This blog chronicles my life as I try to balance healthy lifestyle habits with my husband's penchant for pizza rolls and my daughter's desire to watch iCarly 8 hours a day. It contains a mostly humorous, kind, and somewhat spiritual look at everyday life and the people who live it.
Monday, July 20, 2009
Shouldn't we "Race To Prevent?"
I have done them all. I believed in them. Walking, wearing the T-shirt, organizing the Brownie troops to get out and support the event I felt virtuous, I really did. What changed?
I know what changed: I began to notice that everyone was focusing on a cure, new drug therapies, new surgical techniques, and improved hospital stays. Why were we accepting that you had to get the disease at all? Why is it okay to go through the pain and terror of the diagnosis as long as there is reasonable hope the "cure" will work? I can define prevention with no problem, but how is "cure" being defined? Is radical, invasive surgery a "cure"? Is taking toxic medications that cause your hair to fall out and your stomach to heave a "cure"? I know, I know, it's my Pink Ribbon Rant all over again.
I am stepping up onto my soap box now, so hold on to your hats:
I have been there. I have been told "you have a tumor. It appears inoperable. The MRI dye is lighting up showing what could be cancer but we won't know for sure until we run more tests. This is very serious." I know the sheer terror that accompanies the diagnosis. I know the agony of gauging how soon the tumor will kill you versus how dangerous the surgical procedure. I can attest firsthand to the misery of lying in an intensive care unit while mysterious and scary-sounding drugs are fed intraveneously into your body. The fear of post-surgical infection, fever, or swelling. I had to sign a paper that said that I understood that the surgery I was about to have carried a high risk of stroke, coma, or death, and that I still gave the hospital permission to proceed. I have kissed my only child goodnight knowing that it may be the last time I ever see her, yet not knowing any other option. I have climbed up onto an operating table while a team of nurses prepared the bone saw and head clamp that would be needed to access my brain. I have been there and I wouldn't wish those experiences on anyone else -- ever. Yet many would clap me on the back and say "Yes, but you're cured!" Aside from the $28,000 my insurance company paid for the surgery, what was the cost?
So now I find myself angry. I am angry that hundreds of thousands of dollars are raised by extremely hard-working, well-meaning, altruistic people so that a cure may be found for xxxx (insert your disease of choice here) while companies who know better put forth no money for prevention. I am angry that companies can sponsor various walk-a-thons and fundraisers while knowingly putting carcinogens in their products. I am angry that our society does not force these companies to help us keep our bodies and planet healthy. I am angry that pesticides, food additives and preservatives, air pollutants, insecticides, and dangerous drugs are accepted as part of life in the United States yet billions of dollars is spent trying to "cure" the diseases these things cause.
I cannot be complacent. It is not okay for only the rich to have access to organic foods, clothing, and bedding. It is not okay for our food to be irradiated so that later our tumors can be radiated. It is not okay for our children to be given mercury in their vaccines and filled in their teeth. It is not okay for our foods to be laden with antibiotics and hormones while our children suffer from antibiotic-resistant strep, our boys are sterile, and our girls menstruate at age 7.
Do not fool yourselves folks, you are involved in a race: as long as the assumption is that we must be reactive and not proactive we are all racing toward one disease or another. Am I being gloomy? A doom-sayer? Melodramatic? I probably am. I am passionate about this subject and passion usually invites hyperbole.
Then again, I'm the one who saw the bone saw...