not so subliminal message to ignore breast cancer?

All our lives since we developed breasts, we are told to self check, have mammograms and above all else swiftly deal with breast cancer. But of course, along comes a study basically telling us in my opinion to play Russian Roulette with our lives.

New York Times: Doubt Is Raised Over Value of Surgery for Breast Lesion at Earliest Stage


As many as 60,000 American women each year are told they have a very early stage of breast cancer — Stage 0, as it is commonly known — a possible precursor to what could be a deadly tumor. And almost every one of the women has either a lumpectomy or a mastectomy, and often a double mastectomy, removing a healthy breast as well…..

…..Diagnoses of D.C.I.S., involving abnormal cells confined to the milk ducts of the breast, have soared in recent decades. They now account for as much as a quarter of cancer diagnoses made with mammography, as radiologists find smaller and smaller lesions. But the new data on outcomes raises provocative questions: Is D.C.I.S. cancer, a precursor to the disease or just a risk factor for some women? Is there any reason for most patients with the diagnosis to receive brutal therapies? If treatment does not make a difference, should women even be told they have the condition?

……The stakes in this debate are high. Karuna Jaggar, executive director of Breast Cancer Action, an education and activist organization, said women tended not to appreciate the harms of overtreatment and often overestimated their risk of dying of cancer, making them react with terror.

“Treatment comes with short- and long-term impacts,” Ms. Jaggar said, noting that women who get cancer treatment are less likely to be employed several years later and tend to earn less than before. There are emotional tolls and strains on relationships. And there can be complications from breast cancer surgery, including lymphedema, a permanent pooling of lymphatic fluid in the arm.

“These are not theoretical harms,” Ms. Jaggar said

Ok I was not stage “0”. I was stage 2, yet still considered “early” . Once I got my diagnosis I wanted this stuff out of my body. I could no more have lived with this in my body at any stage. 

Studies like this or like the studies that say women don’t really need that many mammograms or Pap smears are irresponsible to women’s’ health initiatives . Studies like this terrify me, because they are an excuse for the insurance companies to run with denying women treatment. Can you imagine being told you have an early stage cancerous tumor and being told by your doctors as a result to wait yet you want it out ? Or being told as a result by your insurance company that having a tumor removed is an elective surgery so they won’t cover the surgery or treatment after? Isn’t this just another way of removing a woman’s right to choose?

 And that is the reality of the world in which we live in the United States: you have to fight for everything with your insurance company. They will give in on certain areas not given on others. If you have anything that resembles a robotic or laparoscopic surgery they expect you to jump off the operating table and run out of the door. You get treated for breast cancer, yet they won’t pay for the creams with your proven to alleviate pain and discomfort during radiation. You have to fight to get tests like bilateral breast MRIs. (As if anyone’s going to put themselves into a noisy whirring coffin because they have nothing better to do .)

I agree with some aspects of the article concerning reduced employment, earning less money, and emotional tolls and strains, and even lymphedema. I have at different times experiencd all of the above except for the lymphedema post breast cancer. But again, I could have not have ignored this. I can’t imagine being told you have any stage of breast cancer and then being told just to sit with it in your body and watch it. 

Some people opt against any form of cancer treatment. Some people opt for the surgeries but then don’t want radiation or breast cancer medicinal therapies (like Tamoxifen or aromatese inhibitors). But I have never met a woman that undergoes any form of breast cancer treatment willy-nilly. So to put out a study that says “let’s wait and see” terrifies me. Again it is potentially removing our rights to choose.

Breast-cancer strikes at the very core of your femininity. That is very true.     There are a lot of days where to say I feel unlovely and betrayed by my own body are an understatement. But I am alive. And I do not feel I would have been in an overall positive life position had I ignored my lump and my doctors said it was nothing to worry about.

Breast cancer changes everything, but the changes aren’t all bad. In a weird way it was so good for me because it freed me to literally live my life better. But if I had to do it all over again I would do it the same. And I definitely would not ever have adopted the attitude of “wait and see”, or been satisfied with doctors who adopted that attitude.

I really wish they would spend more money on study that found a cure or improved treatment, not basically fund studies to give insurance companies and hospital systems an excuse not to treat women with breast cancer. Because at the end of the day that’s what  the study says to me. I also do not care for the way the New York Times in a sense seems to support this position. I almost wondered a first if this was an article or an opinion essay.

Thanks for stopping by.

About carla

Writer, blogger, photographer, breast cancer survivor. I write about whatever strikes my fancy as I meander through life.
This entry was posted in breast cancer, health insurance and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to not so subliminal message to ignore breast cancer?

  1. I agree. Seems like all these studies are just what the insurance companies want to hear.

  2. I love your blog and your story. Working in the healthcare field and having a husband who is a cancer survivor, I have seen both sides. In the light of patient centered medical home, you would think that everyone would want more proactive, involved patients. I invite you to follow me at

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s