what? I’m confused, then,” I said. “I was told by the radiologist after my
biopsy that cancerous cells were found to be pervasive in the ducts of my right
breast. The diagnosis was confirmed by no fewer than three doctors. And before
you came in here, the breast and plastic surgeons on your team in this
hospital said I’m not even a candidate for a lumpectomy, that I need a mastectomy and that I should
actually take both breasts off. If
that’s not cancer, what is it?”
mean, it’s cancer,” she said, “but
it’s kind of a pre-cancer. You can
call it cancer if you want.”
I wondered, does
anyone want to have cancer? Of course not. But what everyone with any kind of cancer really wants—second to a cure—is to not feel judged.
is why I felt a team spirit sense of anger, humiliation and disgust on behalf
of cancer survivor Monika Allen after reading how Self magazine shamed her in its most
recent issue for running in a tutu.
"A racing tutu
epidemic has struck NYC's Central Park, and it's all because people think these
froufrou skirts make you run faster,” it said in the magazine’s BS Meter feature about a picture of
Allen and a friend running in tutus. “Now,
if you told us they made people run from you faster, maybe we would believe
one at Self told Allen they’d be
making fun of her. They didn’t ask why she also had on a Wonder Woman T-shirt
and her friend donned a Superman T-shirt. They didn’t ask why her buddy’s
running bib had “Die Tumor Die” printed above her race number. They didn’t ask
her anything except for permission to print the photo.
It’s poor bedside manner inside and outside of the doctor’s office.
Allen was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2012 and still managed to run a marathon in between rounds of chemotherapy. Furthermore, the tutu Allen wore in the photo is one she made for a company she started that donates the proceeds to charities such as those that research things like brain cancer.
they’ve since apologized because they’re being rightly destroyed on every
possible platform for being so cruel. But why does a magazine whose mission
statement starts with the single word “Life” have a section dedicated to
making fun of anyone seeking fitness,
no matter what they’re wearing? How are they so irresponsible as to not even
ask about the tutu or know that wearing one is a trend among some women to
encourage themselves and others to find a little extra empowerment as they seek
health, fitness and life?
like a school in Grand Junction, Colo., which in late March suspended a 9-year-old girl
for shaving her head in solidarity with a friend stricken with cancer. Kamryn Renfro technically
violated the school’s dress code by potentially distracting her classmates, but
instead of making her bald head out to be a exception to the rule, which her
friend undergoing chemo even said “made me feel very special and that I’m not
alone,” the school waited until they were blasted in the media before they said
they’d let Renfro back in school.
not just the oncologist (who couldn’t pay me to see her again), a major magazine
(who couldn’t beg me to read it) or a school (who couldn’t touch my children
with all the world-class teachers and books on the planet)—it’s the
concept of how people have become so detached from the human element. It’s about
thinking before they speak, write or judge. It’s poor bedside manner inside
and outside of the doctor’s office, newsroom and principal’s office.
from those who should know better—medical professionals, media experts and
educational specialists—who are essentially spitting in the face of those suffering
or seeking encouragement in any capacity. Not the least of whom are trying to
rise above their own or someone else’s diagnosis and lift up others in the
bad enough when faceless, anonymous, untraceable trolls on the Internet make
nasty comments about people they don’t know and will never meet. But when
doctors, legitimate writers and teachers are smirking publicly in the faces of
their patients, readers and students about serious and potentially
life-threatening issues that they either don't know or don’t care enough to ask about
in the hope that they’ll make some kind of a snarky point—we all need a time
out for a deep breath, to reevaluate our priorities, and, most importantly, examine
our capacity to feel empathy for others.