A Commentary on a Recent ACS’s “Making Strides” Video
I want to begin this post by saying I do support the work of the American Cancer Society. I really do. I’ve donated to them for years. I had direct contact with them during my breast cancer treatment. I’m grateful for the wonderful work they do day in and day out.
The intent of this post is not to discredit their work.
I’m merely questioning the messages possibly being given by one particular video.
I believe in questioning.
Keeping all of this in mind, after recently watching a particular video put out by the American Cancer Society as part of their “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer” campaign, I felt uncomfortable. I decided to share my thoughts about why it made me feel this way.
As always, I’m genuinely interested in your opinions, so I hope you’ll read, watch and then share your thoughts if you’re so inclined.
Click here or on the image to view the video.
I don’t know about you, but as I said, after I watched this video I felt uncomfortable. I watched it again and felt the same way.
Why does it make me feel uncomfortable?
First of all, the entire premise of this video, much of which is shot at chest level for effect, focusing on breasts not faces or lives, feels off to me – way off.
In addition, if you take time to read the message beside the video, it says this:
“We’re putting the focus on what ‘Making Strides’ events are all about – breasts.”
Seriously, it’s all about breasts?
And telling viewers of the video in a half-joking manner, “It’s okay to look at our chests,” not our faces, doesn’t sit well with me either.
I realize this is supposed to be some sort of tongue-in-cheek humor, but I don’t find it amusing.
I also realize many will think I need to lighten up here, but when I see all the absurdities surrounding certain breast cancer awareness campaigns, in fact the blatant sexism that exists, a person’s patience wears thin sometimes.
As I mentioned in the previous post, if you look around in October, sometimes it seems like Breast Awareness Month, not Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Simply put, I expect better from the American Cancer Society.
I also wonder about the “breast cancer can be defeated” statement that is somewhat loosely put out there in this video. Susan, a six-year breast cancer survivor states quite emphatically at the end of the video:
“…I’m a six-year breast cancer survivor and I am living proof that breast cancer can be defeated.”
I’m pleased for Susan and her continued good health. However, after a breast cancer diagnosis, “my cancer was defeated” is a phrase generally not tossed around much.
There is no cure for breast cancer; therefore, you never really know for sure if you’ve defeated it.
Is this merely semantics?
Perhaps, but again, I expect better from the American Cancer Society.
In addition, the implied message that a mammogram is what will enable you to “defeat” cancer is misleading.
I certainly believe women should be getting regular mammograms beginning at whatever age she and her doctor determine is best.
However, mammograms are not the same as prevention. Mammograms are not infallible. A mammogram is an imperfect tool at best.
Even if you are diagnosed at an early stage; even if you have had regular mammograms, your cancer can still metastasize even years later.
Breast cancer can and does metastasize in 25-30% of cases.
And some women are initially diagnosed at stage IV, despite being diligent about their mammograms.
Although of course it’s far better to detect breast cancer early, this is not a guarantee that you have defeated it, which is what this video seems to too simplistically imply. Early detection does not equal cure. It’s not quite that simple.
There’s nothing simple about breast cancer, or any cancer.
That’s why this video, in my opinion, though well-intended, borders on being irresponsible.
We need to be very mindful of how things are stated and how images are portrayed regarding breast cancer information.
This is especially important when the one providing the information is The American Cancer Society.
I expect better.
What is your reaction to this video?
Do you think the message is too simplistic or in any way offensive?