The Grinch Steals Cancer

Evidently October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Save the Ta-Tas.  Save A Life — Grope Your Wife.  Kiss a Survivor Today – but be careful who.  And where.

Overall, who would be against something that raises barge loads of dollars for cancer research, care, and cure?  With the possible exception of Extreme Capitalist Oncologists whose livelihood would be threatened – not that I know of any, but given today’s maniacal political culture, I see the potential for these.  But I stray.

During lunch the other day with a famous (ex-) blogger I expressed my discomfort with the word “survivor” to describe cancer patients.  He sent me this article, written by an oncologist treated for breast cancer, which thoroughly states the case, and also provides some historical background.  My instinct is based primarily on linguistic grounds: one “survives” something only when that something comes to an end, and the survivor doesn’t.  You can survive a war, a bad haircut, the Great Recession, a heart attack, and bad beer.  But you haven’t survived breast cancer until something else kills you.

Guido is about 4 years out following her breast cancer surgery.  At 5 years she’s considered no longer at serious risk of recurrence, and goes off medication.  Some call her (even now) a survivor.  I call bullshit.  She’ll be a “survivor” when something else does her in, like listening to NPR’s Diane Rehm’s voice, or her miserable marriage.

Fortunately, so far nobody has labeled me a survivor to my face, but anybody who does will get a lecture.   I don’t know for certain that my prostate gland is now cancer-free, let alone its status in 5 – 10 years, assuming I live that long (see marriage remark, above).  I’ll be a cancer “survivor” only when my cause of death is determined to be something else, like watching the best Phillies team in 128 years blow the 2010 post season.  Or the enraged guy who gets my “Don’t call me a survivor” lecture and cuts my throat.  Until then, I – and Guido, and millions of others – might be called “Endurers.”

My other peeve is those damn ribbons.  Cancer isn’t pink, goddammit.   Guido assures me that pink is only for breast cancer – see this site for all sorts of other horrors associated with colors — but it galls me nonetheless to see football players wearing pink spikes, and the Sunday comics in all-pink wash.  And then there’s the corporate rip-off, where products featuring pink ribbons as part of their marketing have nothing to do with funding cancer research.  Pink is the color of hives, babies, and old women.  Pink makes me itch.  Cancer makes me die.

The color associated with prostate cancer is light blue.  WTF?  Totally fem and inappropriate.  Shouldn’t it be the rich tones of urine or splooge laced with blood?  As for Tourette’s Syndrome (green), why a ribbon at all?  How about the letter F?  Or a duck?

I think I just excommunicated my marketing career to the toilet.

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13 Responses to The Grinch Steals Cancer

  1. Yono Senada says:

    Guido does not have a miserable marriage. She would never be an “endurer” of one. She’s too damn strong a woman to put up with your occasional walks off the reservation. That lady loves you. BTW, I agree, I can’t stand PINK and the commercialization is way overboard or as they say in German ober-BORED.

  2. Jim Eisenreich says:

    Fuck That crack Quack about Tourette’s Syndrome is Quack wholly inappropriate Quack Fuck Fuck Quack Quack!.

  3. Barbara Ganoush says:

    That was a great article by Elaine Schattner about “survivors,” and she’s right, as are you.

    “Endurers” might be a better term, but for marketing purposes, it’s not as catchy. If that’s what it takes to raise $$ to beat cancer, let’s go with it.

  4. Human Buffet says:

    Yeah and where exactly should you WEAR that prostate cancer ribbon?

  5. Mr Schwinnckle says:

    Color for Prostate Cancer should be shit brown! Oh and by the way Pussy is Pink too the last time I saw it. Years ago there was a T Bucket painted pink at a car show. Yes, Pink, the guy had his car and his wife had the pink T Bucket. Well it got sold and I asked the new owner where did that color come from. Looked like the old Panther Pink that was on Mopars. He said “well, I spread my girlfriends legs and then spread them wider, then a little wider, and then she yelled ouch, that it hurt. He said, then I looked, and said, yep, thats the color I want the car painted.” That was about 1990, and I called Bullshit then and even now on it. But he thought it sounded good at the time.

    I know, I know, men are such pigs. Oh, pigs are pink too!

  6. Ted End says:

    Speaking of survivors, how come you didn’t have anything to say about those underage South Americans that wer rescued today?

  7. Moose and Squirrel says:

    Wait, go back. What do you mean, “famous EX-blogger?” That blog is gone, but isn’t he still posting at the Heat Lightning?

  8. alesh says:

    fwiw, there’s another sense in which the word survivor gets used – one who has repeatedly survived situations that had reasonable prospect of killing them. i guess the only thing notable about this is that it’s ripe for sarcastic appropriation … “i survived lunch at burger king” etc.

    the pink ribbons are more interesting… what is, generally, the benefit of advertising your “support of” or “awareness of” an issue or cause? pink lapel pins, yellow car magnets, “LIVE STRONG” rubber bracelets… i find all that shit off-putting without understand exactly why. isn’t the only way to “support a cause” to write a check? how does my wearing a pink ribbon actually help anyone? First of all, it’s not even “increasing awareness,” since you don’t know what the pink ribbon is for unless you’re already aware of the problem of breast cancer. But more to the point, how does “awareness” of breast cancer help anyone? I have an amnesty international tote bag, but I use it because it’s a good and functional fucking bag. (I also actually gave them money, though not much at all.)

    Truth be told, I’m sort of irked by “charitable contributions” to anything except world poverty. It seems all well and good to want to help the local symphony, cure cancer, and buy trumpets for the local elementary school’s band … but put against the suffering of the poorest billion people in the world these causes seem pretty trivial and myopic. Yes yes, “you can do both,” but it seems to me that the bulk of one’s charitable giving should be towards massive human suffering, and money you throw at other causes should come out of your beer budget.

    • Moose and Squirrel says:

      Well well speak of the devil.

      It’s pretty rare when big money is raised for something or somebody nobody heard of. The thinking behind all the horn-honking for breast cancer is, start a bandwagon rolling and people get behind it. A bracelet or a ribbon by itself doesn’t raise money, but it reminds people of the cause, so when the situation arises when that cause is presented, maybe people are moved to support.

      Sure in an ideal world we wouldn’t need this. Or even a cartoon world. But in THIS world?

  9. guido says:

    I don’t know if there are any cancers that are truly curable. In 1 year I’ll be off the meds & I can’t wait; like Squatty I hate anything other than recreational drugs. But I guarantee I will hold my breath with every mammogram I get on the breast I have left. I usually think of myself as lucky but that said I think a much better term for anyone who’s had a run in with cancer would be lifer.

  10. Gina says:

    I may kiss a breast cancer survivor today. My mom is a cancer survivor.

  11. Akum says:

    Cancer can be cured. Cervical and breast cancers are the most common cancer for African women.

    • Squathole says:

      Thanks for the Yuletide spam, “Akum.” Rather demonstrates my point, above, about the crass commercialization of the disease . “Cancer can be cured” — a vapid statement and an empty slogan, right up there with “Winston tastes good like a cigarette should.”

      Ditto your alter ego “Gina,” who doesn’t even bother to read, let alone address, the comments about use of the word “survivor.”

      A perfect combo for the Christmas season: ignorance, insensitivity, commercialism. Thanks for stopping by.

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