Well, I'd like to throw one more word out there as the subject of today's post.
- to desire with expectation of obtainment
- to expect with confidence
In the cancer culture, "hope" is a word that carries a lot of power and emotion when uttered in the context of cancer patients and their desire to be healed from their disease by the miracle cure that everyone wants to believe will be forthcoming within their lifetime.
And in the breast cancer culture particularly, "hope" is a concept that holds plenty of marketing cache' for the savvy corporations looking to make a buck off society's hope for a world free of breast cancer.
You can purchase a "Facets of Hope Breast Cancer Awareness Bracelet" for the bargain price of $99 where;
"Companionship, courage and love today; hope for a cure tomorrow. That's the heartfelt message that this Facets of Hope crystal bracelet expresses to everyone, whenever you wear it to show your compassion and support for those who face the challenges of breast cancer."Except just be sure to read the attached warning label which, although legally only required by the State of California, should probably be read by anyone considering buying this bracelet.
"California Proposition 65 WARNING for lead crystal: To enhance optical clarity, the crystal in this product contains lead, a chemical substance known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm."My hope is that nobody buys this ridiculous piece of pink-ribbon schlock, since it's production might actually contribute to increasing cancer incidence, and purchasing it doesn't really feed my hopes that we'll have a "cure tomorrow".
In the U.S., Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, the nation's largest breast cancer fundraiser, has a commercially vested interest in this concept of "hope", as do their corporate partners, evidenced by the following examples of campaigns undertaken in recent years. We've seen Komen trademark the phrase "For The Cure" and enforce it's legal rights over anyone else deigning to use such phrasing in their fundraising efforts. I wonder if we're going to see a similar scenario unfold for the word "hope" when used in the context of breast cancer?
DOVE® Chocolate: Promises of Hope:
MMG CorporationSusan G. Komen for the Cure is proud to be the beneficiary of DOVE® Chocolate Promises of Hope™. DOVE® Chocolate Promises of Hope™ feature messages of hope and inspirations written by breast cancer survivors. These messages capture the strength, compassion and voice of women who have overcome the battle of their lives.
Smiles of Hope ® toothbrushSusan G. Komen for the Cure® is proud to partner with MMG Corporation for their “Knots for Hope” campaign to support the vision of a world without breast cancer. The Knots for Hope collection of 100 percent silk ties featuring the Susan G. Komen for the Cure signature running ribbon logo will be available at www.Macys.com, Belk Stores, Boscov's, Lord & Taylor, Macy's, Nexcom, Peebles, Stein Mart, Veteran's Canteen, and select TJ Maxx and Marshall’s stores nationwide.
Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, Seattle branch, is also the recipient of a portion of proceeds from sales of the Walther P-22 Hope Edition gun from Discount Gun Sales LLC in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Yes that's right, a "Hope" gun.Susan G. Komen for the Cure is pleased to partner with Cause Care, LLC in the breast cancer movement. From August 15, 2008 through August 15, 2010, Cause Care will sell a specially designed Smiles of Hope ® toothbrush through various retailers nationwide to benefit Komen for the Cure.
|Does this gun accurately represent |
your hopes for a world free of breast cancer?
It just makes me hope for better gun control laws in this country.
|The Hope Bear|
"Hope" as a marketing strategy is not limited to corporate America alone.
The Cancer Treatment Centers of America, a network of cancer hospitals, actually have a website devoted entirely to this concept of "hope" called "The Journey of Hope", an online resource for cancer patients and their families seeking spiritual support. Indeed, you can even train to be a "Hope Navigator" so that.... "As you minister to cancer patients and their families, you help them find hope for their journey … hope spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically. Hope for a successful battle against cancer."
The American Cancer Society offers their Hope Lodge service which provides free accommodation to cancer patients and their families and "is a place created to ease the burden of cancer treatment - a place where we give hope a home." In addition, they have a charity campaign called "Give Hope" where "we all have reason to hope for a world with less cancer and more birthdays".
But what does "hope" really look like for someone dealing with a cancer diagnosis? Hope that the cancer is not too advanced and responds to treatment? Hope that the cancer doesn't come back? Hope that we get to live out our dreams? Hope for a miracle cure? Hope that future generations won't have to worry about developing cancer? Hope that we won't die a painful and premature death?
Hope, it seems, is everywhere, especially in the breast cancer culture. But is it really? Or do we just hide behind a mountain of pink-ribbon laden merchandise oozing syrupy hopeful messages, trusting that our purchases and donations will make all the difference and that corporate and benevolent America will deliver on the hopes of every breast cancer patient? Or are we being sold on false hope? Perhaps, the reality is that we are just hoping against hope, a state in which we hope without any basis for expecting fulfillment, because if we don't have hope then what else is there?
There are so many dynamics to "hope"in the context of cancer and yet what evidence do we really have to think that "hope" alone will save us? It won't. It's not enough to simply hope. What we must to do is keep critically questioning. Why does the incidence of cancer keep rising unchecked? Why have cancer mortality rates remain largely unchanged for decades? Where is the cancer research focus? Where are all those cancer fundraising dollars really going? Are we simply pouring money into more cancer awareness and education campaigns at the expense of funding potentially game-changing cancer research? When will the government make cancer research funding a top priority? When will governments realize, that in setting law and policy, they can address key issues that will result in cancer prevention? What else can we be doing to aid the fight?
And what about my hope? As someone living with metastatic breast cancer, the statistics of my disease are frightening and offer very little in terms of "hope";
- It's estimated there are currently 162,000 women in the U.S. living with metastatic breast cancer
- 90% of cancer deaths result from stage IV cancer, but only 2% of research funds are devoted to stage IV cancer research.
- In developed countries, nearly 30% of women with early stage breast will go on to develop metastatic breast cancer
- Only 27% of patients whose breast cancer has spread to other organs survive five years
- Median survival after diagnosis is three years with no statistically significant improvement in the past twenty years
- The number of Americans who lose their lives to metastatic breast cancer is about 40,000 per year, a number that has changed little in decades.
- Far too many patients must face their challenges with little to no support. Most programs focus on wellness and recovery, avoiding any reference to stage IV.
- Breast cancer is the most common kind of cancer in women, and the leading cause of cancer death for women worldwide, with nearly half a million deaths every year.
So where do my hopes lie?
- I hope that I can continue to defy the grim statistics that come with my disease.
- I hope that, sooner rather than later, metastatic cancer will be given the research priority and funding that it needs, so that we too stand a chance to live long and productive lives.
- I hope that we will move away from cause-based product marketing and consumerism that has become so ingrained in our collective psyche', so that we can be sure that every dollar we invest in "hope" for a cancer-free world is directed to meaningful and potentially life-saving research.
- I hope that I can expect positive change in the way we confront cancer to happen within my lifetime.
- I hope that I can still have real hope.