My Response to “I Wish I Had Breast Cancer”


In Response To I Wish I Had Breast Cancer

Kerry Harvey

By Holly Bertone is CEO & President of Pink Fortitude.

This has been weighing heavy on my heart since the story went viral in the cancer community.  Kerry Harvey, 25, the star of a UK pancreatic cancer awareness campaign said, “I wish I had breast cancer.”  She only has several months to live, and has been bombarded with outrage from all over the world, including death threats.  The goal of the commercial was to raise awareness and money for research for a very deadly form of cancer that does not get a lot of attention.

As a breast cancer survivor, I do agree that this ad may appear insensitive to fellow breast cancer survivors, and anyone who has had their lives devastated by breast cancer is certainly entitled to be upset.  If you have lost a loved one to breast cancer or if you have breast cancer, those six words spoken by Ms. Harvey are certainly ones you don’t want to hear.  But hear me out.  No cancer is good.  None of them.  I wouldn’t wish any cancer on anyone.   From what I understand, pancreatic cancer is one of the most painful forms of cancer, combined with a high mortality rate.   If you had pancreatic cancer, would you wish for an alternative?  If you had pancreatic cancer and only months to live, would you sit around and stew in your own misery?  Or would you have the courage to stand up and fight like Ms. Harvey?

When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer, a dear friend who was going through treatment for ovarian cancer made a similar comment.  She said that breast cancer was like the popular cancer sorority to be in because of all of the pink and awareness and campaigns.  She said that all of the other cancers take a back seat to breast cancer when it comes to research and money and awareness.  There is a lot of truth to what she said, however when I was bald, missing part of my breast and going through early menopause, I certainly did not feel like a popular sorority girl.  But because of all of the awareness and research given to breast cancer, I am alive today.

God blessed me with an early stage and non-aggressive form of breast cancer.  Because of my cancer, I have total clarity in life with what I am going to do as a result of being a survivor.  I have used this opportunity to be vocal about awareness and prevention and I host a large fundraiser every year in my home to support various breast cancer organizations.  Would I have wished for breast cancer?  Of course not.  But I can’t change the fact that I am a survivor.  I can only control what I do every day to try my best to inspire other survivors.

I know this ad has angered a lot of people.  Do you know what cancer is the worst of all?  The cancer of hate.  For the haters out there, hate on cancer, not on the person.  If you are going to take the time to comment or tweet, take the time to be kind and support a cancer organization.  Or take the time to do something nice for someone who has cancer.  Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with this controversy, use your voice to inspire your community of fellow cancer survivors.  We’re all in this fight together.  We need to support one another.  We need to love one another.  We need to find a cure and end ALL cancer.

Holly Bertone Breast Cancer Authority Blooger

Holly Bertone is originally from Waynesboro, PA. She holds a Master’s Degree from Johns Hopkins University, a Bachelor’s Degree from Elizabethtown College, and is a Project Management Professional (PMP). Holly is the CEO and President of Pink Fortitude, LLC, a company dedicated to promoting inspiration and positive self-esteem to cancer survivors and ALL women.

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Comments

  1. Mrs. Bertone,
    Given the fact that this ad has been very controversial, it is a difficult to judge whether it was successful or not. However, your perspective and understanding of the ad seem very admirable and respectful. I have observed many people, who themselves have breast cancer or have relatives with breast cancer, criticizing the ad for addressing cancer as a competition. It is very thoughtful and kind of you to understand the ad and its purpose, instead of feeling offended, as a survivor of breast cancer. I agree with you that this ad succeeded in getting attention from the public and raising awareness of the seriousness of pancreatic cancer, but I wonder if it could have been done in a better way that no one gets offended by it. I also understand the slogan, “I wish I had breast cancer,” because pancreatic cancer has only 3% of survival chance and it is relatively very small compared to other type of cancer, but it may be insulting the others who have experience with other forms of cancer. Although it is true that breast cancer has higher survival chance, comparison makes it seem like it is going for a competition to see which cancer is worse than the others. As you mentioned above, we need to find a cure for all forms of cancer, not just for one. It is not a matter of which cancer deserves to get more funding than the other. Also, the original intent of the ad was “to raise the awareness that while the survival rate for breast cancer is about 85% and for testicular cancer (the target of another ad featuring a man) is about 97%, the survival rate for pancreatic cancer is a mere 3%.” However, the way it approached to the public with the shocking slogan has created a negative feeling and had an ineffective impact on delivering the message. The slogan sounded like it is trivializing the breast cancer. If I were suffering from a horrible disease, I would not wish to have another disease which has a higher survival chance. Instead, I would wish to find a cure and get better. Although I understand that “a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer is basically seen as a death sentence,” and anyone with the pancreatic cancer would want to have a better chance of survival, I would not compare and belittle other disease. The ad certainly succeeded in getting public awareness of the pancreatic cancer, as we can see a lot of controversy and debate are created, but it has also made the public upset. Even though an ad has a good purpose of helping the society, it will not bring a big impact on the society as it intended to if it does not deliver the message in appropriate way. I really appreciate how you are understanding the ad and do not get offended, and the ad would not have been this controversial if others were also comprehensive of the ad’s good purpose of helping the society to improve. I respect the ads like this with positive objective and I wish that their messages can be delivered to the public without creating any misunderstanding.

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    • Hi Jina – Thank you so much for taking the time to comment and share your thoughts. I recently read an article on some research on what makes an advertisement effective. This one certainly received it’s share of visibility. Share peace today. Hugs, Holly

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  2. I love your response. As a breast cancer survivor also, I can appreciate anyone’s personal feelings. Cancer is a journey no one wants to walk, but being allowed to respond honestly without getting hate mail is important. We are all in this together.

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    • hollybertone says:

      Dear Karen – Thank you for taking the time to stop by and comment and for your kind words. We are all warrior sisters in this battle together. Share love today. Hugs, Holly

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  3. justagirlabby says:

    What a beautiful response, Holly! As always, I admire your outlook and perspective! Hugs!

    ~Abby =)

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    • hollybertone says:

      Hi Abby – Thank you for stopping by to read the article and I know you know more than anyone how we all have to stick together in this. Share blessings today. Hugs, Holly

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  4. Holly, you’ve just done it again., shown your courage, kindness and wisdom. These are 3 of the reasons I admire you so and am proud to call you my friend!

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    • hollybertone says:

      Dear Susan, Thank you for your sweet words and the feeling is mutual. We as friends lift each other up to help others. Share peace today. Hugs, Holly

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  5. I think this was well said. I don’t think that people should attack others for what they feel. I have a relative that just passed from pancreatic cancer – she found out she had it just over a month ago. It was horrible and painful and I am sure there were times when she wished it would have been a cancer with more curable rates. Thanks so much for sharing this and I am so glad you are healthy and able to share your story.

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    • hollybertone says:

      Dear Cynthia – Thank you for sharing your story and my heart goes out to you about your relative that passed. Pancreatic cancer is horrible and painful, like you said. Thank you for your kind words and share love today. Hugs, Holly

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  6. Great post!

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  7. hollybertone says:

    Dear Karen – I too, pray for a day when there is no more cancer in the world. When I was first diagnosed, my doctor said that she has never seen a more closer knit group of women than breast cancer survivors. I hope that whether we agree or disagree, we can support not just each other, but ALL cancer survivors. Blessings to you and your family. Share love and kindness today. Hugs, Holly

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  8. The point of the ad was to get attention, as that is the point of all ads. Many choose to blame another disease for getting more attention. I remember 20 years ago many in the breast cancer community expressed this against/about the AIDS community.

    We need a BIGGER PIE, never to attack each other. IMHO, we and other nations spend WAY TOO MUCH on wars and way too little on real prevention (aka Risk Reduction). Industry controls what studies take place and what is studied matters. That’s one reason we hear and see SO LITTLE on environmental causes. But that can change if ALL OF US work together.
    I founded a cancer advocacy nonprofit (all-volunteer) providing information about natural cancer strategies (mostly ignored due to lack of patentability – should that stop us?) Annie Appleseed Project

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    • hollybertone says:

      Dear Ann – Thank you so much for taking the time to comment and I agree – the whole point of the ad was to get attention. Mission accomplished. I can’t wait to stop by and learn about the Annie Appleseed Project. Share love and kindness today. Hugs, Holly

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  9. Your response was beautiful to a woman obviously in much physical and emotional pain. I have heard this sentiment from other women with ovarian cancer frustrated with the amount of research and media coverage provided to breast cancer survivors. At this very moment, I have three friends battling colon cancer (one for six years). I lost my mother to breast cancer and I am a breast cancer survivor. I understand that this woman is coming from a “place” of pain. I pray for the day when all cancer is a disease of the past.

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  10. Glad to see someone write with some compassion for the women in this add… That she is a person and she will die soon seems to be lost on all these people who have risen up in anger…

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  11. Excellent response, full of compassion and understanding and enlightening. Thanks for this and all you do. Have a good day.

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  12. Love your message of kindness, even when we disagree. Your post is spot on. Have a great day!

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    • hollybertone says:

      Dear Lightscanceraction – Thank you so much for taking the time to read this article and for your sweet comment. Blessings to you and be sure to share love today! Hugs, Holly

      Like

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