About a month ago, I ran across this article somewhere on the interwebs: Yes, I’ve Heard of Kale. While I’ve heard this rant before from the perspective of a young adult cancer survivor, this particular article is awesome. It is complete, attacks the issue from multiple sides, and my very favorite part of all, gives a well-deserved nod to the magic of knowing some introductory stats 101 when talking about this very subject. There are seriously so many gems of wisdom and perspective in this piece. So many helpful chunks of “stop blaming the victim” and many references to the importance of understanding statistics and the power of scientific citations.
The author, Marisa, says, “Think ‘prevention’ vs. ‘minimizing risks’ is just semantics? It’s not.” You’re damn right it’s not! Goodness gracious, if I had a dollar for every time I need to explain this to someone who wants to know why I didn’t do x, y, or z instead of chemo, I’d be rich. She later adds, “I am also aware that for some people, comments like these on some level stem from their own fears about cancer, disease, and their own mortality. Cancer is scary. Dying is scary. So if cancer happens because people do or don’t do the “right” things, then you can make it so it won’t ever happen to you.” Nail hit on the head. So many of the inappropriate things said to cancer survivors stems from this very fact of human nature.
The kicker of the article though? Marisa is analyzing why she might have gotten cancer and says, “why did I get breast cancer while most women around my age have not, including many women who do not exercise as much as me or who eat less healthily than me? The answer probably lies in a swirl of genetics, environmental and other exposures, and random error / bad luck. And that makes the major conclusions and implications of many of these “prevention” articles and “What the Health” type movies seem a bit simplistic and unfair (and in some cases, irresponsible and potentially dangerous – like the scene in “What the Health” that implies that cancer can be cured simply by shifting to a plant-based diet after diagnosis. I would bet large amounts of money that if I had foregone chemotherapy in favor of simply pursuing a plant-based diet that I would be dead today).” Ding, ding, ding!
Great read. Worth the time to get all the way to the end.