An important message but …

This picture is making its way around the ‘net. Just about any message that points out the great injustice of our health care system gets positive points from me. But I’m a bit worried about the accuracy of his message. For why, see below:

So what worries could one have?  Actually, the flaws in the picture seem so obvious, that I’m having trouble believing they are real.  I mean, it would be pretty easy to get someone who actually looked like they had chemo, or at least the guy could have shaved and they could have hidden his hair under a cap. 

Here are some worries, then, given that his rads and chemo ended in August and his surgery was in May, and judging from my own case.  All I’m supposing is that the picture was taken after the rads and chemo. 

1.  If that scar is from a May operation then it looks way too red.   Four months after surgery about half my scar is now back to my normal skin color.

2.  Chemo really does a job on hair, including eyebrows and beard.  How long it takes to grow back varies, but it takes a long time just to get fuzz.

3.  That does not look like a recently radiated nipple to me.  Radiation changes the color of that  tissue and it takes some time to recover.  Plus, it is surprising the nipple was left; that’s not too unusual, but that “incision” is pretty big and would indicate the cancer wassignificant.  It’s often safer to take the nipple.

4.  Cancer does not automatically make one unemployed, contrary to what he seems to suggest.  It certainly can, but it is far from automatic.

One lesson here:  if you think someone at work is wearing a wig, don’t assume it is from superficial vanity.  They may be one of the employed cancer patients.

Further, the person at work may be hiding the cancer.  It is unbelievable how badly some people treat cancer patients.  Many, many people have very bad experiences.

2 thoughts on “An important message but …

  1. About points one and two….
    I’ve had major surgery four times now. (I spend a ridiculous amount of time and money on medical stuff.) I’ve scars that healed like yours and scars that healed like his–from the exact same type of surgery. Healing and recovery from surgery is complicated and can take years. It can be different depending on the person, their circumstances, stress, diet, pre-surgery health, etc.
    And as a priest who has worked with many cancer patients, some types of chemo have more effect on hair than others. Personally, when I had radiation, I lost more hair than usual but not so much that anyone else would notice.
    I can’t speak to point three.
    About point four, his sign seems to say that he isn’t unemployed because of the cancer but because he needed to be making less money so that he could be on insurance to cover the cancer treatments.

    I don’t know if this story is accurate or not. It does fit in with the message of health care reform quite well. But there are a lot of true stories that do.

  2. Robin,

    Good point about the scar. I’m less sure about the chemo. There are standard routes for breast cancer treatment and I’ve never heard of anyone escaping the hair fate except through measures that wouldn’t spare the beard. Still, there are exceptions. I should say I didn’t have chemo.

    I still have a hard time believing in rads. If you go through rads where I did, you spend time waiting day after day with others going through it. I was incredibly fortunate and, with the technicians kept saying they’d never seen anyone else as little affect. And this was a very major cancer center where they see people from all over the world. But I think I still look a bit worse than he does, and everyone else was having a much harder time.

    And he does say cancer removed my ability to work.

    Still, I’d be alright being wrong. I do wonder, though, just what they took out. Obviously, men and women are going to be different in the breast reaction, and some people do actually initially swell up, but I’m surprised that the incision is the only visible effect.

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