Monday, November 10, 2014


I had every intention of following up 3 Weeks A Fever with a post about my 12 Days of ICU.  I was bedside being dismissed by every doctor as a moron while the patient was on morphine every four hours, incapable of sharing in any sort of decision making.  It's a good story but it will wait for a day or two.

Why?  Melissa Etheridge.  And AARP.  I already blogged about this in June of 2013.  In other words, 18 months ago.  AARP Magazine decided it would be a good idea to get some advice from Melissa so we could follow her lead by sharing those "lessons for all of us."

Wow.  WOW.  I'm dumbfounded.  As I stated in my original post, there isn't a shred of evidence in anything.  I'm disgusted.  Here's a screen grab of the offensive photo along with a link to the article.  I'm not even going to get started on the Beat Cancer thing.  I think we've beaten that to death in October.  Put a third person in that picture and one of them will metastasize but that's a whole other issue.

AARP Magazine is so thrilled with this article which may actually be a great article but seeing this, all credibility is lost and I am throwing out the baby with the bathwater.  I can't read a word of anything that was published by someone who would include this so prominently in the article.  They are so thrilled, their Facebook cover looks like this:

In case you don't feel like clicking back to my original blog post, this is what I had to say in June of 2013, words I still stand beside, with great pride:


I don't know why I'm doing this.  I've already established my issues with celebrities using their voices when it comes to illness.  Their own illness.  To comment on someone else's choice, unless you are a doctor, best left alone.  A simple, "She made the choice that was right for her."  Leave it there.

Yes, we are back on Angelina Jolie and the comments made by Melissa Etheridge stating that the choice made by AJ was not a brave choice.

This is exactly what ME said in her interview with Washington Blade:

"I have to say I feel a little differently. I have that gene mutation too and it’s not something I would believe in for myself. I wouldn’t call it the brave choice. I actually think it’s the most fearful choice you can make when confronting anything with cancer. My belief is that cancer comes from inside you and so much of it has to do with the environment of your body. It’s the stress that will turn that gene on or not. Plenty of people have the gene mutation and everything but it never comes to cancer so I would say to anybody faced with that, that choice is way down the line on the spectrum of what you can do and to really consider the advancements we’ve made in things like nutrition and stress levels. I’ve been cancer free for nine years now and looking back, I completely understand why I got cancer. There was so much acidity in everything. I really encourage people to go a lot longer and further before coming to that conclusion."

Yes, that statement created a media uproar that I missed.  Apparently Brad Pitt made a comment and I have NO idea who else jumped in to the fray.  The follow up comment made by Melissa Etheridge says the following:

"I don't have any opinion of what she 'should have' done. All are free to choose. I only objected to the term 'brave' describing it," Etheridge said in a statement to ABC News. 

That's the end of the war of words.  And here are my observations (did you seriously think I would not express an opinion??).  This has nothing to do with AJ's choice or ME's opinion.  It has to do solely with the statement that is in print for all to see.  My objection isn't over bravery or fear (although I do fall on the bravery side of that equation if you are interested).  I'm not going to comment about whether or not that initial statement confers an opinion on the part of ME (all I'm sayin' is read it carefully and you decide).

Let's be clear.  Melissa Etheridge is a musician.  Angelina Jolie is an actress.  Fans tend to hang on to their words.  As a responsible advocate who understands the importance of evidence based medicine not opinions or things that seem likely, I am going to address the comment.

  •  "My belief is that cancer comes from inside you and so much of it has to do with the environment of your body"  (Yes, I agree-tumor microenvironment or as Dr. Love says, "the neighborhood")
  • "It’s the stress that will turn that gene on or not." (ABSOLUTELY NOT TRUE not matter how much you may think this is the case, there is no evidence to support such a statement although the importance of reducing stress can not be understated for plenty of reasons.  Activating a mutated BRCA gene to turn on is NOT one of them.)
  • "Plenty of people have the gene mutation and everything but it never comes to cancer so I would say to anybody faced with that, that choice is way down the line on the spectrum of what you can do" (GROSS MISREPRESENTATION of the very real risks associated with a BRCA mutated gene.  The risk in the general population is 1 in 8 at age 70.  BRCA mutated patients?  6 in 10 [and earlier onset?].  In other words, the risk is five times greater in patients with BRCA mutations.)
  • "and to really consider the advancements we’ve made in things like nutrition and stress levels."  (Stress, previously discussed.  Nutrition?  This is sounding like the blame game.  There is NOTHING we can do to eliminate risk through nutrition or by avoiding potential environmental factors that may be within our control, like for example, moving far from a city where the air is less polluted. These measures will only reduce the risk by a very small percentage.  I have many things swirling in my head regarding numbers so I'm going on the high side. I think we are in control of perhaps 30% of our cancer risk across ALL cancers through behavior modifications. The rest?  A crap shoot.  And not with such great odds if you happen to have a mutated gene.  And medical advances, treatment options, chances of metastases... not much has changed in decades.)
  • "I’ve been cancer free for nine years now and looking backI completely understand why I got cancer." (Really???? Did she REALLY SAY THAT????  Yes, she did.  I'm fairly certain her understanding would be appreciated by the thousands of researchers who have yet to crack that code.)
  • "I really encourage people to go a lot longer and further before coming to that conclusion."  (No.  What you should be doing is encouraging people to do their homework and make the choice that is right for them.  This sounds like she may not be telling AJ what she should have done as she states in her rebuttal comment, but she IS telling the rest of us what she thinks WE should do.)
And, if you make the same decision as AJ, you will be doing so because you made the most fearful choice, not the brave choice.  I suppose I am a big coward, but I can assure you, I made my fearful choice based upon lots of thought, lots of questions and lots of research.  I found my notes from 2006 when I was looking for the copies of my BRCA results that I'm submitting (along with my saliva) to a researcher as part of a clinical study.  I think they were pretty good questions for someone who didn't know a damn thing about breast cancer aside from the fact that my mom was treated in 1987 and it sucked.  I was an e-Patient before I knew what that even meant.  Engaged, Empowered.  What I'd call the choice? AGONIZING.  And, obviously, well thought out and INFORMED.  And No One Else's Business.  And this is why celebrities should keep their opinions to themselves.

The End.

Note to ME:  Stick to the guitar and leave the science to those who know about science.  

Note to AARP:  How could you?  Celebrities are entertainers.  To dispense of advice that flies in the face of anything resembling evidence based anything is extremely irresponsible journalism.  In my opinion.

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  1. I suppose according to Melissa Etheridge, I should change my blog name from Brave Bosom to Fearful Bosom. And do some yoga to keep myself from 'turning on' my BRCA1 mutation.

    By the way - she keeps saying "I have the BRCA2 gene." Someone needs to explain to her that we all have the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. She carries a mutation on BRCA2.


  2. This is active irresponsibility on the part of both Etheridge and AARP.

    People will read this and take it as fact, not as the woo-woo bull**** it is. Where's the scientific perspective on genetics and epigenetics to add any kind of sense or balance to ME's whacknut pronouncements?

  3. This is unbelievable!!! Shame on AARP for printing this.

  4. wow and wow. I have always detested (strong word I know, but I feel very strongly about it) celebrity "opinions" on anything other than something within the realm of what they do - act, sing whatever. Please do not weigh in on matters that you have clearly no understanding of. Just because ME went through BC does not mean she understands BC and can be dispensing advice and no one can criticize someone else for their decisions. She is putting the blame on us for getting cancer, don't we feel bad enough already? I cant believe they published this garbage!

  5. AM, I am sooo angry with AARP. there is absolutely no earthly reason for them to have not done their due diligence/fact checking - and as advocates to their particular demographic, in all matters - like voting, contacting politicians to rally round causes they deem important to that demographic, many based in economics, evidenced based medicine and responsible self health care advocacy and quality of life. they should stick to what they are good at and avoid the urge to plaster a page with glamour shots of celebs in skinny tight pants, their swept sexy hair (most likely gray strands now shiny blond), just to get attention and give the message that you, too, can look hot and be relevant to the latest pop-culture. AARP. like some other publications that cater to a particular age group has completely lost it's footing in what I believe is totally off course of their mission - to advocate and provide education in myriad aspects of aging, responsible consumerism and to rally support and provide the facts for important legislation that will negatively affect older americans. to allow such celebrity blather of personal opinions and advice that could negatively influence cancer patients and their loved ones to be front and center "news" is just plain WRONG. I will not be renewing my membership dues this year, and will include a letter to state the reasons, most which can be ascribed to the outrage I feel at publishing this latest debacle, including reference to the reporter, Alanna Nash, as well as the editors in chief.
    "how they beat breast cancer...lessons for all of us", indeed. thanks for this disturbing but important post, dear AM

    Karen xoxoxox


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