Monday, 5 October 2009

Cancer of the Lady Bits

It's not pleasant to talk about, and quite frankly I could quite happily go my entire life without ever asking or mentioning it to anybody, but women's cancers need more hype. They do. The cervical cancer jab has been rolled out throughout the country, and I'm sure that many of you are aware of the negative press that has surrounded this particular life-saving treatment - be aware that it's the same people who get into major hysterical flaps over the MMR jab who are trash-talking it. If you want a sane voice in an insane world, as always, Ben Goldacre is your man. The guy nerdy enough to know the truth, but with curly enough hair for you to just think he's a bit of a cutie. But earnest enough for you to shut up and be sensible. According to something called "facts" (but who cares about them, right?), the poor girl who unfortunately died after having been administered the vaccine suffered also from complications made by an undiagnosed tumour in her chest.

Nevertheless, this has done nothing to halt the speed at which the middle-market press has leapt on vaguely hilarious conspiracy theories by the hairy ears and rode them all the way to Sillytown. Headlines like Jab "as deadly as the cancer" (Daily Express, 05/10/09)helpfully convey a possible risk to worried parents who are quite rightly concerned about a vaccine being administered to their sproglings without much information as to what it does, how the tests went or what the side effects may be. Somewhat apologetically I also want to show you the Daily Mail's position on the vaccine: "Paralysis, Epilepsy and Blurred Vision" were reported to be major side-effects as far back as March 2009 by the ever-elusive DAILY MAIL REPORTER (doesn't have a personal email address...not sure they are a real person) but as you read on you find out that more commonly reported maladies were rashes or "swelling on the injection site". I've got a bloody scar where my TB jab was stabbed into my skin - does that mean they're going to stop giving it to people? I fucking hope not. Let's stop the giddiness and calm down for a minute, eh? What do we stand to gain from banning a possible treatment that will seriously cut down the number of cases of cervical cancer? In comparison it seems there is no argument - would we like to be immunised against cancer? Of course we would. It's a stupid question.

Fear mongering comes part and parcel with new medications and medicinal breakthroughs. People are suspicious of government-led operations to vaccinate the population, partly because people want to believe in conspiracy theories to brighten up their lives (surely this isn't it? There must be something else going on? I call these people "Dan Brownists" or "prannocks") but mostly because they are understandably wary about having a new medication pumped into theirs or their childrens' bodies with only a brightly-coloured, informationless TV ad informing them about it, and tabloid headlines waving their arms around claiming that it's the beginning of The Rapture. What we need to do is inform ourselves if nobody else is going to do it for us - google the jab, look up it's side effects and test trials, weigh up the pros and cons. Use your head and decide what's best for yourself. If you believe everything you read then so be it, but your child may not feel as lenient as I do should the worst happen in the future. Not being harsh, just saying.

If anything good has come from the coverage though, it is this: people are becoming aware of cervical cancer now. They know it exists, they know who it effects, and they know how they can stop it. If you're too old to get the jab given to you (like me), go for regular smear tests. See your doctor regularly. Sign a petition to get smear tests made available to under 25 year olds. Breast cancer has it's own brand of pink clothes, badge and shopping bags; cervical cancer needs to be recognised as a real killer too.

To raise awareness and in support of such a worthy cause, the Lovely and Talented Lauren Holden (that's her full title if you're in my house) and the ever-so stylish Sharon from Passport to Style have decided to spend this week creating a blog bonanza, filled with competitions, interviews and guest bloggers. You'll learn something, read new people's work and might even win something nice. What's not to like? Clicky clicky to have a look - go on, it's girly, but I won't tell.


Lauren said...

Thanks Katie love, you're ace.
Let me take you out for a pub lunch x

Katie said...

Done :D A pub lunch is an offer I can't resist!

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