November 4's press release states: "Today, the American Cancer Society unveiled a new public awareness campaign, Advantage Humans™, that puts people – and the collective power of our humanity – at the center of a shift to redefine victory over cancer. The aim of the campaign is to channel the range of raw emotions and unique human traits we all share to triumph over cancer every single day."Our new campaign, Advantage Humans, marks a turning point in the fundamental way we talk about cancer," said Gary Reedy, CEO, American Cancer Society. "We're seeing greater advancements in treatments and so much personal success in all the patients, survivors and family members we support, but we know the upper hand against cancer comes down to all of us. As the largest voluntary health organization, we hope that people will help us change the conversation about a disease that is often difficult to express openly and honestly."
"The campaign breaks down barriers in the way the Society talks about cancer. At the center of the initiative is an integrated brand and donation-driving program that profiles a variety of human traits and emotions in a range of inspiring true and portrayed stories of cancer patients, survivors and loved ones."
Do they live in the same cancer world I live in? I ONLY hear these "positive" stories in how to deal with cancer. I seldom hear people talk about the reality of the struggle of life with cancer. Too many times, those without cancer are telling those with cancer how they should feel. (That's a whole different blog post that's coming ... how the blind are leading the sick.)
I'm all for being positive ... and courageous ... and defiant ... and devoted. However, I'm also all for being realistic. Not one of those emotions is going to stop the disease that is slowly, but surely, taking over my body.
The American Cancer Society has been sucked into the positive thinking mantra that makes it seem that if only you channeled your emotions into fighting your disease, then you won't die from said disease.
Seriously? I am shocked and stunned that this is a "thing" in cancer land.
I wrote the ACS:
While appreciative of the work the ACS does, I am vastly disappointed in the messages being sent via the latest advertising campaigns. I'm specifically referring to the Advantage Humans campaign in which you state:
"Cancer will never have what humanity has -- hope, courage, defiance, and devotion. It's these uniquely human traits that give us the advantage and why today more of us are surviving cancer than dying from it."
While all of these traits are helpful in getting through treatments, not one of them has ever been proven to be effective in extending one's life or improving survival statistics. The implicit message here is that if you are not filled with hope, courage, defiance and devotion, well, it's your own fault if you die.
As someone with metastatic breast cancer, I'm well aware that this disease will kill me before an expected life span. I'm a naturally optimistic person, but that doesn't stop the progression of cancer that is replacing bone marrow and taking over liver function. There's absolutely NOTHING about my human emotions, be they positive or negative, that can change that.
More people are surviving as a result of effective and innovative treatments. The hope, courage, defiance and devotion come from the research end ... not the patient end ... and that is what should be used to tug at people's hearts and wallets.
I'm dying, but I'm no hero. My doctors are the heroes as we struggle to find ways in order for me to see my daughter graduate from high school in 2018 and to see my son graduate from high school in 2020. It's not looking likely, but if it happens, it won't be because of anything I do. It will be because of the incredible hard work of those involved in getting around this disease and stopping it in its tracks.
Bald heads are not the picture of cancer treatments. White coats are.
Be a part of the necessary change needed in public understanding of this disease. Rather than promoting the ever-nauseating, "It's all in your attitude," why not feature people who had that same amazing attitude but DIED. Their attitude couldn't save them, nor did attitude save those featured in your stories.
Free people to be who they want to be. Stop perpetuating the warrior myth.
Make it real.
That's the true human story.
I'll let you know if I hear back from them. I'm very doubtful they will even acknowledge my existence. After all, I don't fit their "Advantage Humans" model.
I'm not sure what conversation they are trying to change as this campaign makes them appear to be completely out of touch with the conversation as it currently exists.
The real change would be to force people to understand that there are far too many cancers without a cure. We CANNOT sit back and say, "Yay for us! More people are surviving!" We MUST insist that change happen for all, especially those with metastatic disease of any kind. Until we stop metastatic disease, we've won no victories.