Laurie Becklund: Treat me like a statistic and save my life (16:09)

Former writer for the L.A. Times Laurie Becklund, Senior Fellow, USC Annenberg, presents at Stanford Medicine X at Stanford University on Sunday, September 7, 2014. She died at age 66 from metastatic breast cancer (the spread of cancer to different parts of the body, most often the bones, liver, lungs or brain). Becklund’s cancer went to all four sites. “The system we live in as metastatic breast cancer patients,” Becklund retorts, “is simply not designed to deal with the cycle we are living and dying in.”

Pink Ribbons Inc. (2:06 min.)

Pink Ribbons, Inc. directed by Léa Pool is a feature documentary that shows how the devastating reality of breast cancer, which marketing experts have labeled a “dream cause,” has been hijacked by a shiny, pink story of success. Based on a book by Samantha King, Pink Ribbons Inc: Breast Cancer and the Politics of Philanthropy, the film “resoundingly pops the shiny pink balloon of the breast cancer movement/industry, debunking the ‘comfortable lies’ and corporate double-talk that permeate the massive and thus-far-ineffectual campaign against a disease that claims nearly 60,000 lives each year in North America alone.”

Rentdownload to own or buy DVD. Read a review » Read a BCC review »

Breast Cancer Action Featured on The Daily Show, Explaining Pinkwashing and Pink Fracking Drill Bits (5:11 min.)

Pinkwashing For A Cure (2:17 min.)

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart: The Pharmaceutical Drug Epidemic (5:57 min.)

This episode features Professor Peter C Gøtzsche of The Nordic Cochrane Collaboration as part of a feature about the pharmaceutical industry and the marketing of prescription addictions. Gøtzsche is author of “Rational Diagnosis and Treatment. Evidence-Based Clinical Decision-Making” (2007), “Mammography Screening: truth, lies and controversy” (2012), and “Deadly medicines and organised crime: How big pharma has corrupted health care” (2013).

Marketing to Doctors” on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

This eye-opening video reveals how pharmaceutical companies spend billions of dollars every year marketing drugs to you and your doctors.

A study in 2013 found that 9 out of 10 of the top ten drug manufacturers spent more on marketing than they did on research and development (R&D). Big Pharma spends nearly $4 billion per year marketing drugs to consumers through direct advertising. All of the ads end with the same catchy phrase, “Ask your doctor.” The industry spends nearly $24 billion each year marketing to doctors (with free lunches and dinners, speaking fees, free samples, and other incentives) to encourage them to prescribe their drugs. Then, they monitor the sales and use that information to exert more pressure on doctors. According to a study by the Mayo Clinic, 70 percent of Americans take at least one prescription drug and more than half of Americans take two. There were more than 4 billion prescriptions written in 2011. In 2013, spending on prescription drugs grew 3 percent, totaling more than $329 billion.

Gayle Sulik at Siena College (9:51 min.)

Breast Cancer Consortium founder Gayle Sulik spoke at Siena College about how advocacy, publicity, and mass marketing created a culture that transformed breast cancer from an important woman’s health problem to a popular item for public consumption. Co-sponsored by the Sociology Department, Sr. Thea Bowman Center for Women, Women’s Studies, The Office of Academic Community Engagement within the Franciscan Center for Service and Advocacy, and Capital Region Action Against Breast Cancer.

The Battle We Didn’t Choose (5:44 min.)

Breast Cancer Consortium member Angelo Merendino shares why he photographed his wife Jennifer’s experiences with breast cancer. Angelo and Jen got married on September 1st, 2007. Five months after their wedding Jennifer was diagnosed with breast cancer. In December 2011 Jen died. At times during Jen’s treatment they realized that family and friends did not understand how serious their life had become. Jennifer let Angelo photograph their day to day life so they could let them in on it.

Website: The Battle We Didn’t Choose

Breast Cancer Social Media (#BCSM) – Part of a Social Movement to Reclaim Breast Cancer Awareness (2:33 min.)

The online chat, known as BCSM — or breast cancer social media — has a growing following of men and women looking to share stories, empower patients and change the national conversation on breast cancer. BCC member and breast cancer survivor, Jody Schoger, co-founded the group. She and her fellow organizers — who became friends online months before meeting face to face —  bring unique talents. Schoger is a writer with a background in public relations. Alicia Staley, 41, is a three-time cancer survivor from Boston, as well as an information technology analyst and online community manager. The third member of the team, California breast surgeon Deanna Attai, joined BCSM during its second chat and quickly became a co-moderator.

Full story » Scroll down the page to view the USA Today Video on #BCSM

The Story of Cosmetics (8:18 min.)

The cosmetics industry uses more than 10,000 chemicals in its products, in everything from lipstick and lotion to shampoo and shaving cream. In fact, shampoos, makeup, lotions, perfumes and other cosmetics for sale today can contain ingredients linked to breast cancer, infertility, birth defects and other serious health problems. The Breast Cancer Fund has teamed up with the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics to enlist organizations, businesses and citizen activists to shift the cosmetics market toward safer products and demand government oversight.

The Breast Biologues: A biology dialogue about breast cancer and the environment (17:58 min.)

The Breast Biologues is an animated video that explains how the normal breast develops and how exposure to potential cancer-causing chemicals at specific times during breast development may influence future breast cancer risk. The video is part of an educational toolkit that includes a narrative comic book. It was developed by the Bay Area Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Center, one of four centers in the U.S. tasked with studying environmental causes of breast cancer by focusing on mammary gland development during puberty when the breast may be particularly vulnerable to environmental influences. In 2010, the Centers transitioned to the Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Program, a nationwide network of grants jointly funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Cancer Institute. The project is a result of the collaboration between Lori Schkufza, an animation consultant; basic science researchers: Dr. Zena Werb at the University of California, San Francisco, Dr. Paul Yaswen at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and Dr. Mary Helen Barcellos-Hoff at New York University Langone School of Medicine; and Casandra Aldsworth and Janice Barlow at Zero Breast Cancer, the grant’s Community Partner. ©2010 Bay Area Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Center

NYT Retro VideoHopeful Glimmers in Long War on Cancer (12:52 min.)

The New York Times Retro Report video examines the “war on cancer” — a federal research initiative authorized by President Richard M. Nixon in 1971. Many anticipated quick results, in part because of the public relations campaign, complete with ads suggesting we could cure cancer by the bicentennial, that successfully pushed Mr. Nixon into making the commitment.

Overtreatment in America (16:38 min.)

Aggressive treatment is estimated to cause 30,000 deaths among Medicare recipients alone each year. Unnecessary interventions are estimated to account for 10-30% of spending on healthcare in the US, or $250B-$800B annually. This video features Shannon Brownlee, acting director of the New America Health Policy Program and author of Overtreated: How Too Much Medicine is Making Us Sicker and Poorer, David Himmelstein, professor at the City University of New York School of Public Health, and Vikas Saini, a Harvard cardiologist and president of the Lown Cardiovascular Research Foundation.

TED Talk ScreenshotBen Goldacre: What doctors don’t know about the drugs they prescribe (13:29 min.)

When a new drug gets tested, the results of the trials should be published for the rest of the medical world — except much of the time, negative or inconclusive findings go unreported, leaving doctors and researchers in the dark. In this impassioned talk on TED, Ben Goldacre explains why these unreported instances of negative data are especially misleading and dangerous. TEDTalks is a daily video podcast of the best talks and performances from the TED Conference.

Carl Sagan’s Last Interview: The Political Significance of Public Engagement with Science (2:33 min.)

“We live in an age based in science and technology, with formidable science and technological powers.  If the general public doesn’t understand it, then who’s making all of the decisions about science and technology that are going to determine the kind of future our children will live in? If we are not able to ask skeptical questions to interrogate those who tell us something is true, to be skeptical of those in authority, then we’re up for grabs. People need to be educated, and practice their education and their skepticism.”

Breast Cancer and Mammograms (5:28 min.)

KTTV-LA FOX news interviewed breast cancer surgeon Dr. Deanna Attai about the risks of mammograms. The interview centers on a study showing that women under age 30 who have a mutation on one of the breast cancer genes (BRCA) may increase their risk of breast cancer if they start having mammograms at a young age. An American Cancer Society spokesperson is quoted to say that women should “just be careful that the x-rays you get are really the ones that you need.” Dr. Attai explains that the decision is not so clear.

Male breast cancer accounts for approximately one percent of all breast cancer cases diagnosed in the United States each year. Listen to male breast cancer patient, Oliver Bogler, phD and his MD Anderson Cancer Center oncologist, Sharon Giordano, MD talk about male breast cancer, including the research, treatment, and Bogler’s experience as a “man in pink.”

Listen to audio on Youtube »

Barbara Ehrenreich on the Cult of Positive Thinking (14 min.)

In her book Bright-Sided, author Barbara Ehrenreich documents what she says is the destructive power of the positive thinking movement in the United States, from breast cancer to the workplace, to the economy, to politics as a whole. Ehrenreich opens the book by writing about her own experience with breast cancer culture after being diagnosed with the disease in 2000. She says in the prevailing positive thinking culture of America, breast cancer patients are urged to avoid feeling angry and instead find meaning and even uplift in the disease. She writes, “In the most extreme characterization, breast cancer is not a problem at all, not even an annoyance — it is a ‘gift,’ deserving of the most heartfelt gratitude.”

“Smile or Die” – Optimism as a Form of Social Control (10:23 min.)

The RSA Animate series was conceived as an innovative, accessible and unique way of illustrating and sharing the world-changing ideas from the RSA’s free public events programme. An animation of journalist, author and political activist Barbara Ehrenreich explores the darker side of positive thinking, an idea that speaks to the limitations of optimism in the cancer world as well. Her book Bright-Sided includes writing about her own experience with breast cancer culture after being diagnosed with the disease in 2000 and her exposure to the cultural mandate of positivity.

Breast Portrait Project (4:56 min.)

Artist Clarity Haynes works with soft drawing media on paper to create large-scale, archetypal portraits of women. Her portraits seek to subvert traditional expectations and to convey a sense of freedom and fluidity of identity. She writes: “Historically, the painted portrait signifies privilege, beauty, and social power. I choose to portray real women’s bodies, which are often invisible in this culture. The time and attention to detail inherent in the portrait process make the intrinsic statement that this body is beautiful and worthy.


Naked, A Photo-Portrait (Slide Show)

NAKED is a reportage by photographer Claudia Hehr. It is a raw and revealing portrait of a woman confronting death. In making her body an art project and her suffering a political force, NAKED illuminates the power of vulnerability.


Rudyanto Wijaya/

When Prolonging Death is Worse Than Death (Audio – 37:54 min.)

Terry Gross interview on Fresh Air from WHYY, National Public Radio. Many of us think of death as the worst possible outcome for a terminally ill patient, but Judith Schwarz disagrees. Schwarz, a patient supporter at the nonprofit Compassion & Choices, says prolonging death can be a far worse fate. For many patients, good palliative or hospice care can alleviate suffering, yet “a small but significant proportion of dying patients suffer intolerably,” Schwarz writes.

Transcript » Listen to the Story

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