TRUE STORY: LA Times Writer Talks About Breast Cancer Industry
What do we know about breast cancer industry? Laurie Becklund is a former Los Angeles Times staff writer. She is brave woman who battled breast cancer since 1996. Earlier this year unfortunately she knew her time was limited, and as she greeted her last few months, she wrote an opinion piece “As I Lay Dying” about her story. Becklund died Feb. 8 this year.
This is what she really wanted you to know about breast cancer industry.
Early detection does not cure cancer
“I had more than 20 mammograms. None of them “detected” my disease. In fact, we now have important studies showing that routine mammogram screening, which may result in unnecessary treatment, misdiagnoses and radiation overexposure. It can harm more people than it helps.”
In many cases to detect a cancer early means actually to “catch” it before it produces or gives symptoms. That is a real problem, because not every precancerous condition will become cancer. And every case is treated as if it was the same type of cancer. According to an article published in Oxford Journals, mammogram screening is responsible for around 25% of overdiagnosis in breast cancer. The overdiagnosis may be harmful for patients and can lead to “overuse of anticancer therapies” such as the famous chemotherapy.
Becklund discovered for first time a lump in her breast during a self-exam in 1996. She was treated by a radiation and lumpectomy. She had the most “easy” or “curable” type of breast cancer. Five years after the treatment her doctor told her she had minimal chance of it ever coming back.
But in 2009 she received a diagnosis of stage IV breast cancer that actually spread to her liver, bones, lungs and brain.
The only kind of breast cancer that kills is Metastatic breast cancer (MBC)
Metastatic cancer is “cancer that has spread from the place where it first started to another place in the body,” – that’s a definition from Cancer.org. According to Metastatic Breast Cancer Network (MBCN), a non-profit patient advocacy group, breast cancer does not kill. Breast cancer patients die in fact from cancer cells going to other vital organs.
Breast cancer most commonly spreads to brain, bone, lung and liver. And in this case it spread to all four places. Other participants were shocked that she was even alive when she went to an MBCN conference. Almost everyone else had cancer spread to only one organ.
The medical establishment fails their patients
Annually die estimated 40,000 MBC patients.
“I say ‘estimated because no one is required to report a metastatic diagnosis. Death certificates normally report symptoms such as “respiratory failure,” not the actual disease. We are literally uncounted,” Becklund wrote.
While the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) Program is the main source for cancer statistics, according to MBCN, it does not take into account metastatic breast cancer. However the estimation is that up to 30% of all cases are metastatic, and yet they are not counted. According to METAvivor, a non-profit MBC patients’ advocacy organization, only 2% of all breast cancer research has been estimated to go towards finding a solution for preventing or treating metastatic breast cancer.
Breast Cancer Industry? – There is no one “cure”
“Each of us is one-person clinical trials. Yet the knowledge generated from those trials will die with us because there is no understandable database for patients of metastatic breast cancer …” .
While there is a belief that if a person lives 5 years after the diagnosis they are a cancer survivor, for patients with MBC that means almost nothing. Though there is a treatment, MBC is incurable, according to Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
Early detection does not help MBC patients either. Another type of breast cancer that was once labeled “cured” by doctors, often comes back years later as stage IV metastatic. And one type of treatment does not work for all MBC patients.
Right now, while new therapies are just starting to emerge, there is still little hope for survival for MBC, and natural and holistic therapies that have shown promise are routinely ignored.
Becklund wrote “Promise me you’ll never wear a pink ribbon in my name or drop a dollar into a bucket that goes to breast cancer ‘awareness’ for ‘early detection for a cure,’ the mantra of fund-raising juggernaut Susan G. Komen, which has propagated a distorted message about breast cancer and how to ‘cure’ it,”.
I will be simply amazed if I find one literate person who is not aware that breast cancer exists and that it is life-threatening for many patients. We are fully aware of that fact. Now what?
Susan G. Komen’s income was $287,409,269 in 2014 and allegedly 79% went into its programs for research, education and support. Besides being aware, the money spent for over 30 years ($2.6 billion worth) did little for the survival rates of the breast cancer that actually kills – MBC.