Is the Developed World We’ve Created Giving Us Cancer?

Friday, October 27, 2017

I had assumed that the small lump in my breast was a blocked milk duct from nursing my 7-month-old son. The news that I had stage 2 breast cancer stunned.

“But it’s not in my family,” I told the radiologist. “And I have a healthy lifestyle! Why did I get breast cancer?”
The Conversation
In one way or another, friends and relatives here in the U.S. asked the same question. Why had this happened to me? Their explanations coalesced around a single point: bad genes.

But when I told my friends and host family in Haiti, where I’ve been studying social and political life for the past decade, their reactions were different. They asked: Who had done this to me? Was a colleague angry? Was a family member getting revenge? Or was someone simply jealous, especially after the good year I’d had landing a new job, having a baby, buying a house, and having the Cubs win the World Series? Someone must have wished me ill will.

Hearing these interpretations awakened me from the foggy shock of the initial diagnosis, and I started to look at cancer with my professional eye as an anthropologist.

My first realization was that the Americans’ and Haitians’ answers were not so different. Both responses located breast cancer as something that happens to someone else—to someone saddled with bad family genes or someone who stokes jealousies. The responses shielded my kindred from acknowledging that cancer is something that could happen to anyone—that it could happen to them.

 

Full Article available at Sapiens

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