When I hear breast cancer a few things that come to my mind are pink ribbons, sickness, and breast cancer campaigns. These are a few things that are commonly known and associated with breast cancer mainstream.
The breast cancer culture includes running campaigns that help bring awareness to communities about the disease. They usually provide resources and information on how to perform self examinations, how to find early symptoms of breast cancer, screenings such as mammograms and other helpful information. Campaigns usually have fundraising as well to help with research, technology to detect breast cancer, and provide new treatments and drugs. It also helps change attitudes and perceptions of breast cancer making people be more aware and conscious of the disease. This is one of the strengths of the breast cancer culture.
Although certain campaigns were being funded to raise awareness and raise funds for additional research and biomedical methods, there has not been much research on the environmental effects degrading women’s health (Lecture 7.1). In the article “The Cultural Politics of Sisterhood”, The earlier female activists in the Breast Cancer Fund campaign examine breast cancer with an eco-feminist approach to address the issues. They argued about how the breast cancer paradigm blames a women’s lifestyle choices are the causes of breast cancer instead of taking into account the social, political, and environmental factors that play a part in breast cancer (Ley 110-111). This can be seen as one of the weaknesses in early breast cancer campaigns and still today. There is not much research on the environmental factors that take a toll on women’s health that can possibly cause breast cancer to develop.
Furthermore most campaigns include the infamous pink ribbon symbol that represents breast cancer. This tactic can be seen as counterintuitive since some companies can use this as a way to make a profit for themselves (Ley 118-119). In the section Pink Ribbons of Ley’s article, Ley uses the example of pinkwashing which is similar to the term greenwashing where companies claim they are about women’s health and advocate for breast cancer so they can boost their public image and increase their profits (Ley 118-119). This another weakness with the breast cancer culture.
There is a gender gap with the breast cancer culture. When I watch commercials, read online articles, and go to breast cancer events I rarely hear/see anyone talk about breast cancer in men. This is one of the flaws the breast cancer mainstream possess. Although breast cancer is well known, especially in women, it still doesn’t address breast cancer in men. I am also not sure how much research there is on breast cancer in men.
In the United States, the health care system uses a biomedicine approach to examine breast cancer. Doctors, medicine, screenings and mammograms are used to treat breast cancer. Breast cancer is the second leading cancer in the United States (Lecture 7.1). The biomedicine approach is more funded than other theories that are applied to diseases. I think this is both a weakness and strength in the breast cancer culture. This can be seen as a strength because it seems to be the most effective way as of right now to detect and treat breast cancer. Since we already have some research, technology and medicine readily available patients can be diagnosed and treated immediately. However, this is also a weakness because there’s only one part of cancer being researched and not fully understanding how to prevent and control the disease and investigating other factors such as environmental causes.
In conclusion, breast cancer culture helps raise awareness with campaigns but not all aspects as to how to prevent breast cancer and other factors that can cause the development of breast cancer are being implemented into research. There needs to be more funding for research outside of the biomedicine and lifestyle perspective.
Ley, B. “Chapter 5: The Cultural Politics of Sisterhood.” From Pink to Green: Disease Prevention and the Environmental Breast Cancer Movement. 2009. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1kQtCIl0qJU_xgjxn6PKffp0BhyZqCUqm/view.
“The ‘Patient’ Role, Authoritative Knowledge, and Patient ‘Non-Compliance.’” Women and Health, Department of Anthropology, 31 May 2019, anthropology.msu.edu/anp270-us19/lecture-videos/patient/.