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.