I was horrified when I read the Bill Keller’s opinion piece criticizing Lisa Adams for sharing her experiences with metastatic breast cancer on social media. He uncomfortably ponders “Her decision to live her cancer onstage invites us to think about it, debate it, learn from it.” Yes, it does and rightfully so!
Lisa Adams deserves plaudits on her bravery and willingness to share her experiences with a breast cancer diagnosis and treatment with the world. It’s hard to think about the bad things that can happen to us. It’s so much easier to quickly paint them over with pink and words like “survivor” in an attempt to project a measure of control. But breast cancer and its treatment are anything but pink and living with this diagnosis is a lesson in learning that everything is not in our control.
By blogging and tweeting about her experiences, Lisa has done a wonderful job of putting a real face on a disease that takes too many women in their prime. She has shown the cost of the cure, which goes beyond dollars to the look on your child’s face when you start to lose your hair or the permanent neuropathy that can be a result of the chemotherapy. As women, we are trained to be “good girls” and not complain and as a result, we have too long been silent about the short and long term consequences of the treatment of breast cancer. We saw this when our call for collateral damage via the [HOW] Study, received thousands of responses! Lisa Adams has bravely gone beyond the celebratory pink ribbon or “pinkwashing” as Barbara Brenner used to say, to create a real-time documentary on what it means to have breast cancer.
I applaud Lisa’s courage to be so open about her disease and also her willingness to participate in research. If more women were willing to come out about the experiences of breast cancer treatment and even more about reality of metastatic breast cancer, maybe we could find the will and the money to look for the cause and end this disease once and for all!