Monday, October 01, 2007


Sit back, grab a cup of tea - maybe a blankie, and let me tell you a story. No, it's not about drinking til 4 am with crazy dutch cruise ship officers or how my husband used to have his tongue pierced (yes and yes to both, thank you)... this is about a simpler time. A time when we were involved in things that we felt were VERY important. You know, who will go in the limo post prom or why did they light that soccer ball on fire and kick it around?

I'm talking high school, people. And the reason I look back to a young-mc, daisy duke inspired era is because I find the lessons of high school still relevant upon occasion.

Those who know me now might not believe it, but when I was a teen, I didn't drink. Not a drop. I think I liked being the one kid at the party who wasn't trashed, rather than one of the dozens who did. I also was a big fan of activities that would look good on my college application. So my senior year, I was the Vice President of SADD. But I swear, I made sure everyone who left my keggers had a designated driver. I wasn't opposed to the drinking, per se. Everything in moderation.

Needless to say, I was probably the coolest kid in SADD. I don't say that because I'm actually cool, but most of SADD was full of people who actually didn't attend a party... not one I'd want to go to, at least. I was convinced I was going to make SADD more relevant, so the people who actually needed to hear the message would listen. I had big dreams for our little group.

Long story short (I mean it, I swear)... there was an "incident." There was a dance, people showed up possibly drinking, our moderator wouldn't let them in. (Disclaimer: they were friends of mine) But did she call their parents? Call the cops? No, she sent them away... you know, back to their cars. To drive. After she accused them of drinking. Anyone see the problem here?

So I questioned the decision. I went to her and said I had an issue with the message we were sending, that I wanted to have a discussion with the group and its officers about how we handle things. Well, that didn't sit well with our moderator. After "staying up all night thinking about it" (as an adult, I have a serious problem staying up all night for anything high school related) she SENT ME A NOTE during my fifth period English class. In the note? She kicked me out of S.A.D.D. For possibly poisoning the minds of the younger members. For questioning the logic of sending drunks off to drive. Basically, for saying "Why?"

After some tears (you bet your ass I still put that on my college application) and perhaps an angry parent-teacher meeting, my time with S.A.D.D. was over.

What the fuck does this have to do with real life, you say? Jesus, get on with the story.

So recently, in my current role as "little miss breast cancer" I've had the chance to be a part of numerous organizations. I was contacted by a local group, which shall remain nameless - to be a part of their unique way of reaching out to younger women. I was pretty excited about it - after all, it was just up my crazy alley. They were starting to have meetings to discuss their mission, etc. In one of these emails, the founders told me all about how their primary goal was to teach young women self exams, yada yada yada.

Now, I'm pretty knowledgeable on the whole young women thing. I emailed back, saying I was excited to be a part of it and help shape the group. I did want to talk about the BSE - the breast self exam - I wasn't so sure about it. Why, you ask? Well, there's evidence that shows doing self exams doesn't affect survival for young women. Plus, young women have distinct hormonal issues that means they shouldn't be checking once a month... they should be touching themselves up at different times each month, etc. etc. I wanted to talk about getting to know your body more than anything. Or what to do if you find something and a doctor blows you off.

Well, that put a bee in their bonnet. I was told

1. She wasn't a fan of the phrase "touch yourself up." (How they hell they'll get 16 year olds to listen if they don't speak their language, I don't know. I know at 16 I didn't listen to 30 years olds, much less almost 50.)
2. Their goal was teaching the BSE. Period. (never mind the lack of evidence based research that proves their effectiveness. See this link for example.
3. If I couldn't get on board... "If you are comfortable with that, then we would love to have you. If not, we certainly understand and respect everyones' efforts in the fight against this disease and to be honest........if we are all attacking from different angles then I'm sure that they will get the message. We both are extremely positive and motivated people and we feel very strongly about XXX and we want to make sure that everyone involved with XXX supports our mission.

Does this sound familiar? Well, I replied that I just wanted to raise the discussion. Not change necessary, just open it up. (Not even mentioning the average age of the group was about 45... 30 years older than their target audience.)

Well, I never got an email back. I emailed about a meeting. No one responded. I stopped getting all the announcments about getting together. I was shut down, kicked out, black listed, kicked to the curb.

Just like SADD. Just like the moderator who was too emotionally invested to listen to anything other than her view. Just like the small minded students that were out of touch with the people who needed to hear the message. There's me, only I'm 12 years older but just as mouthy. And I still think that asking questions is important.

So I wish this group all the best. I have other organizations to give my time to. That want open an frank discussion. That value people who think outside the box. Who think awareness if more than dressing in pink.

(stepping off soapbox)


Obsessedwithlife said...

Good for you! I do not as much about breast cancer as I do about sarcomas, but as a cancer survivor and the radiation in that area, I have to watch out for breast cancer. And, duh, the tissue is so dense that I have to have MRIs and not mammograms. It's different when you are younger!


Sudipta Das said...

Hello Courtney
on this issue I am fully agree with you. but If we want to combat against a dreadful disease like cancer we need a comprehensive knowledge of the cancer symptoms that can lead to the infliction of the disease which would help us to nullify

its consequences at the elementary level.

thank you

sudipta das