holiday season fun: selective media coverage of breast cancer

Deep breath.  I am at bit peeved at this moment in time and it ain’t a Tamoxifen induced mood swing.

I turned on the Today Show and they had Giuliana Rancic who is an E! News correspondent and a reality TV show star on the Today Show post breast cancer surgery.  Apparently she had a double lumpectomy and instead of radiation she is having a double mastectomy.  Because otherwise she wouldn’t have a quality of life with radiation and drugs like Tamoxifen.

Yes that is what she said.

Excuse me?   I had a lumpectomy, seven straight weeks of radiation and have begun my five-year regimen of Tamoxifen.  So that means that I have no quality of life?  Really? Really?   I should be considered as good as dead because I chose the best plan for my individual breast cancer?

I am sorry, but I think the Today Show just sent an irresponsible message.  First rule of breast cancer is every woman’s cancer is different.  What might be treatment for one isn’t treatment for another.

Giulian Rancic has chosen to get a double mastectomy and no radiation or tamoxifen because she still wants to try to have a baby.  She is obsessed with the fruit of her loins and all that.  Why not call it what it is.  Her choice is her decision, and it doesn’t mean my choice was wrong or I have no quality of life (even if the hot flashes right now on Tamoxifen are a real mothertrucker.)

Now the thing is this that I also do not like about this celebrity breast cancer message is Giuliana Rancic is that we never have heard if she was ductal or lobular or whatever.  Now she was undergoing fertility treatments, and with some women monkeying with the hormones could make a difference, even if they were really quick to say Giuliana’s IVF did not cause her breast cancer .   Ok, maybe it didn’t cause it, but can they say beyond a reasonable doubt it did not influence it?  Every woman I know who has done IVF has ended up with not only multiple births but a host of post baby gynecological issues.

Am I less of a woman because I was never able to bear children?  I don’t think so, it just wasn’t Mother Nature or God’s path for me.

And I am upset that the Today Show itself was so irresponsible that it would have Giulian Rancic back on and not temper her breast cancer story with a reminder that every woman’s cancer is different.  It is never so simplistic that a woman just decides to forgo standard treatment and lop off her boobs, and order new ones.

I remember having to weigh other options in my head before I had surgery.  But my options were to be and were determined by what my surgeon Dahlia Sataloff found when she went in and did my lupectomy.  I was blessed with clean nodes and margins, but there was no way in hell I was willing to roll any dice and skip radiation – the seven weeks of treatment I received at Lankenau Hospital under the careful eye of Marisa Weiss.

And I tell you this now if I had lumpectomys in both of my breasts and my nodes and/or margins weren’t squeaky clean I would not skip the radiation just because I was getting a double mastectomy and wanted to have a child.  Because guess what?  You roll that dice the wrong way and you might end up with a child who grows up without a mother when they could have.

Being a mother is not impossible if you can’t physically give birth.  You can have eggs harvested before treatment if you can afford that and have a surrogate.  You can adopt.  You can foster.  You can become involved with a partner who brings kids as part of the equation.  I guess as someone who knew since she was young that she probably would never be able to bear children I made my peace with it.   And figured I had to have enough faith that God had another plan.  So on that level, with this interview this morning I take issue with NBC and the Today Show.

And I am glad that Giliana’s husband has been supportive.  Fortunately for me I don’t need my sweet man on The Today Show to know how amazing he has been.

Breast cancer happens to more than celebrities. And every cancer is different.  I really wish that the media would REMEMBER that every time they salivate to get the celebrity du jour who popped a breast cancer diagnosis on camera.

Giuliana Rancic is also blessed with the money to cover the treatment she wants.  Many women are not so lucky, or they can cover the treatment but then have problems covering other things.  For example, you try to figure out how you are going to get your loved ones Christmas presents after a round of breast cancer.

I am grateful I am alive and know I made the right choices for MY cancer in spite of the fact I hate the hot flashes and funky sleep patterns the Tamoxifen are causing.  If I am very lucky and God is good this is the only time I do this dance with breast cancer.

I feel I have quality of life….after all I have my life.  And you know what?  If my docs want me to have mammograms every six months I will be going.  It’s a small inconvenience considering the alternative.

Celebrities raise the profile of breast cancer.  Their personal decisions are not necessarily the same decisions ordinary women should make.  Women should make the best decisions for themselves in conjunction with their doctors.

I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning to sail my ship.
~ Louisa May Alcott



About carla

Writer, blogger, photographer, breast cancer survivor. I write about whatever strikes my fancy as I meander through life.
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2 Responses to holiday season fun: selective media coverage of breast cancer

  1. Maureen says:

    I waited to see this broadcast having had a mastectomy this year to learn what treatment might be discussed. It seems very odd that without clean margins there is no follow up treatment such as chemo and radiation in addition to surgery to reduce recurrence. I am also taking Tamoxifan since June as further precaution against re-currence and the hot flashes are annoying.

    Her story was upsetting because although she has made peace with her decision she is just getting underway. I think the Today show may want to consider a follow up to this story with better information.

  2. nosoygirl says:

    You go, girl! I feel the same way!

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