The deadly apathy/writer’s block combo, which results from intermittently spasmodic crystalline antimatter anomalies in the obstreperal lobe — brought on, no doubt, by extended megatheocorporatocratic interference — is also responsible for my having chucked college, all my rock bands, my juicy restaurant critic gig, and of course, my science fiction novel.
But today I crawl out of my lair to present something for you fans of pictorial cancer blogs. Reader Julia emailed me recently with a link to her mastectomy website. Quoth Julia:
When I was going to have my mastectomy I tried to look up surgery photos online and couldn’t find any. This is understandable; women don’t often want to be photographed topless and especially not when they’re frightened and vulnerable. There’s also a very small window of opportunity to decide whether or not to photograph something like that and figure out how to make it happen. Since I couldn’t find photos when I wanted them, however, I decided to figure out how to make it happen. I had my entire mastectomy photographed as well as my hysterectomy and my port installation and a bunch of other things.
Julia does not lie; there are no mastectomy photos online. Veteran blamers may recall that I (and I’m sure I’m not the only one who has done this) uploaded a few gross post-operative pix featuring my staples and blood-bags and bruises and scars and so forth (see below), but it never occurred to me to document the actual surgeries, on accounta I’m stupid, and besides that shit makes me hurl.
Julia’s hypothesis — that women don’t feel like flaunting their chests on the internet when they’re sick with a fatal disease — is right on the money, but I submit that there’s more to this dearth of mastectomy documentation than that.
I allude, as so I often do, to repellent social mores oozing forth from the Cult of Breast Cancer Survivorism: the brutality of treatment must be hidden from view if the cancer-industrial complex is to continue flourishing (at the expense of sick women) in the opulent manner to which it is accustomed. As per the Global Accords Governing Breast Cancer Patient Behavior, the breast cancer patient doesn’t photograph her surgery. The breast cancer patient (unless she has the effrontery to die from her disease) is a Survivor ™, a dainty little pink teddy-bear-lovin’ non-feminist who has bravely put all that unpleasantness behind her, who purports to have experienced immeasurable personal growth as a result of her illness. Meanwhile, as an ambassador for The Cure, she wears a pink scarf to protect the world from her scary chemo baldness. Her amputated breasts are “reconstructed” so the boob-lovin’ public won’t have to confront the horror of her amputations.* She’s a fighter, but not an activist. She’s plucky, but doesn’t challenge the status quo. As Samantha King writes in the enlightening Pink Ribbons, Inc:
[Women] are discouraged from questioning the underlying structures and guiding assumptions of the cancer-industrial complex. The culture of breast cancer survivorship does not, in other words, embrace patient-empowerment as a way to mobilize critical engagement with biomedical research, anger at governmental inactionk or resistance to social discrimination and inequality, even if its history is bound up with attempts to do just this.”
People can’t find out how really fucking gross treatment is, because if they did they might start thinking, hey, maybe preventing breast cancer — as opposed to waiting for women to get sick and then slamming them with a series of debilitating, barbaric procedures — is a good idea. But prevention is not in the interests of the megatheocorporatocracy. There is just too much filthy lucre to be made from selling the romantic notion of “cure.”
So, thanks, Julia, for pioneering the field of Internetian (rhymes with “Venetian”) breast amputation documentarism.
Also, fucking nice tattoo, girlfriend!
* I never miss a golden opportunity to poop on the concept of breast reconstruction. This surgery serves no purpose except to appease the patriarchal demand for femininity by preserving the appearance of funbags. It’s not like the procedure actually reconstructs a breast (a breast is not a lump of abdominal fat relocated to the chest. A breast contains a functional mammary gland to nurse infants.). What this reconstruction procedure does is, it constructs a totally useless, cumbersome protuberance. The only reconstruction going on is the reconstruction of the patient’s feminine compliance. Nobody’s telling dude breast cancer patients to reconstruct their manboobs.
Inevitably, women who have opted for reconstruction will take offense at these remarks. Don’t be silly, reconstructed women. Patriarchy, not you personally, is to blame for the expectation that you endure more surgeries than are necessary for your health. Post-operative fancy-free flat-chestiness is a luxury enjoyed only by a fortunate few who can afford to spit in the eye of the Beauty Ultimatum.