An important part of blogging and advocacy work is not only writing about things when they are troubling, but also reporting back when good things happen. Today I’m pleased to report that the offensive cancer billboard has been taken down, or more accurately; the offensive message has been swapped out.
It turns out there were three billboards in my immediate area with the offensive (to me) message. I’ve been told the lease expired on one billboard, so obviously the offensive message on it expired as well. The other two billboards have been changed out, or rather the message has been, and I’ve been told another in a different region has been modified as well. Dear hubby and I did some billboard sleuthing over the weekend because I needed to see the actual new billboard message.
When I first saw the offensive billboard, I knew I had to write about it. I just knew it. (You can read the post I wrote about it here. It’s one of my most read posts ever). Some topics are hot button topics for me; a positive attitude beating cancer is one of them.
This does not mean I am not a positive person. This does not mean a positive attitude doesn’t matter. I just don’t believe it’s what determines if you will survive cancer or not and a gigantic billboard along a busy roadway implying such a thing was highly offensive to me and dear hubby too.
Most comments left on that post were very supportive. There were just a few who disagreed with me. Of course, I realize that most people who disagreed probably wouldn’t bother to comment.
I had a few in-person conversations with friends and relatives about that particular blog post too. A couple people mentioned they did not interpret the billboard’s message in the same way I did, which is fine. They perceived the message on the billboard to be an uplifting one. This is, of course, what Mayo Clinic Health System intended the message to be – one of encouragement, determination and survival.
This blog is where I share my views on many things, and I welcome comments on any side of an issue. I wrote about how the message made me feel. I don’t expect everyone to always agree with me, and I didn’t expect it here either. This is partly why it was such a pleasant surprise to see that so many of you did agree, or at least empathized. When our feelings are validated by others, it’s always appreciated.
When you see your loved one’s health spiral downward despite her efforts to do everything in her power to live, despite her positive attitude, your perspectives are altered on this positive attitude thing and perhaps on many other things as well.
When you’ve witnessed a loved one die from metastatic cancer, it changes you.
To put it bluntly, that original billboard message felt like a kick to my mother in her grave, and to others I care about who’ve died from metastatic cancer as well. Cancer language matters, especially when a major player in healthcare is “speaking it”.
This is why I feel so relieved to see the offensive message gone. I knew if I was offended, others probably were as well.
I am grateful to all of you who shared that post, tweeted about it, sent emails to Mayo, left comments, started conversations or just cared. This was an example of how social media does indeed have an impact. Mayo Clinic Health System contacted me and ultimately made the change because of you, my dear readers. Thank you.
However, I must also admit, I’m still troubled by the fact such a major player in healthcare could not foresee a reaction such as mine to the message in question.
How can this be?
I believe there are reasons for this oversight, but this post is not the time or the place.
This post is for expressing relief and gratitude.
Mayo Clinic Health System, you did the right thing.
Note: I invited Mayo Clinic Health System to share about the number of complaints they received, or to say something if they wished to. I did not hear back.
Have you ever seen a cancer ad that offended you and if so, why did it offend you?
How do you feel about the “new” ad below (bottom one)?