trying to respect the pink sisterhood

light_pink_rose_by_thecr8tive1-d4xcyrbThe past few days I have been experiencing something new: a fellow breast cancer survivor who has no respect for the pink sisterhood.

The proverbial thin pink line of the pink sisterhood is sort of that unwritten rule where you don’t attempt to inflict anything bad on a fellow breast cancer survivor.

So I have run into this woman.  Younger than I am. Also a survivor.

Without boring you with all the gory details, the Cliff Notes version is this woman lives somewhere in my community and disagreed with me on some things.

She could have approached everything differently than she did.  The end result is she has created this weird war that she is the general of, that she is the primary player of. She is not doing anything overtly although most actions are fairly obvious as to intent, but there is a whole lot of passive aggressiveness going around.

It’s kind of crazy and she is creating this unpleasant atmosphere.  She is also bizarrely competitive.  She is the kind of person who loves to be like “Look at Me I’m Sandra Dee”. There is so much horn tooting going on, her hand must be tired.  Working, raising a family, and so on is not so unusual provided we are healthy enough to do it right? It’s not new ground being broken, it’s LIFE. Hell, it’s what we all do if healthy enough to do so, right?

Not everyone is the same. I am fine with that.  But to target another breast cancer survivor so she can play a game of whomever gets all the toys wins that I am not playing is weird.

You have to feel almost sorry for people who do things like this at the same time you find their behavior morally reprehensible.

I am trying to keep my side of the street clean and respect the pink sisterhood, even if clearly she does not.

She is the person you pray for to find inner peace.  I hope she gets what she needs out of this, poor thing.  It’s a whole mean girl thing going on.

Truly sad.

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targeting target for breast cancer profiteering

bc

Dear Target,

I hate Pinktober. It is a vomitorious b*llshit pink month for a lot of us who have had breast cancer, or are currently undergoing treatment, or live with the metastatic form of the disease.

Take your shirt for example? Stupid and somewhat offensive to me.

I have breasts. Lost a good chunk of one to BREAST cancer. They aren’t tater tots and tatas? Really? Goes with having to tee tee?

I did not have TaTa disorder. I had breast cancer. My life was saved. But I gave up having evenly shaped breasts in return.

I had seven weeks of radiation and am in year five of ten years of Tamoxifen.  Tamoxifen with side effect like spirit crushing joint pain and horrible hot flashes some days and sleep deprivation.

 I am grateful to be alive, but please, do something positive like help us lobby for health insurance reforms.

Breast cancer survivors and patients don’t need ridiculous pink T-shirts to wear in October that clash with fall colors and pumpkins, we need access to good health care.  We need health care that doesn’t dictate what our treatment should be at the expense of our health, mental well-being (stress), and even our lives. (HINT: THINK AETNA.)

Just look at your T-Shirt on your site Target – it’s ALL about your profit, you are not even pretending to “donate” to a charity.  And your model? Oh yeah sure (wink wink) she soooo looks like a survivor…a survivor of My Super Sweet 16 maybe…

This is only about you making a buck off of US.  You suck, frankly.

love,

A Survivor

1

Folks out there: this is ONLY about Target making a buck during Pinktober. It is time to BOYCOTT TARGET.

If you are on Twitter, please tweet @TARGET and tell them to pound sand with this shirt. You can tell them in Instagram too – same handle “Target” – Tell them on Facebook.

Here are some survivors and those living with the disease telling Target how they feel:

s1 s2 s3 s4

Also try this for contacting Target:

Target Corporation
John Hulbert, Investors, 612-761-6627
or
Erin Conroy, Financial Media, 612-761-5928
or
Target Media Hotline, 612-696-3400

investorrelations@target.com

brian.cornell@target.com

john.mulligan@target.com

jeff.jones@target.com

janna.potts@target.com

ceo contacts

Posted in breast cancer, health insurance | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

aetna is totally screwing individual subscribers and breast cancer survivors/patients

willowwomansat-358-450-500-90-cI wrote recently about groundhog day with Aetna . Sadly, the truth is that Aetna doesn’t want individual subscribers in Pennsylvania any longer. They say they value their subscribers, but really, they don’t. They are over us.

(Bastards.)

Being an individual subscriber off the “exchange” (as in you did NOT buy your health insurance from Healthcare.Gov) doesn’t give you a leg up with Aetna.

This summer we learned Aetna was pulling most of its Obamacare plans including in Pennsylvania , the state I live in. But I thought I would be o.k. because they said they were still offering coverage to individual subscribers.

For the last three years as an individual subscriber, Aetna has canceled whatever plan I was on.  So today I was talking with my neighbor Deb who has the same plan I do, and she said she took Aetna’s letter to subscribers as they were cancelling all individual subscribers.  I said “no way!”

But it got me worried, so I sent Aetna an e-mail:

I contacted you via Twitter because for the third year in a row I got a letter saying my plan was being canceled at year-end. I am not and never have been on the exchange.

I am in the Aetna Leap specialty I think that’s how you call it this year. I have always been an individual subscriber.

I have been an individual subscriber with you for years pre-dating the affordable care act.

You will find this email address attached to my official  Aetna account.

I am a breast cancer survivor so my benefits are very important to me and I need continuity of care so I have to be able to have plans that have my doctors, or at least provide access to them. I have had no problem with the Leap specialty or whatever you call it I’m on this year other than  the upfront co-pays are significantly more expensive for me because my doctors are in your top tier.

I thought I would be able to keep this plan a couple of years and you seriously ramp up subscriber stress levels with the continual canceling of plans like we are experiencing health insurance Groundhog Day.

I am extra concerned at this point because my neighbor up the street is on the same plan I am. She did not buy through the exchange either, she is an individual subscriber. The way she read your letter is that you are dumping all of us as individuals subscribers and we are not going to be able to have Aetna plans at all ever again.

So is Aetna getting rid of individual subscribers ?

Is this what I am up against?

I have had a very uneasy past few weeks since your letter came out.  My level of anxiety was not helped by the fact that when I called the phone number you listed for us to call for help choosing a new plan and all I got was a recording and no way to talk to anyone.

I don’t want to be on the exchange with Obamacare I don’t trust their website.

But I don’t know that I can have health insurance through you because people seem to be interpreting your letter as you are dumping all of us individual subscribers.

I hate to have to bother you guys every year with this stuff, I’d like to be truly self-sufficient, but I need to know what it is I am supposed to do.

Will I have plans available through your company that will be good enough to give me the coverage I need? Or are you dumping ALL of  your individual subscribers?

I cc’d the President Karen Lynch LynchKS@aetna.com
So a nice lady (no sarcasm, really, really nice) named Stephanie from Member Services called.   Yes they would offer ONE plan for where I live.  Something like “Aetna Leap Silver”.

Guess what? Only ONE of the doctors I have to see about twice a year are covered.  The others are all “out of network”!

(Bastards.)

I said I am not some 24 year old— I can’t just up and switch my care team. I am a breast cancer survivor and technically a cancer patient in treatment for at least the next five years.

The response was I could fill out Transition of Care forms and maybe the doctors might be considered.

Translation: not bloody likely if we are being real about it.

(Bastards.)

Stephanie tells me how Aetna values ALL of their subscribers and I retorted how is that possible if you are dumping us?

“No we’re not.” she says

Yes you are I replied if you won’t structure plans that enable cancer patients (for example) to see their care teams.

We have other doctors you can choose from, was the response.  I am paraphrasing because I don’t remember precisely as my head was spinning.

WTF Aetna? WTF?

(Bastards.)

Now I have to try to find other coverage, because I need to have these doctors.

Aetna is not having enough screws put to them in Washington DC obviously since they are screwing me over, a breast cancer survivor and patient. And they are doing it during freaking Pinktober.

Way to care about breast cancer survivors, Aetna. Way to care about the self-employed or folks that need to self-insure because employers do not offer healthcare coverage.

(Bastards.)

#AetnaSUCKS, pass it on.

I chose the image above which is a work of art actually because Aetna has made me feel like a nameless, faceless, unimportant person with no real value.

Aetna’s slogan should be “Aetna. We are cheap uncaring bastards who will take your money, give you a hard time, and then dump you when we feel like it. ”

(Bastards.)

PS Someone again please tell me how well Obamacare is working. 

PPS  I am now going to check political candidates and see who has received donations from Aetna. I won’t be voting for them.

 

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no pinktober here

08275459-06e3-4a35-afdb-3236899e911c

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groundhog day with aetna

pizap-com14749168841821

I saw the envelope in my mailbox from Aetna today.  And I knew, I just knew based on the kind of envelope it was what the contents were.

Yup.

You got it. Groundhog day health insurer style.

At the end of this year Aetna is discontinuing my current individual subscriber plan.  I have Aetna Leap Specialty. Or I think that is the name. I am not on the “exchange”, I am an INDIVIDUAL Atena subscriber who pre-dates the Affordable Care Act.

Aetna quit the healthcare exchange this summer in several states, including the one I live in, Pennsylvania.  The pointed to “financial stress” Bloomberg News on August 15, 2016 quoted the CEO as saying :

“The vast majority of payers have experienced continued financial stress within their individual public exchange business,” Aetna Chief Executive Officer Mark Bertolini said in the statement. “Providing affordable, high-quality health care options to consumers is not possible without a balanced risk pool.”

Can we go back to my original thought about how the health insurance industry cannot be reformed if you don’t start with the actual companies?  If the health insurance companies aren’t forced to change and the pharmaceutical companies aren’t forced to change, crap is just going to keep happening. Because why? They don’t care about their customers and their subscribers, they only care about their profit margins. Without actual reform, this stuff will just keep happening.

Look at Mylan which as a drug company I think sucks anyway.  The Wall Street Journal just broke more news on the upcharging epi pen sellers:

Mylan’s EpiPen Pretax Profits 60% Higher Than Number Told to CongressCompany applied 37.5% tax rate onto the profits it revealed to a House committee hearing last week

Updated Sept. 26, 2016 3:01 p.m. ET

When Mylan NV’s chief executive testified before a congressional committee last week about steep price increases on its lifesaving EpiPen drug, House members badgered her to provide more evidence for the company’s claim that its profit was $100 for a two-pack of the injectors, despite a $608 list price.

The committee members left unsatisfied. Now it appears they were right to seek clarity.

In response to questions from The Wall Street Journal, Mylan now says the $100 figure presented by CEO Heather Bresch included something the company didn’t clearly convey to Congress—taxes. The company substantially reduced its calculation of EpiPen profit by applying the statutory U.S. tax rate of 37.5%.

Without the tax-related reduction, Mylan’s profit on the EpiPen two-pack would be closer to $160, or 60% higher than the figure the company gave Congress. The company sells about 4.1 million EpiPen two-packs in the U.S., analysts said.

 

So back to Aetna….and I do hope they have to appear on a Capitol Hill Hot Seat like Mylan soon. (but I digress).

Ever since the Affordable Care Act came to be, Aetna pretty much monkeys with my coverage annually. You know, like Groundhog Day.

For the past three years in particular, Aetna has informed me some time from August through I guess October that they are discontinuing whatever  health insurance plan I have with them as an individual subscriber NOT on the Exchange.

That letter arrived again today. It also had a handy non-discrimination notice in the envelope and translation to Sudanese and other languages. They want to make sure all their subscribers know they are screwed whether they are on the Exchange or not.

aetna-1-a

They provided me with a toll free number to call. I called. I got a recording after losing three minutes of my life from an Aetna “partner” (code word for more outsourcing) saying I could talk to them on October 15th.

aetna-2 aetna-3

So now I get to add to my annual stress levels when it comes to health insurance.

So now this will be added to the Aetna headache posts like:

update on healthcare drama, or can you hear me screaming

It is indeed health insurance Groundhog Day.  Oh gee golly whillikers I can hardly wait! I have already lost a few hours today but come October I get to do it again.  And as a breast cancer survivor who needs continuity of care, I end up spending hours on the the phone making sure I get adequate coverage.

It’s not so easy and I have to check and make sure every single doctor I see within the University of Pennsylvania Healthcare System is on the plans I look at.  I have a cancer team. I am not some 25 year old whose greatest worry is the annual OB/GYN exam and can I get birth control covered. I am a 52 year old breast cancer survivor still in active treatment because hello I take cancer drugs.

I mean WTF Aetna??? Time to start contacting the man in the ivory tower CEO Mark Bertolini and President Karen Lunch again.

LynchKS@aetna.com

I already started by Tweeting my displeasure and the @AetnaHelp tweetie birds are all a twitter literally.  But how can they help me? I know from past similar conversations they can’t tell me why I have Groundhog Day on an annual basis with my plans.  They are like Aetna’s social media Rockettes, they kick up their virtual legs, but that is about it.

I am really not so difficult.  All I want is continuity.  I want to pay my premium and be able to see my doctors all year round, not just 2/3 of the year with 1/3 of the year feeling my blood pressure rise as I realize I have to dance for health insurance again.

If you live in Pennsylvania and are an individual insured, you do NOT have many options.  I can tell you from my friends that the exchange under the Affordable Care Act does NOT offer much in the way of actual choice, let alone plans that are actually worth paying for.  That leaves Aetna and Independence Blue Cross.

I had Keystone HMO before Obamacare and before breast cancer when I was on a corporate plan and then when I was covered on my ex’s small business policy. When he left I had to get individual insurance.  As an individual Keystone / Independence Blue Cross they rejected me for coverage because…wait for it…I had answered yes to the question did I ever have irregular periods. I remember speaking to the underwrtiter at the time and asking her if she had ever had an irregular period and did she answer the question honestly or lie.   She did not like that very much.

That is how I ended up with Aetna.

Aetna pre-Obamacare was easy.  It was affordable and I had the coverage I needed, including all my Penn doctors.

Now I have an annual headache of Aetna Groundhog day.  Then trying to get used to new plans, new charges, their “tier” system.  Basically all my doctors are really good ones so it I pay the top tier of pricing.   Suffice it to say, I pay well above a $50 co-pay.

But looking at Keystone Health Plan East, I see that Independence Blue Cross still doesn’t really want to cover individual subscribers. Oh yes, they have the nice and fluffy Obamacare-speak, but they still do not seem to want to cover individuals.

No one does.  You have this big healthcare revolution that has been instituted during 8 years of Obama as President and the healthcare system in this country is as big a hot mess as ever.

I have never, ever gone without health insurance. I have always kept myself insured. But now at 52, I am a five year self-employed breast cancer survivor and my options seem to shrink annually. By law I have to have health insurance and by need I have to have health insurance. But health insurance companies want to offer us less and less and charge us more, or find a way to dump the state you live in.

Me going on the Obamacare exchange is not a viable option, especially if I was to keep seeing the doctors who saved my life and God forbid I get a recurrence.   Oh yes, sure supposedly they can’t cancel you for a pre-exisiting condition like cancer, but oh yes they can try other ways to do JUST THAT.

That is what I think this annual Groudhog Day with Aetna is about. They do not value me or my timely paid, never missed insurance premiums.  They are trying to find a way to get rid of us pesky self-insureds. THAT is what is really going on in my opinion.  If they valued me and my business, I would just get a renewal notice like I used to before Obamacare.

But I don’t.  I get a letter telling me so sad too bad I am in cancellation city at the end of 2016. That I have to start the process ALL OVER AGAIN.  But I can’t talk to anyone NOW about what my options are, I have to wait until October 15 and then talk to some other person employed in an Aetna outsourced area. And if I need help between now and then, hell I know the routine, you go to call centers in the Phillipines where they can’t deviate from a script and can’t help you and often refuse to transfer you to a state-side call center even if they are supposed to transfer you if you know to request that.

Today I decided to reach out and touch elected officials in the United States Senate.  I chose the senators I can see putting the most pressure on Aetna: Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.)

How did I figure them out?

See these articles:

Aetna’s Health Reform Blueprint: Invest in Public Health

The health insurance giant will be focusing its efforts on investment in social programs.

By Kimberly Leonard | Staff Writer Sept. 26, 2016, at 9:12 a.m.

Aetna, the health insurance behemoth that recently backed away from Obamacare, is focusing its efforts on setting the blueprint for what it sees as the next step to health care reform under a new administration.

Through research and grants the firm’s Aetna Foundation is investing in projects aimed at reducing chronic disease like expanding healthy eating options or constructing walkable neighborhoods. The company, says Aetna chairman and CEO Mark Bertolini, intends to demonstrate that the quality of a person’s health has less to do with the health care they receive and more to do with how they live.

and

Senators send 2nd letter to Aetna CEO following unanswered questions — 5 key points

Several Democratic senators sent a second letter to Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini, demanding answers as to why the payer left the Affordable Care Act exchanges, according to Morning Consult.

Senate Democrats Again Question Aetna’s Exchange Withdrawal

CT Mirror: Senators press fight with Aetna over quitting ACA exchanges

Washington – A group of liberal senators and Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini continued their battle Friday, with the lawmakers accusing the insurance executive of avoiding their questions about Aetna’s decision to quit 11 health insurance exchanges.

“We are disappointed by your failure to respond in a meaningful way. Your lack of cooperation does not mollify our concern that Aetna appears to be attempting to force the Justice Department into approving its controversial merger by threatening access to coverage for millions of Americans,” wrote Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, and three other senators.

The senators had written Bertolini on Sept. 8, asking the Aetna chief about his decision to withdraw from 11 Affordable Care Act exchanges after the Justice Department challenged Aetna’s proposed merger with Humana. The senators asked Bertolini to respond to 12 questions, including “what exact costs Aetna will incur now that the Justice Department has challenged the merger” and how much it will cost the company if the merger is ultimately blocked.

 

So I called the offices of these U.S. Senators.  First their staffers all asked me why I wasn’t calling Pennsylvania Senators Casey and Toomey.  I asked them if they had met the people tasked with representing Pennsylvanians.

First there is Bob Casey whose office still hasn’t responded to a fairly simple query I made oh around 2007 or 2008.

Then there is Pat Toomey, who seems to prefer women be seen and not heard and not have the right to choose.  If I was Toomey’s ideal woman I would be silent, barefoot, preggers and in the kitchen.  Only I am 52, a breast cancer survivor with a brain in her head and who has had a hysterectomy. I am not his ideal conservative breeder, in other words.

So I gave these Senators’ offices a call this afternoon and told them what it was like being an Aetna insured NOT on the exchange and NOT on a corporate plan, but as an individual.

(here is the link to the letter these senators sent http://www.warren.senate.gov/files/documents/2016-09-23AetnaFollowupLetter.pdf)

Not all the Senators had staffers to answer their phones.  Some just had voice mail and Florida Senator Bill Nelson’s phone just rang and rang and rang.

But I did get to speak to people in Senator Warren and Senator Sanders offices.  I just wanted them to know what it was like to be an individual in Pennsylvania dealing with Aetna and their annual Groundhog Day.

Will it do any good? I do not know.  All I do know is what happens to me and millions of others annually is not fair.

Some will say life is not fair and to them I say nice view point, but no I am not accepting this health insurance Groundhog Day every year.

Aetna, your subscribers deserve better.

And PS Aetna as of September 16 was protesting the fact they lost out on three-year contracts to manage long-term care for Medicaid beneficiaries.     I find that ironic all things considered.

I would love to be able to bill Aetna the time I have to spend not -working and being my own health care advocate.   Is anyone starting a class action suit against Aetna? Hit me up via this blog if it happens.

Read about Aetna Complaints HERE  and HERE or just look at their Facebook page.

 

 

 

Posted in health insurance | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

a big bowl of wrong with a sleazy cherry on top

imrsOne of the things I dislike is when individuals try to profit from another person’s uncertainty and fear.  I also intensely dislike when non-oncology, non-medical professionals try to tell you how to cure breast cancer, especially when their “experience” is selling direct marketing supplements like Juice Plus.

Take for example yesterday, the woman whose degree was not in heath, nutrition, or medicine, but studied metalsmithing and in addition to “healthy” JuicePlus  well she makes fancy (and sugary) cakes.   She popped up on a message board where a woman younger than myself put it out there she was just confirmed as being a carrier of the BRCA gene and essentially how her head was swimming.

Some people offered suggestions to groups and websites she could join for information, friendship, and solidarity for lack of a better description.  However, then there were the others who popped up who not only  were never treated for cancer but had no reasonable backgrounds in medicine, oncology, or were trained specifically as a nutritionist for cancer patients .

I am sorry yet not sorry I find those people offensive.  I remember them all too well.

First I had the man who told me to skip all treatment and take these little iodine pills he was selling.   Then there was the woman who two days before my surgery told me I should cancel having the tumor excised and skip all traditional medicine and try her concoction of herbs mixed with broccoli and kale smoothies or something like that.

I found these people stunning in their ignorance.  And they never take the first “no” you give them as no. Such was the case of this Juice Plus diva.

1742927b05c610dded0e31c48a6d5863She private messages me about the Juice Plus  because I found her trying to sell this other woman offensive and essentially she then tries to sell me.  Even though I said to her truthfully there is NO as in ZERO proof that Juice Plus cures cancer. And how I was not a fan or believer of direct marketing businesses because if the products were all so fabulous, they would be readily available everywhere without ordering and not sold solely through home shows and housewives.

Then this woman says to me:

The founder of beatcancer.org Susan Silberstein does highly recommend juice plus. Also, it is not a supplement

I will get to BeatCancer.org  which is NOT the same as BreastCancer.org next, but wow she doesn’t even know that BeatCancer chick is NOT a medical doctor, or an oncologist but her doctor comes from the fact she was a psychologist.   The other guy, now CEO had a background in personal training and such and then there is one other woman who is a Naturopath.  Again, no actual cancer related medical professionals.

Anyway, getting frustrated with this woman I tell her I am not interested (again), not a fan of direct marketing, and (again) Juice Plus does not cure cancer. And that people who have not had cancer nor experience treating it should be trying to sell people supplements. Oh and then I said I think we are done here.

Well she wasn’t , this Mrs. Know It All, and she says:

Well maybe if you were not so angry you would find out that there are things out in the world that helps. Not everything is out to get you.

Did I mention I have never met nor conversed with this woman? That she initiated contact through no request of mine? I replied to her that quite specifically people like her who use any inappropriate excuse possible to sell someone something,make me angry.

She replies:

I truly believe it can help. It is a product with 38 clinical research studies. What crap??

Oy vey, reallly Stepford Wife Direct Marketer, so these studies come from the University of The Internet I guess?

She continues (amusingly):

Pyramid schemes are illegal and this company has been around for over 40 years. Direct marketing is a very legal business, maybe you are out of the loop but many many people earn money very legally this way.  I am curious what you know about the product?

 

(At this point I am waiting for her to whip out the Slipada and Stella & Dot summer sale items. Maybe interest me in some Isogenix.)

She then proceeds to tell how I have a problem,  she was giving “honest advice” and not trying to sell anyone anything and how I do not know what I am talking about.   Truthfully at this point I was unforgivably rude just so she would go away….she kept talking. So I blocked her which is very efficient pest control.

Then on the message board another seller of Juice Plus pops up but says her “friend” sells it, only look at her profiles and she apparently is her very own “friend” because she sells it.  Then she says how she knows a breast cancer patient who “swears by it”  and how it is certified to do so and so on.

Then someone rolls up about The Center for Advancement in Cancer Education otherwise known as BeatCancer.org.

Let’s start with Juice Plus and break it down.  It is a whole food based SUPPLEMENT.  It is not a replacement for whole foods or medicine. It is NOT proven to cure cancer.

Proper oncology based nutritionists  are nutritionists trained for cancer  and are quite specific in their discipline.  I know because I got one when I picked my surgeon, oncologist, etc.  They were VERY specific – they explained why they wanted me off oral supplements and vitamins through the end of treatment.

Yes and they want you getting whole food sources BUT they want it naturally occurring as in the food you are eating.

I had pages and pages of stuff to eat, what was a super food , what to avoid.  They wanted patients on foods that gave us naturally occurring what we needed NOT thru an engineered supplement.

Don’t believe me? How about what Memorial Sloan Kettering says?

MSK

Or what the University of Pennsylvania says in OncoLink:

juice plus scam

So yeah, I don’t know about you, but the people who have given me five years cancer free mmm might be the one I would listen to.  If not, there is this terrific article on a website called  MLM Watch, The Skeptical Guide to Multilevel Marketing:

Juice Plus: A Critical Look

Stephen Barrett, M.D.

National Safety Associates (NSA) president Jay Martin likes to turn simple ideas into megamillion-dollar sales. An NSA brochure states by 1997, his company had generated over $3 billion in sales by “developing and introducing innovative new products that are on the leading edge of whole new industries”: home fire detectors in the 1970s, water filters in the early 1980s, and air filters in the late 1980s. But its “biggest hit yet,” is a line of “natural food-based products designed to help prevent disease.” [1] Its flagship product —Juice Plus+®—was introduced in 1993 and reportedly hit $6 million per month by the end of its first year [2].

The Juice Plus+ recipe for success is very simple: Fruits and vegetables are good for us. Capture their goodness in convenient products. Add endorsements, testimonials, a pinch of fear, a scientific veneer, and several dollops of deception. And harness the power of multilevel marketing (MLM) to spread the word. All of these ingredients have been around for many years. But NSA has developed a winning mix.

It is well established that dietary strategies can help prevent certain cancers and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Popularization of the diet-cancer link began during the early 1980s…MLM is a form of direct sales in which independent distributors can make money not only from their own sales but also from those of the people they recruit. Its roots date back to the 1930s when a California businessman began offering friends a commission for selling a food supplement to their friends. The operation evolved into Nutrilite Products in 1939 and began significant interstate distribution in 1945. In 1959, two highly successful distributors formed a new company that evolved into the multibillion-dollar, international conglomerate now called Amway. Shaklee Corporation, another MLM giant, was founded in 1956 by a retired chiropractor. Since that time, hundreds of other companies and millions of “independent distributors” have joined the fray.

Until the mid-1980s, claims made for health-related MLM products were conveyed mainly through direct personal contact in which the salesperson’s personal success story (health or financial) played an important role. Since that time, however, many companies have added slick videotapes and audiotapes to spread their story, telephone conferences to train large groups of salespeople, a scientific advisory board to seem more authoritative, company-sponsored research to appear more authentic, and endorsements from prominent persons to lend prestige. Many companies use scare tactics and cite scientific research to suggest that their products will prevent disease. NSA does all of these things effectively.

Testimonials Are not Reliable Evidence

The “success” of network marketing lies in the enthusiasm of its participants. Most people who think something has helped their health enjoy sharing their success with their friends. Testimonial-givers are usually motivated by a sincere wish to help their fellow humans. Since people tend to believe what others tell them about personal experiences, testimonials can be powerful persuaders. An NSA distributor manual notes that “as people use the product, they begin to build their own Juice Plus+ story to share with others.” Although NSA literature has stated, “We do not make any claims . . . involving the prevention, cure, mitigation of any disease,” NSA distributors have circulated statements that Juice Plus+ products have relieved a wide variety of discomforts…..

Testimonials, of course, should not be regarded as valid evidence. Without well-designed tests, it is usually impossible to tell whether changes that take place after taking a product are the result of the product, a placebo effect, or other factors such the fact that symptoms often change with the passage of time. Nor is it possible to tell whether enthusiastic, financially motivated salespeople accurately report what they experience.

The unreliability of testimonials was dramatically illustrated by the case of former football star O.J. Simpson, who was charged with stabbing his wife and her friend Ronald Goldman…..NSA sales aids acknowledge that taking Juice Plus+ is not as good as eating the recommended amounts of grains, fruits, and vegetables. But they also state that everyone should take Juice Plus+, including people whose diets contain adequate amounts of the nutrients in Juice Plus+. NSA’s “Preferred Customers” who buy a four-month supply of Juice Plus+ capsules at a time, pay about $480 per year. If every American did this, the total annual cost would exceed $100 billion. Do you think this would be a wise allocation of our national resources?

does juiceplus stop cancer

Ok so enough about Juice Plus except to say now they are all branched out into kid food, bars, and meal supplement shakes.  But they don’t talk about all the soy or the potential side effects of too much B12 and folic acid —- yes you got it, cancer.

And they neglect to mention all the soy in the products. I was treated for a hormone driven breast cancer so I know that soy is not my long term friend because  well hello phytoestrogens – soy stimulated the growth of estrogen dependent tumors found in breast cancer.

But hey I know nothing right? I am only a survivor with a really excellent care team, right?

Ancestral Nutrition also reviewed Juice Plus and they were NOT positive or polite in how they despise the products. Please, allow me, read the excerpt:

….I don’t like JP supplements….

Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate that is naturally found in food. This is a huge problem. Folate is a naturally occurring water soluble B vitamin. Folic acid, however, is a synthesized form of folate that the body is unable to properly absorb or utilize…..While folate is a necessary part of a balanced diet, folic acid has actually been linked to increased rates of cancer.

….I f*ucking hate soy. And you should too. Here’s why.

First, let’s clear up the idea that Eastern countries have been eating soy for thousands of years. Yes, Asian countries in particular eat soy. No, they do not eat soy the way Westerners do. Only recently has soy become a replacement staple for meat. Asian countries consume soy as a condiment. In soy sauce, in miso soup, in aminos. They almost always ferment their soy which reduces the enzyme inhibitors, goitrogens and phytic acid that is naturally present in soy.

In the US, soy is not only one of the highest GMO crops (upward of 90%), it is also eaten as a staple. It’s in junk food. It’s in health food. This is because of a genius stroke of marketing. What do you do with a crop as useless as soy? You convince people it’s healthy.

You extract the oil from it using a process of extremely high heat, hexane (a neurotoxin) and bleaching. Then with the leftover trash from this process, you create soy protein – what you find in meat substitutes and cheap protein shakes (except Juice Plus isn’t so cheap).

This study found that soy stimulated the growth of estrogen dependent tumors found in breast cancer….

….prolonged consumption of soy protein isolate has a stimulatory effect on the premenopausal female breast, characterized by increased secretion of breast fluid, the appearance of hyperplastic epithelial cells, and elevated levels of plasma estradiol…..

Soy is high in phytic acid, also known as phytates. These phytates prevent the absorption of minerals like magnesium, iron, calcium and phosphorous (among others). This can be particularly problematic, especially for children.

Soy is also high in goitrogens which can interfere with the thyroid hormone, leading to hypothroidism and even cancer…..Soy is high in phytoestrogen (source). This can interfere and block normal estrogen, leading not just to hormonal imbalance but even breast cancer…..A study from Harvard found that men consuming the equivalent of one cup of soy milk per day had 50% lower sperm count than men who did not consume soy (even accounting for other factors like age, caffeine and alcohol intake, etc).

 

Yeah, so I rest my case.  If you have cancer or pop BRCA positive and you want to live a healthier lifestyle by all means seek out a nutritionist or even holistic practitioner to create a healthier lifestyle. But do not use it in lieu of science and traditional medicine. Mutated genes are NOT going to go away just because you eat lots of broccoli or buy supplements like Juice Plus.  As a matter of fact your doctors should always know all supplements you take.

Other than vitamins without soy I take Maca Root and Curcumin.  My doctors know and they know how much.  When I was in treatment , I came off all of that stuff.  recently when I had an unexpected bout of acid reflux (caused because I took too much ibuprofen getting over wrenching muscles in my back), I had to come off the curcumin for a while because it inhibited the prescription I was given for a month to help myself heal.

My doctors are my partners in staying healthy.  They know everything I do, and I ask them when I am considering any changes.  I actually considered Juice Plus believe it or not a few months ago.  I did lots of research and at first I was not signing on the dotted line because of the cost.  But then the more research I did the more questions I had.

So I asked my medical team and the nutritionist who had been assigned to me during my surgery and radiation treatment.  They were all blunt in their response which was a resounding “no” especially because of the soy content and what that article above I quoted said about folic acid and B12 and so on.  The nutritionist pretty much summed it up when she said there was no magic bullet and everything I was wanting in those supplements was best found naturally occurring in foods.  In other words, more fruits and veggies and so on.

So yes, yesterday I was somewhat angered and outraged that these women would literally prey upon a person reaching out with overwhelming news of the BRCA gene mutations. It is such bad form.

And then they were also pushing a non-profit I never heard of less than 24 hours ago, The Center for Advancement in Cancer Education otherwise known as BeatCancer.org.

They are right here in Pennsylvania and I have heard of almost everything breast cancer related after five years but not them.  They have a fancy schmancy website and seem to operate on “testimonials.”  They also do not seem to have any actual oncology experts on staff.

I found it amusing their name was so close to one of my favorite breast cancer non-profits, BreastCancer.org, which is completely wonderful, legitimate, and founded by my radiation oncologist. That woman helped save my life quite literally, so I think she knows what she is talking about.

These BeatCancer people, I am not so sure of.  First of all they sell “cancer kits”.  You know, none of my doctors sold me cancer kits, they gave me lots of information and access to all sorts of things including licensed nutritionists and therapists as part of my breast benefits.   And reputable non-profits like BreastCancer.org and Living Beyond Breast Cancer sent me all the information I requested without asking for a dime. But no, these BEATCANCER people sell kits like you are going to go crafting and cure cancer with macrame beads:

cancer kits

As a matter of fact, BeatCancer would like to sell you LOTS of things. To further add to my mounting suspicion of them , I guess I should mention their partnership with Juice Plus, right? Would I lie?

Nope, check it out:

juiceplus

You know I love my screen shots.

So this all made me go to Guidestar to further check them out here have some more screen shots (and not how much they spend on things like advertising):

bratcancer.org

call center cancer prevention training

at a glance corporate governance how they spend 2 how they spend

2014 990

Beat Cancer AKA The Center for Advancement in Cancer Education Financials 2015

Gudestar report on BeatCancer

 

So don’t take my word for it, do your own research.  The Center for Advancement in Cancer Education AKA BeatCancer.org and Juice Plus do not pass the smell test with me.

So maybe it is just me, but sometime if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, well it’s a duck. And for a non-profit, I did not find what GuideStar had to say a ringing endorsement. And the corporate governance stuff I found troubling.

As for Juice Plus, in the end there are no magic bullets.  And the fact that so many of the people who sell it basically say how it helps cure cancer and helps prevent cancer when there is nothing legitimate  to back it up and they insist a supplement is in fact not a supplement because it’s a marketing ploy? Well, yeah, I find all that troubling too.

These are my opinions based on my own personal research.  Do your own before you give money, buy products, or take the advice of a non-medical/oncology professional.

It’s just common sense. Or you can read Scary Mommy on their take of people who try to solicit you on Facebook.

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#brave

Photo courtesy of Shannen Doherty Facebook and Instagram

Photo courtesy of Shannen Doherty Facebook and Instagram

Truly, no words are necessary. This is just #brave. I have been critical of celebrities fighting breast cancer, but Shannen Doherty gets nothing but #respect.  She is one of the only celebrities I have ever seen show the world what this whole bullshit of fighting cancer is about.  And for a woman going through treatment, I do not think she has ever been more beautiful.

Bravo, Shannen. I don’t know you, you don’t know me. I am one of your millions of new sister in the sisterhood we never asked to belong to. Your photos moved me to tears.

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