I was so looking forward to the Race for the Cure on the National Mall this morning. Sure, it's a lot of work getting a team together, and getting up at 4am and portapotties and all, but I remember my first race, when I was still in treatment, and felt fragile and so so scared. Just being in the presence of all those women (and a few men) who had been through the tunnel, out the other side, and were not just walking, but laughing and dancing...I wear a sign on my back that says "not diagnosed early....still OK!! You can do it too" to counteract the terror in other's hearts that I remember feeling in my own every time I saw the motto "Early detection is the best prevention". I have plenty of political views about cancer research and health care in general, but I leave them at home that day.
Well, I just got home and instead of feeling inspired I'm fuming. this Race was huge. I'm not certain of the numbers, but I'm quite sure there were many tens of thousands of people there. The key speaker was Dr. Jill Biden, who gave a short speech surrounded by Joe and their granddaughters. We all stood in mud up to our ankles, clapped, danced, etc. Then we raced. (okay we were walking, but we all had coffee drinks and a lot of catching up to do)
Just after the finish line of the Race, people hand out freebies--samples of sports drinks, coupons for salsa, etc. One young woman handed me a brochure for an organization entitled "Patients United Now". In its vagueness,it is a marketing masterpiece, saying that support of this organization will help "all patients to have access to the best screenings and treatments", and will help "innovation discover a cure for cancer in our day". On the cover of the brochure is another lovely young woman wearing a headscarf, I suppose to imply that she is undergoing chemotherapy.*
I became suspicious when I saw in tiny tiny print at the bottom of the brochure, "A Project of the Americans for Prosperity Foundation".
I came home, googled it, and found a fear-based, anti-reform website with many horror stories of people in Canada waiting for cancer treatment. How many thousands of people in our nation's capital received this propaganda today, under the guise of celebrating survivorship? How many of them were newly diagnosed and frightened, as I once was? I am furious that they would attempt to capitalize on cancer patients, and survivors, fear of recurrence and death to score political points.
Is there anything I can do? Can we notify people at subsequent Races for the Cure across the country and counteract this? It's just wrong.
*(An aside here: only someone who has been through chemo, or has helped someone through chemo, can understand how annoying it is to see breast cancer patients depicted by supermodels wearing pink headscarves, or even bald wigs. When one of my friends inquired how I would feel if someone shaved their head in solidarity, I said "Sure, but don't forget the rest of your body, and eyebrows, and eyelashes, and pull out some fingernails, and oh yeah stick your finger down your throat every few hours--now that's solidarity!! But I digress.)