Every October, for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, women are inundated with pink ribbons and simplistic messages of “awareness” regarding breast cancer. They are encouraged to buy PINK for “the Cure.” But Breast Cancer Action Quebec knows that shopping won’t stop breast cancer. Their antidote is to provide women with a more substantive discussion on breast cancer. This week three women will respond to the pressing question: Where is Feminism when My Body Needs It Most?
This panel discussion on Breast Cancer and the Absence of a Feminist Analysis will take place on Wednesday, October 14 ( 7 pm to 9 pm) at the Concordia University Downtown Library Building (1400 de Maisonneuve West, LB-1019 -10th Floor).
As for the panelists, they will include Julie Michaud, Luisa Molino and Jennifer Beeman, Michaud is the coordinator of Concordia University’s Centre for Gender Advocacy and a young woman facing breast cancer. She will address the importance of a feminist analysis while living the experience of the disease including assumptions she confronts from her team of health professionals. Molino is the coordinator of the pan-Canadian research project Cancer’s Margin,s affiliated with the Simone de Beauvoir Institute of Concordia She will discuss the experience of breast cancer for women of the sexual diversity and the social construction of the disease. Beeman is the director of Breast Cancer Action Québec. She will present an overview of current feminist issues concerning breast cancer, including a wide range of tough, unanswered questions about the disease, for example the impact of social inequalities and rates of mortality.
“We at Breast Cancer Action Quebec understand deeply just how scary the words ‘breast cancer’ are for any woman,” Beeman said in one of her blogs. “But too many women are being unnecessarily treated for lesions that would never have caused problems.
Beeman was referring to a study on ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), traditionally considered a precursor to potentially fatal invasive breast cancer, which shows that the massive detection and treatment of DCIS does not lead to a decline in breast cancer mortality but does lead to significant overtreatment
“For women to better understand the issue of overtreatment, we need to change discussions of breast cancer from fear-mongering approaches of ‘one in nine’ to an understanding that it is a complicated set of diseases requiring very different approaches, and in some cases, no intervention, but rather an attentive surveillance. We need a discussion on current screening programs, a re-examination of the treatment of DCIS and the development of less aggressive treatments, as well as the creation observational registries to study the evolution of these cases. We also clearly need better coordination of breast cancer research agendas so that fundamental research on tumor biology is made a priority.Individual women must be informed, prepared and encouraged to enter into these discussions with their doctors when the diagnosis of breast cancer is first raised. And finally, women in the women’s health movement must be included in these discussions to develop the tools necessary to bring about these changes.”
There is no admission charge for this event which aims to provide a forum for discussion of breast cancer that moves beyond the pink paradigm to take a deeper look at some real issues of concern. Breast Cancer Action Quebec (formerly Breast Cancer Action Montreal) has advocated for breast cancer prevention and the elimination of environmental toxins linked to the disease for 24 years. Log on to www. acsqc.ca.