In this essay Ehrenreich takes a surprising and somewhat controversial take on Breast Cancer. Although at some points throughout the reading I was initially irked by the negativity, it was a refreshingly realistic approach. One of the main ideas that I felt was very strong was the struggle with identity loss. The feeling that the diagnosis was replacing the person that she thought she was.
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Genre: Essay. Toggle navigation. Annotated by: Duffin, Jacalyn. Welcome to Cancerland. Date of entry: Jan Last revised: Sep What works for her own peace of mind has little to do with the trappings of pink-ribbon sentimentalism in the survivors groups. Barbara resorts to her knowledge of cell biology, asks to see her own tumor under the microscope, and contemplates the meaning of visualizing the malignant cells even if she does not believe the exercise can help her.
Posting these thoughts on a chat line, she discovers that most women berate her attitude and suggest she needs a psychiatrist. She is angry. Two disturbing ironies bring the essay to a close. The mammogram is a ritual, she says. The second irony lies in the role of the pharmaceutical industry which fosters the pink power movement —the ribbons, the teddy bears, the marathons-- while manufacturing the expensive poisons that seem to have anticancer side effects.
These same companies, she argues, have also manufactured carcinogenic pesticides that pollute the environment. Having profitably poisoned women into having breast cancers, they continue to profit from poisons of chemotherapy.
Following a PhD thesis in cell biology, her earlier works attacked medical care of women see for example the annotation of see for example the annotation of The Sexual Politics of Sickness and American life in poverty see Nickel and Dimed: On Not Getting By in America.
The rage that fuels her insight is as much against human mortality in general as it is against breast cancer in particular. Many doctors and epidemiologists also worked with feminists—sometimes even engaging them with their statistics--to bring about the demise of those eclipsed medical evils. And, as she admits, none of the evil practices were invented to harm—they were invented, like our current practices, in the hopeful expectation that they might help. Recent statistics suggest that present modalities actually do help, though no one involved with administering them would argue that they are perfect.
Ironies notwithstanding, few women would be willing to forego mammography or adjuvant chemotherapy. And if some are comforted by teddy bears, why not? Just as Susan Sontag dealt with her cancer diagnosis by writing the influential Illness as Metaphor , Erhenreich vigorously expiated her own trajectory with this articulate demonstration of classic anger.
Although she is unlikely to agree, something good came from her cancer. Primary Source Harper's Magazine. Edition November , Page Count
Welcome to Cancerland
Barbara starts her article with how her struggle against cancer first began. She uses explicit imagery to convey her experience and attempts to make the readers feel as if they were in her shoes. Since Barbara received her Ph. D in cellular immunology, she understood how cells are shaped and how they function and knew how to illustrate these cellular terminology and knowledge to readers.
Barbara Ehrenreich on Breast Cancer
Genre: Essay. Toggle navigation. Annotated by: Duffin, Jacalyn. Welcome to Cancerland. Date of entry: Jan Last revised: Sep What works for her own peace of mind has little to do with the trappings of pink-ribbon sentimentalism in the survivors groups.