Friday, October 8, 2010


Before you begin reading this post, allow me to give you fair warning: what I’m about to say is anything but politically correct.

Breast cancer is a pop culture disease.

The reason I say this is not because I want to minimize breast cancer; I don’t. I’m definitely in favor of curing breast cancer. It’s a horrible disease, affecting about four million people at any given time—and about 20% of those four million will die from it. That’s 800,000 breast cancer patients who will not win their battles, and that’s 800,000 too many.

Now, that having been said, let’s consider diabetes for a moment. Diabetes affects about 200 million people at any given time, and that number continues to climb. Unlike breast cancer, which has decreased as better treatments are found, diabetes is expected to grow another 50% in the next dozen years or so. By the early 2020s, roughly 300 million people will have diabetes. And unlike breast cancer, diabetes is almost impossible to cure. So, almost 100% of those 200-300 million people will die from it.

If we use today’s numbers, there are 50 times as many diabetes patients as breast cancer patients. Given recovery rates, that means 250 times as many diabetes deaths as breast cancer deaths. Now… guess which one gets more federal funding. If you guessed diabetes, you obviously don’t know how our government works.

I don’t have diabetes, but I love several people that do. While I also love several cancer survivors—including breast cancer survivors—they are just that: survivors. Unless something changes, my diabetic friends and family will never become “survivors”; their bodies will continue to rebel against them, eating away at themselves until they die. Cancer treatments are horrible—I’ve watched people suffer through them—but cancer treatments can end. Cancer can go into remission. After a while, it might even be considered “gone.” But diabetes treatments never end; they just get less and less effective.

So, as we recognize October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, with its pink everything all over the nation, let’s also remember that November is Diabetes Awareness Month. When you look around throughout the month of November, I’m sure you’ll see beautiful gray ribbons adorning everything from… well, no, I guess you won’t see them. Diabetes Awareness isn’t cool enough to be a marketing tie-in; it’s not even cool enough to warrant a real color. What’s up with that?

Breast cancer sucks. Diabetes sucks and gets ignored. :'-(

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