Dueling diseases…competing cancer causes…my cancer is worse than your cancer

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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