Breast cancer used to be so shrouded in social stigma and silence that no one would talk about it. In 1974, when first lady Betty Ford was diagnosed with breast cancer it was rarely mentioned publicly. And, her decision to make her diagnosis and treatment a public issue was groundbreaking. How many of us know public figures who choose to keep mum about their Lyme disease or that of their children? At the time the medical establishment focus was all about “prevention”, not “cure” and all of the focus was on “research”, not patients. It took women activists to press for a new emphasis on the patient and the cure. Their slogan was Breast Cancer, Say it, fight it, cure it, damn it!
So, let’s review the list of similarities:
Two treatment options
One treatment option controversial
Entrenched medical establishment suppresses one treatment option
Physicians afraid to treat
More concern about prevention than cure
More concern about research than patients
Legislation necessary to secure right to treatment
Today patients with breast cancer have a voice and a choice. They sit on a number of government panels. They have secured substantial funding. They did it and so can we. As Yogi Berra says: You can observe a lot by watching.
You can contacted Lorraine Johnson, JD, MBA at firstname.lastname@example.org
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