). Oh, and I have to run a press screening. It’s one of those mornings where I had barely opened my eyes before thinking ‘I can’t wait until I’m right back here again.’
I watched Pink Ribbons yesterday. It was frustrating, because the message is really fucking important and the content was pretty right-on, but the film itself wasn’t fantastic (very US-centric for an NFB film, kind of cheesy production values, far too long). It did make me cry, because I felt a bit hopeless, especially when I saw thousands of people at breast cancer runs/walks (I’ve participated in two myself) who really didn’t know where the money was going, nor that the sponsors of the events they were participating in were selling consumer goods containing carcinogens (not the case with the runs I did, thankfully). Screaming ‘YOU’RE BEING DUPED!!!’ in a movie theatre isn’t productive.
It also made me incredibly sad when talking about the mentality/imagery involved in these giant pink campaigns and how hard they can be for those who will die (or the families of those who will die) because the underlying message is that you can beat breast cancer if you just try hard enough. Close-to-home-hitting bullshit. My mother was sick for the better part of six years. She did everything the doctors ordered. She did fucking try through being poisoned, inadequate medications, and hideous radiation burns and other side effects. She died in September 2006.
One of the doctors in the film said that breast cancer treatment has barely changed in 40 years because we still don’t understand how it works, how it’s caused, or really, anything helpful in improving treatment options. No real cure can be found for the various types of breast cancer until we understand how the fuck it comes to be in any one woman’s (or man’s) body. Only 5% of research money goes to prevention, only 15% goes to researching causes.
I don’t dismiss the importance of community in anything, so it’s great that women are united against something that will affect 1 in 8 of them in horrific ways, but I really hope that people wake up and get angry, and get active, in more specific and constructive ways. Breast Cancer Action has some ideas.
I also learned (at least) one awesome phrase, though, ‘tyranny of cheerfulness’ (by Dr Samantha King, who wrote the book on which the movie was based). Also, it confirmed that Barbara Ehrenreich is pretty awesome. Here’s a piece she wrote on called ‘Pathologies of Hope’. You should read it.
Anyway, see the film, listen to the very wise people in it, try not to be too afraid of Nancy Brinker, and ignore its largely superficial flaws.