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Topic: Pacreatic Cancer Ad: "I'd Rather Have Breast Cancer"

Forum: Stage IV/Metastatic Breast Cancer ONLY —

Please respect that this forum is for members with stage IV/metastatic breast cancer only. There is a separate forum for caregivers and friends: Caring for Someone with Stage 4 or Mets.

Posted on: Feb 6, 2014 12:36PM

EnglishMajor wrote:

There has been quite to do regarding one association's ad campaign which features pancreatic cancer patients saying they would rather have cervical, testicular or breast cancer. 

The association's idea was to call attend to diseases with "better" survivability rates. While I don't disagree pancreatic cancer carries a grim prognosis, the idea that breast cancer is enviable is moronic on all fronts.

this is the association's video: 

First, as noted here, we  are all in this together. The  "Disease Olympics" where one disease is discounted if favor of another is a not a good approach:

Second, while the breast cancer numbers the pancreatic people cite are awesome, they don't explain some important facts. 

>Those statistics are for early stage breast cancer; not metastatic disease. 

>People die of metastatic disease, not primary breast cancer.

>Survival, mortality and incidence are not the same.

>Mortality numbers tell the story more precisely than survival numbers.

>Screening skews the survival numbers. The more we screen, the more we diagnose and treat people with breast cancers that would not have been a threat to their lives (some DCIS, other slow growing invasive breast cancers, and others that are dormant or regressive); so it looks like survival for early stage breast cancer is 98 percent.  But this is only a 5-year survival number—and includes the 20-30 percent of people who will have recurrence and  die of the disease later.

>The  incidence of stage IV breast cancer—the cancer that is lethal—has stayed about the same; screening and improved treatment has not changed this.

Which brings me to my next point....

Dx 7/6/2009, IDC, 3cm, Stage IV, Grade 3, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Feb 6, 2014 12:42PM EnglishMajor wrote:

What if we made a response video? It could feature pictures of people with MBC.  Each person could hold a sign that says "I wish people knew about Metastatic Breast Cancer." It could also include the person's name and age. Although it's tempting to say "Welcome to our world" or similar, if we just keep a simple--message, "I wish people knew about Metastatic Breast Cancer" we will off as taking the high road. Let me know if you are interested in sending a picture.

Dx 7/6/2009, IDC, 3cm, Stage IV, Grade 3, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Feb 6, 2014 01:06PM chanah wrote:

I'm not out yet; people wrote me off enough when I was first diagnosed stage 2 - so I can't imagine telling more than very close friends and family any further details.  But if/when I am ready to go public, I would share in your effort.

lung and liver spots grew during initial treatment Chemotherapy 1/21/2012 AC Dx 11/21/2012, IDC, 1cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 2/15 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2+ Surgery 12/10/2012 Lymph node removal: Left, Underarm/Axillary; Mastectomy: Left, Right Targeted Therapy 3/17/2013 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Chemotherapy 3/17/2013 Taxol (paclitaxel) Dx 4/8/2013, IDC, Left, 1cm, Stage IIIB, Grade 3, 2/17 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+ (FISH) Chemotherapy 4/14/2013 Abraxane (albumin-bound or nab-paclitaxel) Radiation Therapy 7/7/2013 Breast, Lymph nodes Dx 7/11/2013, IDC, Stage IV, mets, ER+/PR-, HER2+ Hormonal Therapy 7/29/2013 Femara (letrozole)
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Feb 6, 2014 01:21PM Bestbird wrote:

What I'm about to say will doubtless be considered controversial:  I understand what the pancreatic folks are saying.

Before jumping out of your chair exclaiming what idiocy this is, please let me explain.

Eighteen years after my initial "early" stage bc diagnosis, cancer was found in my lung.  Prior to the biopsy we didn't know what it was: recurrent bc, lung cancer (although I'm a non-smoker), mesothelioma, or something else entirely.  As I awaited the results of the biopsy, I found myself hoping that it would be bc.  Why? Because, despite the grim prognosis, the odds for living a few years with mbc were greater than those for other cancers found in the lung.  Additionally, I recognized that people with bc tend to be vocal, supportive (although I realize that some folks may want to kick me right now!) and action-oriented.  So I was therefore relieved (an most unusual expression to use in these circumstances)  when the pathology results reported mbc.

That said, it goes without saying that cancer is a horrifying disease that no one should ever bear.  Yet frankly, if I had a choice between mbc - or better yet - bc without the m - and pancreatic, it would be a no-brainer.  Additionally we need to realize that bc has received, for various reasons, the lion's share of media attention and funding - although no one will dispute that it's still not enough. 

The pancreatic folks have accomplished a key purpose: highlighting the grim plight of their disease. 

For them, it's a start.

Dx 10/6/2011, IDC, Left, Stage IV, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Feb 6, 2014 01:36PM EnglishMajor wrote:

I hear you, BB. I don't think one disease is "worse" than another. But it also shows the identity problem of metastatic breast cancer. I feel the pancreatic people have no idea what Stage IV breast cancer is. In some ways this reminds me of a game of "Would You Rather" with no "good" choice....

The campaign did create awareness, but it also created an image challenge. Many people confused other pancreatic groups with the "I wish" group. Given that the "I wish" group has Hugh Grant as a supporter and the whole ad campaign was done for them for free, they seem like they do have some fire power at their disposal. I do wish them well, I just wish they weren't perpetrating more commonly held misconceptions about breast cancer, specifically the metastatic kind....

Dx 7/6/2009, IDC, 3cm, Stage IV, Grade 3, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Feb 6, 2014 01:47PM - edited Feb 6, 2014 01:49PM by Angelfalls

This is what people in the UK are saying about this British ad campaign:

In the UK, 55,000 people are diagnosed with bc each year. There are 12,000 deaths. Yes, the survival rate (85% at 5 years falling to 64.5% at 20 years, including those already living with recurrence and mets) is much better than it is for pancreatic cancer, but the sheer numbers are very different.

Breast cancer research has the potential to develop treatments which can help other cancers - my uncle has been on Xeloda for bowel cancer, men with certain prostate cancers take the same hormone therapies bc patients are prescribed and many other treatments are used for a number of different types of cancer.

I can understand the frustrations being aired by this charity and the patients it represents, but "My cancer is better than your cancer" is frankly the stuff of playground quarrels and does nothing to help anyone living with this vicious disease.

Dx 3/2003, IDC, 6cm+, Stage IIIA, Grade 3, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 4/1/2003 Lymph node removal: Right; Mastectomy: Right; Reconstruction (right): Latissimus dorsi flap Chemotherapy 4/30/2003 Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Ellence (epirubicin), Fluorouracil (5-fluorouracil, 5-FU, Adrucil), Taxotere (docetaxel) Radiation Therapy 11/15/2003 Hormonal Therapy 1/5/2004 Dx 9/15/2006, 5cm, Stage IV Radiation Therapy 11/1/2006 Surgery 1/31/2007 Prophylactic ovary removal Hormonal Therapy 2/28/2007 Arimidex (anastrozole) Dx 10/5/2011, Stage IV, mets Chemotherapy 1/5/2012 Xeloda (capecitabine) Chemotherapy 3/20/2012 Taxol (paclitaxel) Hormonal Therapy 10/24/2012 Aromasin (exemestane) Targeted Therapy 5/7/2013 Afinitor (everolimus) Hormonal Therapy 1/7/2014 Femara (letrozole) Chemotherapy 1/31/2014 Navelbine (vinorelbine)
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Feb 6, 2014 02:25PM EnglishMajor wrote:

Thanks for sharing. I feel better knowing that our UK friends are speaking out. I think I will cool off a bit and come back to this.

Dx 7/6/2009, IDC, 3cm, Stage IV, Grade 3, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Feb 6, 2014 03:49PM sueopp wrote:

EM - Just putting in my two cents here, and I think it's relevant.  They have the TV going 24/7 in the waiting room of the infusion center, and while waiting to begin my triple chemo treatment, I heard a guy being interviewed about the very sad death of the actor Seymour Philip Hoffman.  The fellow looked right into the camera and said "I would rather have serious cancer than be addicted to heroin".   Huh?  We all cringed, and I know that I was not the only one who thought "I didn't know this fear and sadness was a contest".  Also I wonder if bc has become a little bit of a cliche - after all,  we have all become so "aware", drenched in pink and everything - PS: your videos lift my heart - please keep 'em coming.  SUE

Dx 12/2010, IDC, Stage IV, 26/35 nodes, mets, ER-/PR-, HER2+
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Feb 6, 2014 04:58PM Tina2 wrote:

This depresses me more than I can say.


Stage I, mastectomy, 1985.Stage I, mastectomy, 1995. Stage IV, lung mets treated with Faslodex 2011-/2018. Treatment hiatus 9/2018-3/2020. Ibrance and Faslodex 3/2020. Faslodex only 11/20. Dx Stage IV, mets, ER+/PR+
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Feb 6, 2014 09:44PM Brendatrue wrote:

Thanks EnglishMajor for starting this topic. I think you, Bestbird, Angelfalls and sueopp present very interesting responses. And I don't think there is any one "right" response. All of our voices create a meaningful discussion, which, I assume, might be the intention of this ad campaign. Might there have been another way for this group to present their message and initiate a wave of discussion? I think so, and I would rather have seen a different ad--perhaps one that asks the question, "Do we need to have a conversation about which cancer is 'more important' or 'more frightening' than another? No! We need to have a conversation about how our medical research dollars are allocated!" Creative minds surely could have developed a campaign that was eye and ear and mind catching, so why was this route taken?

I think first about my own experience with a rare, potentially life limiting cerebrovascular illness. I mean no offense to BB (realizing we all have our unique perspectives) when I say that I never thought, "I wish I had MS instead because at least that is a better understood illness, with more ongoing research, more providers willing to address it, and more treatment options available." I also never thought, "I am so glad that I don't have ALS, because that would mean...." (I can't even finish that thought; it seems so disrespectful to those who struggle with it.) Do I wish there were more research dollars being used to address "my" rare disease? You betcha, but I also wish there were more dollars being allocated to other rare diseases, because people who face those diseases struggle with some of the same challenges I face. People often talk about the allocation of research funds, but do we really know how such decisions are made? Should we strive to make our voices heard? Do we only care about allocation when it's to make sure that "our" illness is getting its "fair share" (or more)? 

We all probably notice how often a complex issue is reduced to a simplistic message, and I guess that's one source of frustration here as well. We all have thoughts about the importance of communication, what works and what doesn't. Some work harder on effective communication than others, some have difficulty expressing nuance or conflict present in their thinking, some strive to be heard and feel unsure of how best to be part of a conversation. Who knows what the person was thinking when he said he'd rather have "serious cancer" than be addicted to heroin? What does that mean? I wonder if he was even clear in his own thoughts, or if he was responding primarily from an emotional state or from memory of a loved one who had died from addiction. What does it really mean to say you'd rather have breast cancer than pancreatic cancer? Who knows? I know that I don't know what it really means, but one thing strikes me:  We all have differing experiences and values that inform our perspectives, and sometimes we don't do a very good job of contributing to a meaningful discussion of very important allocation of medical research dollars or what it's like to live with any serious illness, including cancer.

Brenda.... Wanderer, there is no road, the road is made by walking. (Antonio Machado) Dx 1995, IDC, Left, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 3, 0/16 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Dx 2006, IDC, Left, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 3, ER+/PR+, HER2- Dx 2009, IDC, 1cm, Stage IV, Grade 3, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2- (IHC)
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Feb 6, 2014 11:42PM - edited Feb 6, 2014 11:58PM by Rosevalley

I was diagnosed in 2007 with late stage BC, mets in 2012. Here it is 7 years later and I am still here, BC has more treatment options then many cancers. There was a 17 year old, beautiful Junior at our high school who lost her life to pancreatic cancer. I don't think she even got 2 years from diagnosis to burial. Just such a loss. We lost a neighbor, father of 3, only 33 years old to brain cancer and his cancer journey didn't last quite 18 months.  Some cancers have a grim prognosis no matter what you do. Maybe that was the point of the pancreatic cancer ad.

I agree with the post above. so many miserable diseases out there and their suffering is miserable, truly horrid. It's not necessary to pit one disease against another.  I wouldn't want ALS for anything. Slowly suffocating. I sat in the infusion room with 4 other MS patients all getting drugs and treatments one afternoon. I was finally aware how hard their journey was as they described losing balance, falling, unable to grip something, the humiliation of needing help, longing for independence - all the while understanding it's progressive and hoping for remission. I never understood the human toll and now there were faces on the disease. I didn't think their suffering sounded much different then cancer frankly.. all of them were young.  

Double mastectomy 07/ chemo ACT, Radiation/ 07 Arimidex, 08 Aromasin, 2012 Faslodex, 2014 Afinitor / mets spine, bones 6/2015 mets to omentum, malignant ascites, lung, liver/ 2016 Herceptin, Doxil, Faslodex. Ibrance, Taxol, Abraxane, Navelbine Dx 1/2/2007, ILC, 6cm+, Stage IIIA, Grade 1, 1/17 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Dx 4/2/2012, ILC, 6cm+, Stage IV, Grade 1, 1/17 nodes, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2- Dx 6/1/2015, ILC, 6cm+, Stage IV, Grade 2, 1/17 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+ (FISH)
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Feb 6, 2014 11:42PM MusicLover wrote:

I'm definitely not "out" yet either but I have to say that I feel bad saying this because I say it to myself and I said it to my son a few hours ago, "I would rather have another cancer".  My feeling is that I place a lot of blame on myself for being stage IV from "the get-go".  My biggest problem is that I knew too much about the physical issues with this disease.  I literally was too afraid of getting a mastectomy and not afraid enough of loosing my life.  I don't think the other cancers can compare to breast cancer because bc leaves women traumatized in a different way and I don't care that Angelina Jolie made it look easy.  Read some of the threads for the early stagers and most of them are traumatized, after making the sacrifice of getting a mastectomy (I won't mention loosing hair to chemo because that may be the case with other cancers also), there is still a chance years later that the cancer will come back.  I would rather die of any other cancer because I know that some people who will attend my wake/funeral will be saying "She should have gotten to the dr. sooner, was she getting her annual mammograms?" (because some of my friends & my mom, said that too me in so many words). I think the feeling is that if a woman is doing the right thing this disease should be beaten hands down. So yep, give me something other than this disease.  Don't get me wrong I am praying that I get many more years because of all of the treatments available. In addition, there are different types of pancreatic cancer also, I just watched a video about Steve Job's pancreatic cancer and they said his was a treatable type. (Not to say that I am a cancer expert). 

Having said all of that, I wouldn't put an advertisement out saying that "My cancer is worse than yours".  Bottom line is that all cancer stinks!  I never really thought of if it too much until I was diagnosed, that once you have had cancer (any cancer) there is a cloud that hangs over your head until you die (right?). (Oh, how I wish the cancer fairy had passed right by my house and for that matter everyone else's house too).

As per PET scan, 3 or 4 nodules in the right breast, 2 of which were actually in the middle of my chest, the other 2 were side by side in the breast. Also DCIS in the left breast. Dx 9/23/2013, IDC, Right, 2cm, Stage IV, Grade 2, 1/0 nodes, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2- Hormonal Therapy 10/10/2013 Femara (letrozole)
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Feb 18, 2014 05:53PM DianeKS wrote:


I listened to your interview on the CBC radio show with Anna Marie Tremonti today.  Someone I know living with stage IV beast cancer listened to it and found it to be 'right on the money' and was pleased to hear metastatic disease spoken about in such an honest and thought provoking way.  She really identified with what you were saying...and on the national radio to boot.  Thank you for being such a great spokesperson!  If I knew how to link the interview I would.

BTW, how's the voting going with your video?


'Be thou a smooth way before me...'. Dx with mets to bones May, 2011, first dx 2006, BRACA2 Targeted Therapy 7/26/2013 Tykerb (lapatinib) Chemotherapy 9/5/2014 Gemzar (gemcitabine)
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Feb 18, 2014 10:15PM - edited Feb 18, 2014 10:17PM by EnglishMajor

Hey Diane

That is very kind. I was so nervous all my well thought out material flew out of my head. You can tell the pancreatic cancer woman is very experienced and polished. If nothing else I think I conveyed metastatic breast cancer sucks and we're pretty pissed off about being shoved aside.   I had to go to our NPR station very early and where I was in a studio with an engineer.  Next time I will do better.

I read the creative director's smug account of his firm' s brilliancy and of course I had to respond. What a tool.

thanks for asking about the film; the voting has ended and results will be announced at the end of the month. The photo-a-day woman had a huge FB account so I am guessing she probably outgunned me but we'll see!

Dx 7/6/2009, IDC, 3cm, Stage IV, Grade 3, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Feb 19, 2014 01:32AM raro wrote:

MusicLover, who is to say that a mammogram would have caught your cancer anyway? There are a LOT of women on these boards who did have mammograms and still ended up stage 4. So I wouldn't beat yourself up over it if I were you. You did the best you could, as we all have done. 

As to the ad, I think they did it precisely because they wanted a reaction. Because at least it would get people talking and thinking about it. 

I imagine, to be honest, that if I had pancreatic cancer, I might be disgusted with the perception that breast cancer gets all the attention and funding. Because until you actually research it, you have to admit, Komen and all the rest have done a great job giving the impression that we're winning the war on breast cancer. It's only when you look beyond the pink that you see the truth. And how many people actually look beyond the pink?

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