Once upon a time, there was a time when leg braces and iron lungs were what rescued victims that were struck down by polio. There was a time when young children collected dimes and put them into slots on cards, and then mailed them to the March Of Dimes to fund the development of a vaccine to prevent polio. Back then, people knew the value of prevention. They had no intention of running around in circles to fight a disease if they could, instead, prevent it.
There was a time when no one cared, or even dared, to make money off disease. Of course, back then, there was little money to be made. Not like now. (Have you taken a look at the compensation packages of the CEO’s of insurance companies and drug manufacturers? Don’t, not if your heart is weak.)
There was a time when a polio vaccine was found, but it had shortcomings. And, so, a better one was made. That one that came on a sugar cube. There was a time when everyone was given the polio vaccine. And then there was a time when polio simply went away because everyone was vaccinated and the virus had no way to land and thrive in the human population any more.
And then there followed a time when all the iron lungs and leg braces were tossed because they were no longer needed. And now there is a time when no one, at least in developed countries, even thinks of polio because it has become so much a thing of the past that is seems like a distant, Grimm fairy tale. Once upon a time.
Imagine a world without mammograms. Without breast biopsies. Without lumpectomies. Without mastectomies. Without reconstructive surgeries. Without sentinel lymph node biopsies. Without axillary dissections. Without prosthesis and mastectomy bras. Without lymphedema. Without chemotherapy. Without wigs. Without central ports. Without endless blood draws and needle sticks. Without relentless co-pays that only the CEO’s can afford. Without radiation therapy and skin burns. Without targeted therapies: no tamoxifen, no aromatase inhibitors, no Her2-neu monoclonal antibodies, no PARP inhibitors, no checkpoint inhibitors. Without pink ribbons, except on little girls. Without races. Without walks. Without stand up-to TV specials whose leaders have been disgraced.
Imagine a world in which the cause of breast cancer has been irrefutably traced to the virus that causes breast cancer in mice, rats, cats, and monkeys: the one that has been implicated in hundreds of peer-reviewed journals as playing a role in 40-94% of human breast cancer. Imagine a world in which the scientists who hold all the patents that form the lynchpins for the development of a preventive breast cancer vaccine offer them up – for a price, of course, in this brave new world – so that breast cancer goes the way of polio, into the history books where it is otherwise forgotten.
Cinnabon has as its tag line, “Life needs frosting.” That’s a nice story aimed at moving product. Well, our breasts need a nice story too. Our breasts need the protective frosting of a preventive breast cancer vaccine. I’d like to see that kind of frosting ringed around every single one of the 7 billion breasts that are now at risk. Yes, wouldn’t life be sweet if we could have a new story in which we forget about mammograms and all the rest, and put this disease to bed?