Waste Of Time

So I went for my annual checkup last Wednesday, and caused the usual response from Dr. Whatsit: “Bugger off and stop wasting my time; I have sick people to look after.” (Oh, and I’d lost nearly ten pounds avoirdupois since my last check-up — most, I suspect, since I returned from Britishland and stopped consuming all those pies, fish & chips, Turkish Delight and Wadworth 6X.) But that’s not the topic of this post.

All the staff were wearing pink instead of their normal blue scrubs, so of course I had to ask the (stupid) question: “Why are you all wearing pink?” and met with the obvious response: “To raise awareness of breast cancer.”

FFS: is there a sentient human being living on this planet who isn’t aware of breast cancer?

The PGA golfers (male and female) wore those silly little lapel ribbons; the NFL players, back before they became unpatriotic little shits, also wore them; and the entire South African (male) cricket team wore all-pink uniforms during an international competition a couple years back. It looked like a Mary fucking Kay convention with cricket bats and helmets, not to mention gay.

By now, I think that if you wanted to raise awareness of breast cancer, you’d have to charter a skywriting aircraft to fly over the jungles of Borneo or the Amazon, because those poor ignorant savages don’t play golf or watch football and probably don’t know the first thing about cricket (thus joining 99% of Americans, but that’s a topic for another time).

What Americans do know a great deal about is breast cancer — but basically, that awareness is worth exactly diddly, because as with so much doubleplus feel-goody bullshit, you can’t do anything with that information — other than to give money to the American Cancer Society, which already has more money than the average Central European nation, but which always seems to need more for… what, exactly? It’s not like the ACS owns cancer hospitals (like the Shriners); no, it seems as though the ACS needs more money to “make people aware” of a disease which everybody fucking knows about already. So basically, raising awareness really means “raising money”. I don’t have a problem with this, I just want people to be honest about their motives.

Oh, and get this: death rates from breast cancer are down 39% since 1989 (from the ACS website, no less). No doubt it’s because of increased awareness of cancer, not vastly improved medications and treatment. (And yes, I know the ACS funds research into the thing — I just think that they could fund even more if they stopped all these timewasting “awareness” drives.)

Cancer is a horrible, lousy, terrible disease. We all know this — some of us, like me, from first-hand or immediate second-hand experience of it — and honestly, I think we can stop with the childish pink ribbons and such because we run the risk of trivializing it.

And by the way: death rates from breast cancer among women are about 21.2 per 100,000.

For men, the death rate from prostate cancer is about 20.1 per 100,000 — statistically about the same as female breast cancer — yet I’ll bet that more people are “aware” of breast cancer than of prostate cancer. I wonder why that is?


  1. My sentiments exactly.

    The difference, of course, is that breast cancer is a politically correct disease while prostrate cancer is not.

    Any cancer is horrible.

    PS: I wonder if any of those guys on the cricket team dissented from having to wear that stupid looking uniform. Several of those guys look distinctly unhappy.

  2. Nobody walks by a man and says, “look at the prostate on that guy.” Sir Peter Paul Rubens never painted a perfect prostate. I’m guessing the disparity in awareness is related to the same reason you’ve never posted a picture of a prostate. That doesn’t justify the disparity but maybe it explains it.

  3. ” . . .yet I’ll bet that more people are “aware” of breast cancer than of prostate cancer. I wonder why that is?”

    The “Wear An Exam Glove For Prostate Cancer Awareness Month” campaign was pretty much a flop, for one thing.

  4. > FFS: is there a sentient human being living on this planet who isn’t aware of breast cancer?

    Pedant alert!

    I don’t care about the sentient humans. I care about the sapient humans.

    And when do we get the brown ribbon for prostate cancer?

    1. Mr. B’,
      After lo these many years on this planet, I’ve pretty much given up on “sapient”. Let’s just aim for “sentient”…

  5. We want to “Raise awareness” about [our cause du jour]
    Translation: We want you to spend your money and/or time to do something about a thing we have feeeeeelings about but are too self important and lazy to actually work on ourselves, and help us feel virtuous while we have fun at the fund raiser/walk/bike ride/foot race/fashion show ad barfium.

  6. As I shared with Kim a while back my prostate cancer awareness message to guys is “get yourself checked”. If nothing else do a PSA blood test every year. That’s how the doc caught me and I’m glad that he did. The physical exam is awkward (or maybe fun depending on what side of the plate you bat from) and should a biopsy be necessary – well that absolutely sucks. Did that monster affect my life? Absolutely. Even so its good to be around on the other side of it all.

  7. This reminds me of a comedian I heard years ago. Somebody tried to get him to wear a red ribbon for “Aids awareness”. His comment was: who today is NOT ‘aware’ of AIDS? “I saw two dogs screwing and the male was wearing a condom”

  8. “awareness campaign” just means “give us money to buy new cars and build new offices”.
    “research program” generally means lunch break in expensive restaurant.
    “fact finding tour” means “tropical vacation for our senior staff and their families and aides”.

    The bulk of money donated to so-called “charities” is wasted, not spent on whatever it is they’re supposedly trying to help with/against.
    For many such organisations, that’s over 90% graft, for some it’s close to 100%. Smaller ones with very limited local goals excluded, those are usually run by people with a direct personal interest in whatever they’re raising money for rather than by industrial scale money laundering firms with no other real agenda than to enrich their own senior staff.

    My mother died of a common, easily treatable (if found early enough), form of cancer.
    She died because it went misdiagnosed for over a year despite her being in hospital 3 times a week for dialysis (with blood work being done each time) for all that year.
    Where’s the money for “cancer awareness” gone that should have trained those nurses, doctors, and lab techs to recognise the symptoms and signs?

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