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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: gayle sulik, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 5 of 5
1. The marriage of lobbying and charitable efforts

By Gayle Sulik Telecom giant AT&T is currently proposing a $39 billion buyout of T-Mobile. The purchase, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ), would have negative implications for the telecommunications market, so much so that the DOJ filed a civil antitrust lawsuit on August 31st to block the proposed acquisition, stating that it would “substantially lessen competition…resulting in higher prices, poorer quality services, fewer choices and fewer innovative products.” AT&T vowed to “vigorously contest” the matter. In addition to hiring 99 lobbyists and spending $11.7 million

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2. Factoids & impressions from breast cancer awareness ads

By Gayle Sulik One might assume that anything involving breast cancer awareness would be based on the best available evidence. Unfortunately, this assumption would be wrong. I’ve evaluated hundreds of campaigns, advertisements, websites, educational brochures, and other sundry materials related to breast cancer awareness only to find information that is inaccurate, incomplete, irrelevant, or out of context. We could spend the whole year analyzing them. For now, consider a print advertisement for mammograms by CENTRA Mammography Services.

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3. Re-learning the lessons from Elizabeth Edwards’ death

On medical progress and stage 4 breast cancer

By Gayle A. Sulik


Elizabeth Edwards died from stage 4 breast cancer (also known as metastatic breast cancer) on December 7th, 2010 at the age of 61. Ms. Edwards was a well-known public figure, notably the wife of former Senator John Edwards, and an accomplished lawyer, author, and health advocate. Her death inspired new discussions of Stage 4 breast cancer, finally shining a light on what has been a relatively invisible segment of the breast cancer community: the diagnosed who live from scan to scan, treatment to treatment, with the knowledge that neither medical progress nor positive attitude will likely keep them from dying from breast cancer.

Following Ms. Edwards’ breast cancer diagnosis in 2004, she quickly became a celebrity survivor. She expressed optimism about cure and continued to pursue an active personal and professional life. After learning in 2007 that she had a recurrence which had already spread to her bones, Ms. Edwards still looked for a “silver lining” despite the fact that her breast cancer was no longer considered to be curable. At that point, doctors called her breast cancer “treatable” – meaning that she would be in some kind of therapy for the rest of her life.

Ms. Edwards knew that she might not live to see her children grow up. Yet  public discussions were hesitant to acknowledge this reality. I remember the PBS news report that featured clips from a press conference in which Edwards’ medical doctor, Lisa Carey of the University of North Carolina Breast Center, stated that many women with stage 4 breast cancer “do very well for a number of years.”

In the interview that followed with Dr. Julie Gralow of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, the discussion of prognosis was similarly vague. Dr. Gralow rightly revealed that doctors have “no crystal ball” to see the future and that average survival rates cannot be used to predict an individual’s life span. However, she also circumvented the prognosis issue by using phrases such as “years of survival” and living out “long lives.” We heard about “terrific new therapies,” “great treatments…that don’t cause a lot of symptoms,” and and a new “era of personalized cancer therapy.” Dr. Gralow stressed that Ms. Edwards gives hope to those who are fighting metastatic breast cancer and that “her biggest issue is that she has a couple of young kids to raise.”

Immediately following Ms. Edwards’ death, Dr. Barron Lerner wrote a warm, thoughtful, and informative essay in The New York Times about the lessons society can learn from Ms. Edwards, including the limits of current treatments and the dubiousness of the term “survivor” that, while empowering in some ways can be misleading in others. For the 49,000 new people each year who develop what amounts to be a

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4. Boobies, for fun & profit!

By Gayle Sulik

A blogger who goes by the name of The Accidental Amazon recently asked: “When did breast cancer awareness become more focused on our breasts than on cancer? Is it because our culture is so obsessed with breasts that it slides right past the C word?”

The Amazon’s questions are important — but they are inconvenient; blasphemous to the pink consumption machine, disruptive to the strong societal focus on pink entertainment, and anti-climactic for the feel-good festivities that have swallowed up popularized versions of breast cancer awareness and advocacy. Her questions are sobering — but sobriety is the last thing that a society drunk on pink wants. We’ve been binging on boobies campaigns and pink M&Ms for too long, and we’ve grown accustomed to the buzz.

After a federal judge in Pennsylvania declared that the “I ♥ Boobies!” bracelets worn in schools represented free speech protected under the 1st Amendment, an interesting debate broke out about language as well as the legitimacy and usefulness of the boobies campaigns. The judicial system, focusing on the former, upheld the tradition that people are free to express themselves unless what they communicate is lewd or vulgar. To them, “boobies” did not fit this category because they were worn in the context of breast cancer “awareness.”

Much of the ongoing debate, and I use this term loosely, has been about discerning whether the Pennsylvania judgment was sound. Is “boobies” an offensive word when used on bracelets or t-shirts in schools? For the most part the discussion has been a polarized virtual shouting match about prudishness versus progressiveness. The commentary quickly “slid right past the C word” to focus on the B word. Boobies is far more titillating to the public than CANCER.

And why not? Sex sells. Playboy, Hooters, Pin-Up girls, pink-up girls. What’s the difference? Women’s sexiness is for sale to the highest bidder, or for $4.99. We’re not too fussy. It’s all about “the girls” getting attention from the boys. Of course, the undercurrent remains that all this nonsense really is about breast cancer. Boys wrote on facebook pages and in editorial posts that they “LOVE BOOBIES” and – in the spirit of breast exam – they’d love to “feel your boobies for you.” Some snickered at anyone who expressed concern about the accuracy of the campaigns, the fact that they diverted money from more useful endeavors such as research, or that they focused on women’s breasts to the exclusion of women’s lives. “Get a life,” one boy said. “Don’t be so angry,” chimed another. Women and men alike chided those who felt differently. After all, who are we to rain on the happy boobies parades?

Peggy Orenstein has tried to place the issue in a larger context, that these “ubiquitous rubber bracelets” are part of a new trend called “ 0 Comments on Boobies, for fun & profit! as of 1/1/1900

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5. The Teal before the Pink: Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

By Gayle Sulik Some people don't even know that disease-specific ribbons besides pink exist. Nan Hart wrote on the discussion board of the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance (Sept. 19th) that after her daughter got a teal ribbon tattoo on her wrist, one of her daughter's coworkers asked why her breast cancer ribbon wasn't pink? Umm...Because it's not a breast cancer ribbon? The assumption that one ribbon

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