How Komen Must Change to Get My Support, Part 2

Here I go again. I want to say that I appreciate the comments made so far, both agreeing and disagreeing with me. You’ve helped me to really hone my arguments about why I don’t support Komen. You know, I have a friend who said she was harassed, to the point of having to call the police, by Komen supporters after she said negative things about Komen. So far, nobody’s stalking me, thank goodness…or at least not that I know of. It’ll be easy enough to find me on October 13 at 11:00 on the west lawn of the US Capitol if you ARE stalking me! 

Now it’s time to talk about Komen’s funding of research. This will be long and a little complicated, but try to hang in with me, because this is important. 

A lot of folks don’t understand how Komen is organized and how their funding and expenditures work, so let’s talk a bit about it, shall we? Komen is run kind of like McDonalds. The local chapters of Komen are a lot like franchisees, the way a person who owns a local Mickey D’s is a franchisee. The locals run the local events and put money into the local community, the way a McDonalds franchisee runs their own store and hires their own staff. But the locals have to send 25% of the money they raise to the national organization, the way your local McDonald’s store makes money for the McDonalds corporation. 

Now, the locals do a lot of good in their local communities. They pay for mammograms and help people get to treatment and stuff like that. And that’s good. But what they almost never do is fund research, which is the only thing that’s going to turn a metastatic diagnosis from a death sentence to a life sentence. The reason they don’t is that you need a scientific review committee to review grant proposals to decide where the research dollars should go, and the national organization has that committee. Which means this: of the dollars raised in Komen’s name through local events, it’s pretty much just the 25% of those dollars that are even eligible to go towards research. Now, once that 25% goes to the national, it’s combined with what the national itself is able to fundraise. They get big donations from corporations, and they have income from investments.

So, how much of the total money raised by the locals and nationsals goes to research, which is the only thing that will save my life? Well, according to Komen’s most recent audited financial statement, all of Komen, both national and local, spent $305 million in the fiscal year ending March 2014. $43 million of that total went to research. That’s 14% of their total expenditures. In comparison, Komen spent almost three times that amount on “public health education.” And they spent $17 million more on administrative costs than they did on research.

Now, some folks commented on my last post with a link to the Snopes article about Komen, noting that it says people who complain about Komen’s lack of research funding just misunderstand Komen’s mission, and that most health organizations like Komen don’t have research as a focus. But I’d argue that it’s not that we don’t understand this reality–it’s that we want that reality to change. I believe that an organization that says its goal is to end breast cancer should be spending its money to do just that. And the only way to end breast cancer, including breast cancer deaths, is through research.

Which brings me back to what Komen would need to change to get my support: I want to see that 14% figure raised to at least 50%. This would require Komen to change the ratio of funding that locals send to the national, or to start requiring the locals to form scientific advisory committees so they can begin funding research in their communities, or to do what I think it should do: focus more of its existing national funding on research. 

I personally don’t have a problem with Komen spending money on treatment and other direct patient support, but the amount Komen spends on “education” that is focused on raising awareness of breast cancer is something that I believe could be better spent on research. Teaching women to get mammograms has barely made a dent in the death rate for breast cancer, but research has the potential to save lives. My life. My friends’ lives. I also believe the expense involved in many of their fundraising events is too high, and Komen should work to decrease those costs, so that money can be redirected to research. Until the balance between research and education is dramatically changed, I am unable to support Komen.

As always, I welcome your comments. And please stay tuned for Part 3!

How Komen Must Change to Get My Support, Part 1

Here I go, you guys. It’s time I explained in detail what’s wrong with Susan G Komen For The Cure, and what they’d need to do differently to get me to support them. This will be a series of posts, because I want to write comprehensively about each issue I’m raising. I’m ready for the angry responses from Komen supports, and from metsters who think I don’t go far enough. And I hope I’ll see responses from anyone who sees errors in the facts–I pledge to change anything that people find a documented source that contradicts what I’ve written. Alrighty, let’s get started: today’s post is about the Komen-driven narrative that trivializes breast cancer.

I’ve said many times that the narrative of our existing breast cancer awareness treats a breast cancer like a sorority. The hazing is treatment, and once that’s done, you get to join the sorority and attend its parties that feature pink feather boas and dance music and dogs wearing bras, and your life goes back to being just as awesome as it was before cancer, or maybe even better, because now you’re in the sorority. And no breast cancer organization has done more to promote this narrative than Komen. Just look at their marketing materials and their Twitter and Facebook feeds. 

A problem with this narrative is that it excludes many people who get breast cancer. For starters, there’s men. Yes, men get breast cancer–not as often as women, but they do, and they die from it just like we do. It’s extremely rare to see men with breast cancer in any Komen materials. In addition, until very recently, metastatic breast cancer, which is what killed Susan Komen, was only minimally included in Komen’s materials. I acknowledge that they have made some strides in this area over the past year–kudos to them for featuring my friend Mandi Hudson of Darn Good Lemonade, for example–and yet, the metastatic experience is still too often drowned out by the sea of sorority party photos. Women and men with metastatic disease stay in treatment/hazing for their entire lives, which are most often tragically too short; we don’t get to join the sorority party.

And even for those women whose cancer treatment DOES match with the no-recurrence narrative, the picture of everything being awesome once treatment is over may not be their experience at all. Take my friend Natasha from Strings of Clarity, for example. She had Stage I cancer, so she should be living the pink dream now, right? Wrong. She’s dealing with serious psychological and emotional effects from her treatment and from the experience of facing her own mortality at age 37. The “you just get over it and move on” thing is the exact opposite of her experience, and she’s not the only one.

Which brings up another difficulty with the Komen narrative: that breast cancer is about sexy fun, which is obviousy false. There’s nothing sexy about having a breast cut off, and there’s nothing fun about chemotherapy. Ignoring the reality of cancer treatment and the physical and psychological damage it leaves in its wake does not help people with breast cancer. And hiding that reality behind pink bras trivializes it. The narrative has led many to believe that breast cancer is an easy cancer, one that nobody dies of anymore, one that doesn’t come with lasting scars. The sense that breast cancer is no big deal harms people with breast cancer because it allows vital resources to spent on pink parties instead of on desperately needed research into better treatments.

I have a lot more to say about Komen and that desperately needed research, but for now I’m going to pause this conversation here. I welcome your thoughts on the issue of the narrative of trivialization in the comments.

All In The Family

Guess what, you guys? My mom got diagnosed with breast cancer. No, that’s not some kind of sick joke. I know I have a dark sense of humor, but not that dark. Although apparently the universe’s sense of humor IS that dark. Remember how I had genetic testing done and I was negative for ALL the gazillion genetic mutations linked to cancer that they tested me for? Uh huh. We’re actually just that unlucky in my family, and cancer is just that big of an asshole. You can’t even make this shit up.

So far, her cancer looks to be stage 2, no lymph involvement. Notice I didn’t say “only stage 2.” Because ALL CANCER FUCKING SUCKS. It’s not like chemo is less horrible when your tumor is smaller. I will say, though, that as someone whose mother died of metastatic melanoma, and whose daughter will die of metastatic breast cancer, and whose brother died of bladder cancer, I mean, you can imagine how freaked out my mom is, and my dad, and me, and my sister, and her sister. We all know what cancer looks like: it looks Not Good.

Still, one of the few silver linings to having a daughter who’s got terminal cancer…shit, I can’t even pretend like this is a silver lining, that’s absurd. One of the “well, at least this tiny part of it is marginally less awful” things about getting cancer when your daughter already has terminal cancer is that your daughter knows exactly what to do, and who to call. Which is why I’d like to take a moment now to write about my oncologist, and his staff. You guys, I’ve talked about him before and said how awesome he is, and if you follow me on Twitter, you’ll see me using the hashtag #bestdocever when I talk about him. All that praise is probably embarassing to him, but it will pale in comparison to the bragging about him that I’m about to do. Sorry/not sorry, #bestdocever.

When my mom told me she’d found a lump and they’d done a biopsy on it, I immediately texted my oncologist (yes, we text–what, you don’t text with your oncologist? You probably don’t hang out on the weekends with yours and his wife either, do you? Yeah, that’s a shame. Cough cough #bestdocever) and told him what was up and asked if he’d squeeze her in for an appointment if the biopsy came back positive. And of course he said he would. Then he texted to ask if she ended up needing a breast surgeon, who I’d want her to see, and I told him I’d want her to see the one who did my mastectomy, because I really liked her, and he said the scheduling would be tricky (it can be hard to get initial appointments quickly with her) but he’d use his influence to make it happen.

A few days later when the biopsy results came in, I called my oncologist’s office, told them the situation, and his awesome receptionist…hold on, because seriously, that word doesn’t even begin to explain what she does. She figures out billing questions, makes sure scans get scheduled, deals with scheduling snafus–she’s a goddamn genius. Anyway, when I talked to her at 3PM, she set up an appointment for my mom the very next day. No lie. And of course, while being amazingly efficient, she was also kind on the phone. It seems like a small thing, having an appointment scheduled quickly, having someone be kind on the phone. But when you’re in the midst of a shitshow like a new cancer diagnosis, it just means SO MUCH.

So, when we saw my…I mean OUR oncologist, he explained her cancer to her just as clearly as he’d explained mine to me, took the time to answer all her questions just like he does with me, and had already emailed the surgeon I’d seen to make sure my mom could get an appointment with her within a week. He’d also sent in a referral for a breast MRI. All of this less than 24 hours after we’d set up the appointment with him, and after having spent the previous night at the hospital with another patient until almost midnight.


How am I feeling about my mom getting cancer, you ask? I’m pissed–how much ridiculous trauma can one family go through?!?!–and scared. Although I know my mom is in good hands and that her prognosis is good, I mean, how can you NOT be scared when your mom gets cancer? I also know what’s in store for her, in a way that most people who haven’t been through cancer treatment don’t, and I wouldn’t wish cancer treatment on my worst enemy, let alone my mom. It’s going to suck for her, and I don’t want her to suffer. But she will, as everyone who goes through treatment does.

Sometimes people ask me why I’m so committed to getting more research done on metastatic breast cancer, knowing that I’m not likely to live long enough to benefit from it. Well that’s easy to answer now: because I don’t want my mom to die of breast cancer. I want her cancer to be gone and never come back, and if it does come back, I want there to be better treatments than just slash/burn/poison. I want her to be there when my kids get married, and maybe research will help make that happen. It’s always been personal for me, but it’s even more personal now.


I’ve been struggling to put on my brave face lately. Partly it’s the fatigue, which has gotten worse with every chemo cycle. I’m now on my fifth round of carboplatin/taxol; neither of these are easy drugs to tolerate, and together, they’re a kick in the gut. When I’m tired, I’m more emotional. It’s just harder to plow through this shitty existence with a smile on my face when I don’t have any energy.

But it’s not just that. I had another brain MRI a few weeks back, and there were three more spots on it. Too tiny to say for sure that they’re more mets, but that’s what I’m expecting the follow-up MRI will show early next month. Which means more gamma knife surgery, more chemo, more treatment. When I got the news about the MRI, I got drunk, and I emailed my oncologist and said “It all just feels so fucking futile.”

I think there is still a part of me, buried deep down, that hopes that I’ll live long enough for a cure to be found, or at least, for some treatment to come along that will make metastatic breast cancer truly chronic. Because, if I could stay alive that long, then all this suffering I’m doing wouldn’t be futile. It’d be a means to an end: staying alive long enough for a better treatment to come along. One that adds more than few months to my lifespan, and one that doesn’t come with the cost of spending days on end lying in bed because I’m too tired to do anything.

But then I have yet another scan that shows yet more progression, and it’s like that tiny little bit of hope gets punched in the gut, and it hurts. It really fucking hurts. And I wish it wasn’t there anymore. I wish I could just accept that this is my fate: to keep being tortured for another year, maybe two, and then to die. Maybe if that little bit of hope wasn’t still in there, it wouldn’t hurt so much every time I see more dots growing on my brain.

But that is the reality of how I’m living with my disease: to live with that tiny bit of hope, to never fully accept that this is all there is for me, and to keep getting punched in the gut over and over again as death inches closer. It’s not just the treatments that are brutal and exhausting. 

Luckily this is my last cycle of carbo/taxol for a while. After this, we’re switching to Xeloda, which is milder and hopefully won’t bottom me out so badly. I really hope so, because when I’m not so tired, hopefully I’ll be better able to pick up the pieces emotionally and keep pushing through this shitty thing I call a life. Because there’s another scan to face in a couple of weeks, and I need to brace myself for another punch in the gut.

Why Awareness is Stupid and Practically Pointless

October is coming. I hope it’ll be better this year with the big die-in on October 13, but it’s still gonna be a shitshow. I’ve been thinking a lot about why it drives me, personally, so insane, and I’ve come to a realization: it’s that awareness is stupid and practically pointless. Let me explain.

I feel like there’s a big difference between awareness campaigns and education campaigns. Education campains don’t just try to tell you some information; they also try to get you to do something. In the world of breast cancer, that includes getting people to go for routine breast cancer screening, ask their doctor about their breast density, and become familiar with their breasts so they notice when their breasts show symptoms of breast cancer. In short, there’s an ask explicit with education–it gives information that hopefully will lead people to take action.

Awareness, on the other hand, has no ask. It says, “Be aware that breast cancer exists!” It includes images of dogs wearing bras and pink ribbons on fireworks, because it’s not about educating people. It’s simply about making them aware that breast cancer is a thing. If all you want to do is to say “Hey you, there is a thing and it is called breast cancer” then yes, awareness is the right tool. But why in the fuck would you want to do that? What is the point of making sure people know that breast cancer exists? What does knowing it exists accomplish?

I can only think of one thing it accomplishes: some of it brings in money for breast cancer charities–but not all of it, because some of that awareness isn’t even related to charitable fundraising. Now, if all the money that awareness generates was being spent on education or patient support or research, then OK, I guess I’d feel OK about that. And there are many charities that are doing that, and I encourage you to donate to them. Unfortunately, there are too many (cough cough Komen cough cough) who aren’t. They’re spending it on more awareness. Which brings them more money, to be spent on more awareness.

This is why October drives me crazy: because all that awareness could be replaced with education, and then we’d really be getting somewhere. There are still too many people not getting the screening appropriate to their risk of breast cancer. There are still too many people who need to know what inflammatory breast cancer looks like. Imagine if awareness was converted from something stupid and practically pointless into something that actually DOES something. Wouldn’t that be so much better? Waste makes ne nuts. It just does. And seeing all these resources spent on awareness makes me want to stab a pen in my eye.

So, how about if we, as the breast cancer community, change the conversation from one of stupid and practically pointless awareness, to one of education? And maybe, just maybe, we can change the story for actual people with breast cancer.

Don’t you worry your pretty little head

I’m not gonna lie, I just drank some bourbon and I’m already wound up with the onslaught of pink when it isn’t even goddamn Labor Day (I am so sorry, childhood and gynecological cancer peeps, it sucks that Pinktober is eating your awareness month). So maybe this will be even more rangy than my usual feminist breast cancer rant, but I’m not even remotely sorry about that.

I am so fucking sick of the pink awareness machine convincing everyone, especially early stagers, that breast cancer is cured when treatment for early stage disease ends. We don’t know how many people who have early stage disease will later develop metastatic disease, but it may be as many as 36% within 12 years of ending treatment. However many it is, it’s TOO FUCKING MANY. And too many women who have early stage disease think they’re cured, when they are still at risk of developing metastatic disease. 

Why does this happen? I personally think it’s partly a gender issue, and partly a marketing issue. Let’s delve into the gender issue first.

It’s been a thing since time immemorial to treat women like they’re too fragile or stupid or incompetent or whatever to be handle the truth. We’re delicate flowers, you know, so if you tell us that something scary might happen, we’ll probably have some hysterical (did you know that word has the same root as hysterectomy? Because doctors thought our uteruses made us cray-cray) reaction and never recover. So the solution was, just don’t tell women what’s happening to them. 

What. The. Fuck. I mean, WHAT IN THE ACTUAL FUCK, amiright? Except we still do that now. We don’t tell early stagers that their cancer might metastasize because we don’t want to scare them. Why don’t we want to scare them? Is it because we worry their poor little female brains can’t handle it and they’ll start running through the streets screaming and pulling out our hair? For the love of pete, could you all please just stop infantalizing us for five minutes? Women have a right to know what can happen to their bodies. We are not pussies. We’re strong and powerful and we handle horrible shit all the fucking time.

Then there’s the’s the marketing thing. Take a look at practically any marketing for any cancer center, cancer charity, or cancer anything, and you’ll see it’s about selling hope. Hope for life, hope for a cure, hope for never having cancer come back. How can you convince people to hire a doctor or donate money if there’s no hope that they’ll be cured? I mean, if the marketing said “We’ll do our best but 1 in 4 of you will develop terminal breast cancer anyway” they’d never convince anybody to part with their hard-earned dollars, now would they? The truth can be mighty inconvenient, so it’s easier to just focus on hope.

The thing is, though, if women don’t know that their cancer could recur, they don’t know what signs to look out for. They don’t know that unexplained bone pain is something they should mention to their doctors, because it might be bone mets. They don’t know that that headache they just can’t shake should result in an MRI. They don’t know that the tamoxifen they’re on is really fucking important and if they stop taking it, they may be risking their lives. Because nobody told them the risks, because nobody wants them to worry their pretty little heads.

This shit is fucked up. Patients have a right to know that their cancer could come back, that it could become life-threatening. We should respect them enough to trust that they can manage their fears in the face of the facts. We should treat them as adults and tell them the truth. 

October Is Coming…but also in a good way!

I fucking hate Pinktober. It’s everything that is wrong with breast cancer culture. You can put pink on literally anything in the name of “breast cancer awareness” as though that actually saves any lives, and suddenly you’re not a fracking company, you’re a “corporate citizen.” A huge number of the pink ribbon products that appear EVERYWHERE in October give literally zero dollars to breast cancer causes, even awareness ones, and even less give money to actual research or patient support. For me, it’s like the whole world is rubbing it in my face that I’m going to die and becausehalf the country thinks they’re helping by buying pink shit, when they’re actually not. During Pinktober, I feel frustrated, angry, impotent, and full to the brim with grief, for my life being cut short, for the friends I’ve lost, for the friends I will lose.

But this year, October won’t just be a shitshow of making the rest of the world less frightened of a genuinely deadly disease. No, this year, us metsters aren’t going to just sit by and wish it was different. This year, we’re taking it to DC, and I want you to come with us. Yes you, person who has never had breast cancer, and you, person who had early stage disease and will always have a fear of recurrence in the back of your mind. All. Of. You. 

MET UP, an organization dedicated to saving the lives of people with metastatic breast cancer, is hosting a die-in on the west lawn of the US Capitol building, at 11AM on Tuesday, October 13. We’re hoping to have 1430 people there, from all walks of life, to represent the 1430 people who die every day of metastatic breast cancer around the world. We’ll gather at 11, and at noon we’ll lay down, in honor of the 1430 who will die that die, and read a eulogy to them. 

And then the leaders of our movement will sit down with Congressional staffers and ask them for 3 things. The first thing we want is increased funding for cancer research. The percentage of research proposals that get funded by NIH and other federal agencies has decreased substantially. It’s not that all those ideas that aren’t getting funded are bad ideas. It’s that we don’t have the money to pay for them. Which is why we need more money.  And we don’t want to fight with other types of cancer for money–we want more money for everyone. Treatment for metastatic breast cancer is equally as horrific as it is for metastatic lung cancer, metastatic pancreatic cancer, or any other terminal cancer. We’re all in this shitty situation together and we all need more research to save more lives and to make our lives better.

The second thing we want is for 30% of the breast cancer research funds that Congress appropriates to go to metastatic disease. Currently that figure is 7%, despite metastatic breast cancer accounting for nearly all breast cancer deaths. If we have any chance of changing metastatic breast cancer from a death sentence to a life sentence, and from a life sentence to a curable disease, then we need research dollars to go towards saving the lives of the people who are dying.

The third thing we want is for the National Cancer Institute’s SEER database, which tracks the incidence of cancers, to begin tracking when a patient has a metastatic recurrence. There has been a lot of debate (especially lately) about what percentage of people with early stage breast cancer will develop metastatic disease, and the reason there’s been debate about it is because we literally don’t keep track of that. Adding that datapoint to SEER would give us a picture of just how effective or ineffective early detection is, and would help us to better understand which types of breast cancer are more likely to metastasize. All of this helps with ensuring that researchers can focus their efforts where they’ll save the most lives.

Now, I said before that I want you to come to our event, AND I MEAN IT YOU BETTER BE THERE OR I’LL CRY AND CRY. But if you’re in treatment or otherwise can’t make the trip, then I’m going to suggest that you write to your member of Congress and ask them to support these three legislative goals. If you need a model letter that you can personalize, drop me an email at and I’ll send you one. I don’t often ask all of you for help, but I do often hear from you guys asking how you can. This is a way you can make a HUGE difference.

We’re asking everyone who’s planning to attend (my plane tickets are bought SQUEEEEEEEEE!!!) to let us know you’re coming at the link below. Or, if you’re not on Facebook, just shoot me an email or tweet at me or something.

Special bonus to anyone who’s stalking me: I promise to hug each and every one of you who comes to the event. (Unless you’re like my friend Jo, who isn’t a hugger.)

I don’t know if you can tell, but I’m super excited about this event, so spread the word that we’re taking October back and it’s gonna be AWESOME. I’ll see you all on October 13!

Why I hate pink ribbon culture

Did you notice it was some kind of dog-related holiday this week? Susan G. Komen For The Cure did. This is from their Twitter feed.

Know what I was doing on that dog day? This.

Here’s another one from the Komen twitter feed earlier this year.

Round about that time I was looking something like this, on my way to a blood transfusion.

Check it, I still I had eyebrows then! Ah, memories.

Here’s the thing, y’all: breast cancer is not some sorority where the treatment is the hazing and once it’s done, it’s all a party with giant bras and fake boobs on dogs. Cancer is a shitshow that leaves lasting scars. One of my closest friends had stage I breast cancer, and she’d be the first to tell you that although chemo and radiation are over, she’s not done with cancer. She lives with the scars and the pills and the emotional damage every day. And for those of us who are stage IV, the hazing of treatment only ends when we die. We never get to join the sorority.

All this pink shit, the bras and the feather boas? They trivialize a deadly disease. They make sport of our deaths. Actually, what they do is erase our deaths. Because if those dogs are what breast cancer is about, where do I fit into the picture, with my one breast? I’m being tortured so I can buy a little extra time with my kids before I leave them motherless. And I WILL leave them motherless, no matter how many dogs get put into bras. No amount of awareness will save my life.

The next time you see one of these things, I’d like you to register your dislike with the organization sharing it. And while you’re at it, demand that they spend more money on research, which is the only thing that will save my life and the lives of the other 150,000 Americans living with metastatic breast cancer.

Crazy Cancer Cures: Curry!

You guys! It’s time again for another in my series on Crazy Cancer Cures, where we discuss the many dumb ideas I’ve heard about alternative ways to cure my cancer. Today we’re going to talk about eating curry, or, more specifically, eating curry made with turmeric.

Confession: I’m not a huge fan of Indian food. I’m a white girl who grew up eating white people food, like potato salad and corned beef hash and other things with potatoes and fat in them (mmmmmm potato skins), and we all know I was a horrifically picky eater as a kid. It took me a looooooong time to develop a taste for anything remotely adventurous, and I still haven’t been able to wrap my brain around the incredibly complex flavors of Indian cuisine. I’m trying, because The Hubs loves Indian food, but he’ll tell you it’s still not my fave. He usually gets it when I’m out of town or out with friends.

So, I suppose some may take my dismissal of turmeric as a cure for cancer as proof of my food biases, but let me nip that in the bud: I hereby order you all to eat as much curry as you want. Right now. Go on, I’ll wait here until you’re done.

Back? Good. Now let’s talk about how that meal, though delicious, didn’t prevent you from getting cancer and didn’t cure your cancer if you already have it.

If you google turmeric and cancer, you’ll find a ton of articles claiming turmeric will cure or prevent cancer. Most of them come from natural foods websites, and are based on our old friend, the tiny bit of lab science that doesn’t have a relationship to actual dietary oncology. Cancer Research UK has a good rundown of the evidence, but let me sum up. 

If you put turmeric into cancer cells in a Petri dish, hey look, it slows the cancer’s growth! You know what else does that? Urine. Gonna drink some pee to try to prevent or treat your cancer? I thought not. There was also a mouse study 8 years ago that showed a slow in spread of cancer cells for mice given turmeric. Know how many mouse things work great on mice but not on humans? A fuckton. 

Here’s where the science gets in the way of the health food trend: what the science seems to have shown in human trials is that when you eat turmeric, hardly any of it makes it to your blood stream. So, if your cancer is limited to your gastric tract, then maybe the turmeric is being delivered to your cancer–although we have no studies showing that eating a lot of it will cure you. But to have enough turmeric reach your blood stream to have any hope of it attacking cancer cells anywhere else in your body, I mean, you’d have to just be injecting it like heroin or something. Now, scientists ARE currently experimenting with finding a way to deliver turmeric to your tumor. But “eating a lot of curry” is not one of those ways.

Compounding this turmeric “cure” craziness is that if you want to buy supplements with high levels of turmeric to bypass the scientists and their pesky science in hopes of curing your own cancer, you may run across supplements that contain all kinds of seriously harmful shit in them, because the supplement industry isn’t regulated. And now I quote from Cancer Research UK:

“The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has issued a warning about the turmeric based food supplement Fortodol (also sold as Miradin). Fortodol has been found to contain the strong anti inflammatory drug nimesulide. Nimesulide can cause serious damage to the liver and is not licensed as a medicine in the UK. The Food Standards Agency in the USA states that taking products that contain unknown amounts of nimesulide could be very harmful. Fortodol and Miradin are sold in the UK and on the internet as food supplements. The FSA advises anyone taking these products to stop doing so immediately, and contact their doctor if they have any signs of liver disease. The signs include jaundice, dark urine, nausea, vomiting, unusual tiredness, stomach or abdominal pain, or loss of appetite.”

Look, I get it: we all want a simple solution to our cancer problems, and we figure taking a few supplements can’t hurt. Except when they cause goddamn liver disease. If I wanted to get liver disease, I’d have started drinking a shitload more whiskey, thatnkyouverymuch.

You may also have heard a testimonial or two about how someone cured their cancer with turmeric. I’ve yet to read one that wasn’t on a wackadoodle health food site selling those liver-killing supplements, or that didn’t say “I added turmeric to my chemo regimen and my cancer was cured, yay turmeric!” So, the chemo had nothing to do with it, it was just turmeric? Riiiiigggghhhhhttt.

Is turmeric bad for you? Hell no! If that’s a flavor you like, then by all means, eat it to your heart’s content. Just don’t be surprised when it doesn’t cure your cancer.

Crazy Cancer Cures: The Power of Positive Thinking

You guys! It’s time again for another in my series on Crazy Cancer Cures, where we discuss the many dumb ideas I’ve heard about alternative ways to cure my cancer. Today we’re going to talk about the power of positive thinking. 

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say “Just stay positive, you can beat this!” Uh, no, I can’t. Metastatic breast cancer has no cure. Unless one is discovered, and quickly, I’ll die of my disease. I will not beat it. And no amount of positive thinking about it will change the biology of my tumor. 

Here’s where people get confused: there can be lifestyle benefits to having a positive attitude. Like, if you’re positive, you tend to have less depression, and that’s a positive thing for your lifestyle. Will that mean your cancer won’t kill you? No. It just means you’ll be less depressed while you wait for death.

In addition, there is actually research showing that all the “keep fighting” battle metaphors have a negative impact of the emotional state of cancer patients. So actually, telling people to stay strong and positive can make things worse.

Lots of things make cancer treatment less shitty. Exercise, anti-nausea medications, a healthy diet, pain medications, a hug from a friend. These are all awesome things. But none of these things CURE cancer. Supportive care isn’t a cure. It just makes cancer less shitty–which is a good thing, but not a cure.