Health News Review

An article on Salon, ” ‘I wish I had breast cancer’: The latest terrible cancer campaign,” criticizes the Pancreatic Cancer Action organization for its latest “awareness” campaign.


In it, a man says “I wish I had testicular cancer” and a woman says “I wish I had breast cancer.”

The author of the Salon piece writes:

“Cancer is not a competition. It is not a contest to see who has the best or worst experience. … Can we please just stop this stuff? … You can advocate for early detection and increased awareness without crapping all over other people who are going through their own experiences. …And remember that if you’re trying to win the “My cancer is worse than your cancer” award, you’re in a really dumb race.”

On Twitter, breast cancer advocates agree with the article, with critics calling the campaign “offensive, distasteful, awful, horrendous” and much more.

Jody Schoger wrote: “The ‘my cancer is bigger than yours’ campaign is straight out of second grade.  Do better, people.”

Laura Nikolaides wrote: “Byproduct of misguided pink ribbon campaigns.”

See more about what the Daily Mail calls “outrageabout the campaign.

The cacophony of media messages about “disease awareness”  just got a lot louder.

Addendum:  Don’t miss Katherine O’Brien’s piece on the IHateBreastCancer blog, in which she says the “brilliant marketing plan is working.” Excerpt:

Perhaps most troubling is the notion of what the American Cancer Society’s Otis Brawley calls disease Olympics,” i.e., when advocates for one disease try to increase funding for their disease by decreasing funding for another disease. “I believe the wise advocate tries to get more money for all cancer research and does not try to undermine another disease in favor of the disease that he or she is interested in,” says Brawley.


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Marie Ennis-O'Connor (@JBBC) posted on February 5, 2014 at 7:10 pm

Where to start with this! It is shocking beyond belief that at some meeting someplace agreement was reached that this was the best way to get noticed. Yes, noticed for all the wrong reasons. I know there are many who believe that breast cancer gets its share of undue attention and funding, but seriously, causing division in such a public and crass manner is not the way to go about addressing the perceived inequity.

Patricia Battaglia posted on February 10, 2014 at 9:43 am

Since my own breast cancer diagnosis nearly 10 years ago, I have come to work for a breast cancer support/advocacy organization. I have gotten to know many who eventually lost their lives to this disease, and the memories of those who were taken too soon are a big part of the reason I continue in this work. With 40,000 deaths per year, and 30% of all diagnoses across the board recurring or metastasizing, breast cancer is a devastating diagnosis. An ad campaign minimizing the impact of breast cancer in the face of another form of cancer is not helpful to anyone. Cancer sucks, regardless of the body part it strikes.

Kathi Apostolidis (@kgapo) posted on February 10, 2014 at 10:20 am

Yes, it is distasteful and does not serve their cause, but is it the idea of the concerned advocacy group or an idea passed on by a PR/advertising agency? Of course, the responsibility lays with the patient group that accepted such a campaign idea but I have seen more than one revolting or untrue cancer campaign ideas, run by patient groups…
Before accepting a campaign idea, patient advocacy groups would better seat down and apply plain common sense in looking at the campaign proposal before accepting it…