Writing at the intersection of motherhood, feminism and my Latinidad

24 August 2008

Kelly Bundy’s boobs

When news broke a few weeks ago of Christina Applegate's diagnosis of breast cancer it took my breath away. I grew up sneaking glimpses of "Married with Children." Oddly, my parents had no trouble with me watching daytime soaps and "Dallas" but "Married with Children" was forbidden. Anywho, Applegate is just a few years older than me and while I never identified with her character, it was a learning experience watching her go from awkward sex-pot to down-right funny lead in "Samantha Who?" So when I read that she had breast cancer, it blew me out of the water. It wasn't that I didn't know that breast cancer can happen to women at any age, but that is was her.


Last week I read the headline that she was now proudly cancer-free, I smiled…then almost broke into tears when I read the rest of the story. As a young woman with breast cancer in her family (her mom battled when Applegate was a teen), tested positive for the breast cancer gene, AND just had breast cancer, she opted for a double mastectomy. Now don't get me wrong, I do not blame her for her choice. I most likely would make the same choice. She commented about it with her usual irreverence, "I'll have the best boobs in the retirement home." It was another reminder that for the epitome of women's diseases the best choice for prevention and treatment is the amputation of two body parts.


Is this really the best our amazing medical community do for breast cancer? To have women, some healthy, some recovering, remove a body part?


Do we really under value women's breasts so much that the answer is to lob them off as if we are Amazons preparing for battle? Is the benefit from breastfeeding so peripheral that we would urge young women in child-bearing years to prevent breast cancer with mastectomies?


It is a sad statement of how medical science views the human body. Actually it doesn't view it at all. It only sees cancer, cancer cells and how to combat those and not how to cure and heal the entire human body. If they really saw us as human beings, perhaps cancer treatment wouldn't be so invasive, harmful, and draining of our energy & spirit. Perhaps we would be focusing more on preventative measures that didn't require women (do men prevent penile cancer by amputation?) to remove a part of their bodies. Perhaps we would have a way to kill those damn cancer cells without almost killing the human being as well.


I'm sure that Applegate will certainly have the perkiest boobs in the retirement home because she will live a long and hilarious life. I wish her well and every other woman dealing with this bitch of a disease. I also wish us all a more humane response to breast cancer.

6 comments:

I was watching some cheesy "boob job" show on some channel....goddess knows which one...but anyway....this young girl...about 15 had a double mast. because her mom died of breast cancer and she tested positive. When they reconstructed her after the removal (she was paying extra) they did a horrible job but this show was about how she was having them redone. I was just shocked that a girl at that young age would make that decision...it was very sad.

PS: I hate that I can't just leave my comment as my name and my website.

While I certainly do not pass judgement on Christina Applegate's decision for a double mastectomy - I think one of the real questions here is about the use of genetic markers for choice. Although the gene says she is pre-disposed to breast cancer - does that mean she would definitely get it? Not necessarily. If caught early can it be treated in a less invasive way? Absolutely.

I often wonder about the types of choices we make based on genetics. For instance, because I am over 35 and of Ashkenazi jewish descent, as is my husband, I opted for both genetic testing and for an amnio. While both came back negative, what would we have done if I had tested positive for one of the horrific diseases in the genetic testing? (Tay-Sachs, etc. etc.) Jay would have had to have been tested as well - and then, if he was positive as well - there is a 75 percent chance the baby would have one of these terrible diseases. Would I terminate the pregnancy? What if the amnio showed downs syndrome? What then?

I don't have the answer to the question - but I think sometimes we project a whole lot based on limited information and ultimately may damage our bodies, etc.

At the same time, the medical research community needs to find a better way to prevent, detect and treat.

That's all. Sorry for the soapbox. Glad you are back! E was very excited to see us this morning!

D

The only treatment for testicular cancer is radical inguinal orchiectomy, the treatment is apply even if there is no cancer. So there is no biopsy to be sure of cancer. If cancer is suspected the operation is performed and the testicle is removed. That is far wore that the other case (almost only way to diagnostic)
http://www.webmd.com/cancer/radical-inguinal-orchiectomy-for-testicular-cancer#zr1030

It cut of sorry.. So, as you say before the classic punch of medics as insensitive to women needs, it is more general than that. The difference with penile cancer treatment is obvious. My best friend boyfriend undergone the operation. He is using testosterone patches. He is ok. She is a psychologist.

Avida...holy shit! I knew that there was removal for cancer, but not just to even see if there is some. Humane cancer treatments for all! Even the boys.