With the latest news where once again, women have been ignored, I have to consider the medical angle. How are women treated by the medical profession? I have myself as an example and having spent two years in the medical establishment in the treatment of breast cancer, I have a lot to say.
Breast cancer- a woman’s disease, and statistically often, an older woman’s disease. We are the invisible members of society. How does that affect treatment in terms of medical establishment? Recently my brother-in-law was treated for prostate cancer. His doctor laid out all treatment options and even asked what his profession was, being that male hormonal treatments could affect the ability to do some intellectual work. Wow. I was never asked anything of that kind ever. Perhaps it’s because women are given hormonal treatments of all types from birth control pills to menopause (and we know how that turned out).
As a matter of fact, my oncologist accused me of reading about the side effects of one of the anti- estrogen treatments I was prescribed (an aromatase inhibitor). No doctor ever mentioned any side effects to me. I read many reports by patients themselves on various online sites. Statistically the compliance rate of taking these meds is about 40% due to the severe side effects. Granted, these drugs can certainly extend your life if you can tolerate them.
The other situation I’ve found in the medical establishment is attitude. Is it because I am an older woman I’m not taken seriously? I am expected to follow every thing the oncologist tells me or I am yelled at. Most recently my oncologist said the recurrence of cancer in two lymph nodes was my fault. Blaming the victim? I was told by a female surgeon that was because the oncologist cared. I don’t think so. This is the man who has been pushing me to take the 10,000$ per month medication that causes hospital grade diarrhea and is not approved by the European Union because its effectiveness is limited.
More pink? I don’t think so. My mother died of breast cancer decades ago. She made it to that magical five year survival rate. Drugs have changed but not nearly enough. Anti- nausea drugs make chemo just a bit easier but the rest of the horrors remain. Hospice certainly helps end of life. Maybe the end isn’t quite so horrific and dragged out as it once was. That’s what I’m clinging to, whether that end comes soon or decades down the road (if I’m optimistic).