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Pink Ribbon Blues

If you're looking for some perspective in the midst of October's pinkwashing, check out Gayle Sulik's new book Pink Ribbon Blues. It's the culmination of nine years of research into the so-called breast cancer awareness movement. Here's a blurb from the book's site:

"In this compelling and provocative work, Sulik shows that while "pink ribbon culture" has brought breast cancer much attention, it has not had the desired effect of improving women's health. It may, in fact, have done the opposite." 

We couldn't have said it better ourselves!



Criticism: Surgery Alone Cured Hollie

A common criticism that we've gotten in response to our book is that Hollie's lumpectomy and lymph node removal were alone enough to cure her cancer. This view is a good example of why we say we need to improve the logic in our thinking about cancer. This criticism takes exactly half of the big picture into account, and when you're dealing with cancer, it's essential for you to be able to see the entire truth.

First and foremost, this argument is revisionist history. Hollie's doctors weren't saying anything close to "Eh, you'll probably be fine after just the surgery." Their advice was exactly the opposite, and we quote it directly in the book: "Hollie, you need chemotherapy." They strenuously recommended chemotherapy, radiation and five years of hormone therapy. One surgeon recommended extensive additional surgery following the lumpectomy. We rejected the additional surgery, along with all of the other conventional therapies being recommended to us. These are the harmful treatments being doled out indiscriminately, and especially to women with breast cancer, and with little to no scientific support for their effectiveness. In our view, in the future it will be common for women to reject these conventional treatments. But it is not common to do so today, and it certainly wasn't in 2002. 

Next, it's worth noting that this criticism is really beside the main point of our book, which is that the biggest cause for concern in conventional cancer treatment is what's recommended to patients after surgery. 

Also, saying it was "no big deal" that Hollie turned down these treatments in favor of safer, smarter alternatives fails to recognize how strongly these treatments are pushed, and how strongly one's future is tied to doing them, according to conventional thinking. If you've spoken to anyone who has gone through chemotherapy, radiation or hormone therapy, then you know just how grueling these treatments are, not to mention the tremendous decrease in quality of life during (and after) the treatments. As Dr. Susan Love says when asked about the quality of life for breast cancer survivors, "If anything, it's getting worse because we're over-treating them." 

Fast forward eight years to the present—we were right, and they were wrong. Hollie is the picture of health, and she didn't have to get sicker first (via conventional treatments) in order to get healthy. The most advanced testing available shows that she remains 100% cancer-free, not to mention healthier in a wide variety of other ways (no more migraines, gastrointestinal problems, painful cysts, low energy, thyroid troubles, etc.). 

Another problem with this argument is that it obscures the fact that cancer statistics are not individualized. Take the 70% cure stat presented by those who offer this criticism. Sure, surgery would "cure" about 70% of women with breast cancer. But, that didn't mean it would cure Hollie. Hollie may have had a zero percent chance of being cured by surgery, especially given her numerous negative prognostic indicators. Conventional wisdom said that this number could be improved to perhaps 80% via chemotherapy, radiation and hormone therapy. That made no sense to us at all, especially given all of the collateral damage caused by conventional treatments in order to achieve that so-called reduced risk. In our view, using the very best botanical and nutritional science available was a much safer, smarter approach. Via the herbal medicine protocol she followed, along with changing her diet dramatically, Hollie has made her body bio-chemically inhospitable to cancer. That's a true cancer cure.

This gets at another important point. While surgery is by far the most effective (and least harmful) conventional treatment, it still does nothing to address the underlying reasons why cancer developed in the first place. We believe that surgery (and sometimes chemotherapy) can definitely help to achieve a cancer cure. But they must be used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan that addresses and fixes the imbalances of each unique patient. Because of the uniqueness of each cancer and each person's body, there is no magic bullet cure (drug, surgery, etc.). That frustrates many people, but it's the reality of cancer.  

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we'd like to see a more judicious use of the word "cure." Conventional treatments, including surgery, don't cure cancer, in the strict sense. They remove it, or burn it to death, or poison it, and in the process they cause a tremendous amount of damage to the body in wide variety of ways. Does that approach "work" in some cases? Sure, and we will never once fail to celebrate someone living after cancer, regardless of what treatments were used. But here are some hard questions that we need to start asking ourselves. Is there a better way? Are there safer, smarter ways to deal with cancer? Are there ways to heal your body from cancer even without surgery?

The answer to all of these questions is "Yes!" Hollie rejected chemotherapy, radiation and hormone therapy, and lived well to tell about it. And you can, too. 


Think Before You Pink

We're big fans of the "Think Before You Pink" movement, which is a project of Breast Cancer Action (BCA). BCA describes itself as "the watchdog of the breast cancer movement" and "the only national breast cancer organization that does not accept funding from entities that profit from or contribute to cancer, including the pharmaceutical industry." 

Think Before You Pink is a campaign that "calls for more transparency and accountability by companies that take part in breast cancer fundraising, and encourages consumers to ask critical questions about pink ribbon promotions." In our book, we discuss the problem of how the conventional cancer world is a juggernaut, and BCA does great work in trying to restore some of the balance of power in dealing with cancer. If you're feeling a little queasy from all the pink this month, follow BCA and the TBYP project in order to add some perspective. With Breast Cancer Awareness Month now underway, we'll be blogging and linking to Think Before You Pink quite a bit. 


Leading Oncologist Likes Our Book!

Well, if by "likes" you mean "hates," then yes, a leading oncologist likes our book! We've gotten quite a response to our book from conventional medicine in just the first few days of widespread publicity. What an honor!

All joking aside, we're glad to have such a substantial response to our book on the part of conventional physicians in just its first few days of broad publicity (the vitriol in some of their commentary is unfortunate, but not surprising). It should also be noted, too, that there are plenty of conventional doctors who actually do like our book, and its message. The last thing we need in the cancer realm is what we have in politics today—two camps, both talking past each other with shrill, one-sided arguments. 

We're going to take full advantage of the amount of discussion being generated, both by those in favor of, and opposed to, our cancer choices. We're going to be responding to the criticisms being offered in response to our book, so that we can show the very specific areas where we disagree with the logic and methods of conventional cancer treatment. To make these posts easier to follow, we'll denote all of the responses via the titles of the posts, like this: "Criticism: Surgery Alone Cured Hollie." And we'll also be creating a table of contents that links to all of the individual criticisms and responses.

The responses we've been getting from some conventional physicians only confirm the conclusions we began drawing eight years ago upon Hollie's diagnosis. More than ever we need the forward-thinking minds in cancer treatment, conventional and holistic, to join together to create a smarter, safer and more complete approach to healing cancer.


Food for Thought

While we are not vegetarians, we couldn't agree more with the sentiments behind this fantastic quote by Dr. Dean Ornish:

"I don't understand why asking people to eat a well-balanced vegetarian diet is considered drastic, while it is medically conservative to cut people open and put them on cholesterol lowering drugs for the rest of their lives."

And it's worth recounting the history here. Decades ago, Dr. Ornish was ridiculed mercilessly by the medical establishment for his claim that dietary changes alone could reverse heart disease. Fast forward 20 years—he was right, they were all wrong. It wasn't really a fair fight, actually. He was basing his claims on 5,000 years of accumulated science. Conventional doctors were saying margarine was healthy.

The same thing will happen with cancer. As we've learned in sharing our story, there is intense vitriol coming from conventional medicine and its supporters in response to the wealth of information about how botanical and nutritional science are the foundation of smart, safe cancer treatment. But Hollie and so many others are returning to wellness via botanical and nutritional science, and more and more people will over time.

We look forward to more thought leaders like Dr. Ornish coming forward and applying this kind of wisdom to cancer!