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LINDA BELLINGHAM CANCER A SEXY ILLNESS.

26 REPLIES 26

Re: LINDA BELLINGHAM CANCER A SEXY ILLNESS.

Whilst I agree with most that the term "sexy" was possibly unfortunate, one thing I do know is that without the "pink and fluffy" fundraising for BC, we probably would not have the facilities to carry out this discussion.

All long term, chronic and life threatening illnesses deserve and should have the appropriate funding from the government; no illness is better or worse than another, when you or yours is affected by it.

I am at the first stages of dealing with my cancer, and its effects on me and mine, but one thing I do know, all the information and support that is available from this charity and others, is making it a little more bearable.

Just my pennyworth!!

Re: LINDA BELLINGHAM CANCER A SEXY ILLNESS.

Good for you in writing to her. I understood what she was trying to say but nevertheless find usage of the word 'sexy' completely unnecessary and jarring when discussing health issues.
Thanks very much for passing on the gist of her letter and all credit to her for responding and apologising. Elinda

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Re: LINDA BELLINGHAM CANCER A SEXY ILLNESS.

hi. my wife was diagnosed with BC in 2009. she was upset at lynda bellinghams 'sexy illness' comment a few weeks back. i wrote to Mrs Bellingham explaining that although i appreciated her comment had not intended to cause offence my wife had nevertheless been upset by it. I received a handwritten response from her today apologising unreservedly. She explained that she had been trying to highlight that the methods of presentation used by various charities were "sexy" and that she no way intended to use the phrase in relation to cancer as an illness. She also explained that the interview had been edited and that her full explanation to that effect may not have come across. I just wanted to pass on the gist of mrs bellingham's letter to anyone else who may have been upset by her comment. Thanks for reading this. Best wishes to everyone. P.

Re: LINDA BELLINGHAM CANCER A SEXY ILLNESS.

I think the terminology was unfortunate, but she probably meant that as far as campaigning is concerned, cancer has a stronger political lobby than Alzheimer disease (and therefore gets more media attention).
While this might be a fair point, I don't see what this comparison can add to the alzheimer campaign.

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Re: LINDA BELLINGHAM CANCER A SEXY ILLNESS.

I fully appreciate that pinkification/sexiness/cuddliness all contribute to fundraising for breast cancer causes, but that mindset is really concentrating on primary breast cancer because that can be 'cured' and people can get one with their lives. I feel that secondary breast cancer is very much ignored and I have spent a lot of time educating family and friends on the fact that I am terminally ill and not it isn't curable like it seems to be presented in the popular media!

I also strongly feel that it shouldn't be a case of who shouts loudest gets heard, but unfortunately that seems the way the world is. Who knew or cared about Ethiopia in the 80s until it was rammed into our faces. So it seems to fall back on positive media coverage.

Yes, I am grateful that breast cancer is receiving funding and yes, I do feel bad that other illnesses do not get so much attention.

But, no, like any other terminal or debilitating disease it is not sexy and yes it does rankle me too when people refer to breast cancer as sexy. Equally though we are all at liberty to express our opinions and choose our own wording, even if that may cause offence. I'd hate to live in a world where we all had to have the same opinion and use the same terminology. That would be far too boring.

Snoogle
x

Re: LINDA BELLINGHAM CANCER A SEXY ILLNESS.

I agree with you Cherub. As you say, an unfortunate turn of phrase....but one that rankles nevertheless!

Julie x

Re: LINDA BELLINGHAM CANCER A SEXY ILLNESS.

She has used an unfortunate turn of phrase, but I can understand where she is coming from and what she is trying to say. I lost my dad to health issues related to advanced vascular dementia 12 months prior to my own diagnosis of BC. I am not joking when I say that spending 2 years watching my dad losing his mental and cognitive function, along with the pain of witnessing him not knowing who any of his children were any longer was actually worse for me than having to deal with my own situation. To a certain extent I still had some control whereas my dad had none. A couple of months before he died he looked like that Munch painting "The Scream" and in the last week of his life refused all food and drink because he'd had enough. It is 5 years since he died next month and I find those last memories of him quite disturbing. A sad end for a brave 88 year old who served his country in WW2, then did a hard job as a miner without complaint. He was also a widower before retirement.

Alzheimers/dementia is something I would not wish on anyone or their family and often the carers who struggle with it 24/7 are just forgotten. I looked after my dad for a year before he went into care, at that point he was in the earlier stages but it was hard enough. I do not know how people look after their loved ones once they have lost all their faculties to the disease. I know 2 people who are juggling businesses and elderly mums in the early to middle stages of Alzheimers and they are under phenomenal pressure (one also has a daughter with a rare heart condition to worry about).

In an ideal world all serious illnesses would be given equal treatment. I look at my own lot from the point of view that BC isn't the only thing that can kill me, there are plenty of other killer diseases out there which are just as horrible if not worse.

Re: LINDA BELLINGHAM CANCER A SEXY ILLNESS.

I think you have summed it up very neatly, Debs. I have worked for various charities and remember at a fundraising seminar being reminded by the trainer that it is so much easier to fundraise for what he described as "cuddly causes", meaning children and animals. More difficult for science and environmental (tho that may have changed a bit in the intervening years) and very difficult for older people and mental health. His advice to us as an adult disability charity was to get our Chair's guide dog into all publicity photos! The pinkification (which personally I detest) is all about turning us into a cuddly cause - and it works. We just have to decide whether or not we find it acceptable. There have always been debates about what money it is or is not appropriate to accept and I'm sure there always will be.

I'm pleased that you got the apology, Leicesternewport, and I think it illustrates why we should say when we find something offensive. It has to be done in a polite and reasoned way, of course, but we can't expect people to know if we don't tell them.

With regard to the use of language, I think it depends on the setting. I am quite happy to speak colloquially with friends and close colleagues but it wouldn't cross my mind to do so in an important business meeting, when delivering an academic paper or giving a press interview on behalf of my organisation. This is particularly important where there could be offence or ambiguity. To use a slang expression, as I consider the bc bond makes it appropriate here and it isn't open to ambiguity, it's horses for courses!

Eliza

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Re: LINDA BELLINGHAM CANCER A SEXY ILLNESS.

English is a living language and the meanings of words continually change over time.

The context in which Linda used the word sexy, is appropriate, but perhaps potentially insensitive. She is not describing the effect the disease has on someone, she is describing the general public's attitude to the disease and fund-raising for it. In this context, sexy does not mean sexual, it means something that people are willing to align themselves with and is more high profile.

I think we should all count ourselves lucky that bc is so 'sexy' to the media, because without it many more of us would be dead and none of us would have received the very high level of treatment that we have.

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Re: LINDA BELLINGHAM CANCER A SEXY ILLNESS.

A few weeks ago John Humphries on Radio 4 used the word "sexy" to highlight the medias view and presentation of breastcancer.He was coming from the point of view of all the celebrities that are publicly describing their diagnosis and treatments, in comparision to other less often highlighted cancer illnesses,I was very upset when hearing it and did complain and recieved an email in appology,stating that no offence had been meant!
It is worrying that this is perhaps a general perception or maybe it is how we use our language?

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Re: LINDA BELLINGHAM CANCER A SEXY ILLNESS.

I agree with Juliet66. Unfortunately, these days words are used to describe things that are totally unrelated.. Not defending LindaBellingham but think she just chose a 'modern' word to describe her feelings and missed the mark!

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Re: LINDA BELLINGHAM CANCER A SEXY ILLNESS.

I have nothing against lynda bellingham but she could have chosen her description of breast cancer better, no illness wether it be Altzheimers, cancer of any type or illnesses that arn't life-threatning be described as sexy, i just find it incredibly stupid of someone with any intellegence describing it as such.
Just me
Reneexx

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Re: LINDA BELLINGHAM CANCER A SEXY ILLNESS.

Juliet, I couldn't agree with you more, cancer - of any sort - is not sexy, but sadly neither is Alzheimers, losing a limb or suffering from PTSD as a serviceman/woman. I find the whole marketing of "BC the charity" very offensive but have come to accept that my view is not widely shared, even amongst those who've experienced BC first hand. Amongst my circle of friends are a number of people who work for large charities and from them I have learned that they are struggling as much as any other business. As a result, many charities are looking with envious eyes at the successful marketing campaign that is the pinkification of BC. That knowledge makes me emotionally weary, but I'm trying to distance myself from the (inevitably) self-involved reaction I am having.

In this particular situation, I know that I am finding it easier to be a bit more detatched as I have a serious conflict. Alzheimers has affected both sides of my family and if there is a genetic link, I am seriously screwed. The knowledge that the difference in funding between BC and Alzheimers is is so enormous had a tremendous impact on me. Because its not about boobs but about being bonkers, the marketeers will struggle to make it attractive to those putting their hands in their pockets ... and that makes me weep.

It would be wonderful if we were able to be always sensitive to the hurts of each other, but I guess that's another pipe dream, such as Anne's wish that money spent war mongering be spent instead on medical research. Maybe I should go and listen to Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech again, as I'm feeling sadly cynical right now.

Debs x

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Re: LINDA BELLINGHAM CANCER A SEXY ILLNESS.

I never liked asda "tickled pink" either even before my bc dx, my mum had bowel cancer, not sexy or much talked about either. Didn't feel very tickled or pink having my boob chopped off or losing my hair. I understand that Breast Cancer Care and other charities depend on the public funding and PR & marketing have to be appealing and engaging, "sexy" is not a word that springs to mind when thinking of cancer. Still, just my personal view wishing like Anne, hoping for a more just world.

Re: LINDA BELLINGHAM CANCER A SEXY ILLNESS.

I agree with Annes rant

Re: LINDA BELLINGHAM CANCER A SEXY ILLNESS.

I still think that it is offensive.

Ok, the success pink fluffy fundraising could be construed as, in your face 'sexy' in its blatantness.
I understand what she was trying to say but am still not happy.

Watching your 30 yr old mother go blind and die from bc is not sexy. The resultant family breakdown and psychological impact was not sexy.
Being mis diagnosed myself was not sexy. Neither was my double mastectomy, recon and end of my oestrogen deprived sex life. My secondary diagnosis and effect of my daughter is not sexy.In fact it is cruel.

However, I work with people with a whole range of disabilities and diseases and see the devastating effects on their lives.I frequently feel blessed but I still would not wish bc on my worst enemy. I do not think it is sexy and I feel totally disconnected from the pink fluffiness. My interpretation is dark, gloomy lonliness.

Julie x

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Re: LINDA BELLINGHAM CANCER A SEXY ILLNESS.

Quite honestly I don't believe that any disease or illness should depend on the goodwill of people for research. We live in a very rich nation and everyone should get the health care they need via the NHS. Research should be done and funded in our universities and medical institutions by government using our money, rather than spending it on killing people in illegal wars, bailing out the multi millionair bankers, spending billions more on a new generation of nuclear weapons etc etc. Then there would be need for people to dress in pink tutus or scrabble for coppers from the public to carry out much needed research.

Rant over.

Anne x

Re: LINDA BELLINGHAM CANCER A SEXY ILLNESS.

I saw her interview on BBC Breakfast this morning and just knew there would be a thread about it on here.

On TV she actually went on to say that she didn't want to denigrate other terrible illnesses people suffer but that this was her way of expressing her feelings as best she could.

I could entirely see what she meant and think we are lucky that bc fund-raising is so prominent and to the fore, leading to millions being raised for research etc. It's just a shame that not all conditions can be in a similar position. Topsymo - can see exactly what you mean.

Liz

Re: LINDA BELLINGHAM CANCER A SEXY ILLNESS.

I think people have over-reacted to Linda Bellingham's words.

I agree with Debs4 - I have used the adjective 'sexy' myself in the context of trying to raise awareness re others cancers, other illnesses & disabilities - especially overseas charities, that get a fraction of the publicity and funding that is given to BC .

I don't want to get into a competition about whose suffering is worse than whose- but there really are an awful lot of other conditions- and Alzeimer's is certainly one of them, which cause untold distress and suffering.
Just because we've all got BC there's no need for us to be quite so sensitive....... I, for one really don't go for pink and fluffy AT ALL but clearly it makes some people - including many with BC, feel they are doing something helpful- so I'm not going to knock it.

(I guess some of you will think that this is bad taste as well but I would venture to suggest that the charity 'Help for Heroes' is SEXY" .........and that's why it is being so successful in raising awareness re injured servicemen and women.)

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Re: LINDA BELLINGHAM CANCER A SEXY ILLNESS.

Of course, cancer is pink and fluffy! Go for a walk once or twice a year and we'll all be cured! If people can't talk with sense and consideration then they should just not say anything!

Re: LINDA BELLINGHAM CANCER A SEXY ILLNESS.

If the comments have upset people, Lynda Bellingham is an ambassador for the alheimer's society, contact details at http://www.alzheimers.org.uk/site/scripts/contact.php.

If anyone feels the need to contact them, I would suggest care be used in working, and rather than claim offence, point out that using the word sexy in connection with life-threatening conditions is innappropriate, and could be couter productive in terms of raising awareness or contributions.

Paul.

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Re: LINDA BELLINGHAM CANCER A SEXY ILLNESS.

I've even personally used the word "sexy" when speaking of breast cancer as a charity, rather than as a disease. As a disease it is utter crap and in that it is no different to any other disease or illness. However ... and its a very big however ... there is no doubt that BC charities do much better than other specific cancer charities (prostate, throat, bowel etc), or even than most other non-cancer charities - with the possible exception of children and animals. So, from a marketing perspective, breast cancer has proven easy to sell, or to use marketing-speak ... to be sexy.

I agree that when I hear the words sexy and breast cancer together, my first reaction is to find it bizarre and upsetting, but no more so than seeing my girlfriends at a pink party dressing up in silly pink tutus and waggling their boobs for the camera, or women doing sponsored runs wearing a bra ...

Debs x

Re: LINDA BELLINGHAM CANCER A SEXY ILLNESS.

I must say I was disgusted. I think maybe (well hopefully) it was unfortunate phrasing.

I hope someone had said something to her.
Julie

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Re: LINDA BELLINGHAM CANCER A SEXY ILLNESS.

I think her use of vocabulary was in extremely poor taste but her sentiments I agree with.
Having another long term condition to cope with for most of my life I have been amazed and delighted by the wonderful support for BC that I have found. It has been an absolute comfort over the past year and I am so very grateful to this site alone for the support I have received here. With my other conditions,I am virtually alone and just trying to find any professional to help is a constant nightmare with no one available to call on!
With any long term condition the emotional fallout is huge. The contrast between BC support and that for other conditions is immeasurable!!!
All people with long term serious illness should have the care and attention that BC has received from active supporters. The BC model is one that should be emulated. It is, despite its imperfections a truly great model of support from NHS and its charities.

I wish everyone who is going through the never ending trials of BC treatment my heartfelt wishes. I was diagnosed July 2009 and am just now returning to work and a sense of 'normality'.I will never be the same again but I will be ever grateful to the wonderful generosity of the women on this site and to the professional support of the helpline here.

In no way am I undermining the terrible situations that many of us endure in our attempt to fight this attack on our bodies. Maybe it is the strength of women fighting together that has made BC support as wonderful as it is. Our voice is strong and heard and I think maybe that was what Ms Bellingham was describing, especially in contrast to Alzheimers!

Welsh girl

Re: LINDA BELLINGHAM CANCER A SEXY ILLNESS.

I know what she means. The concept is uncomfortable, but cancer (in all its guises) is a disease that is comparatively well supported. The stigma associated with cancer is much less than it once was.

It is much easier to raise funds for cancer than things like alzheimer's because of a much greater awareness. organisayions like the government are more receptive to cancer pressure groups.

The use of sexy is perhaps inappropriate, but that is unfortunately one of the uses of that word - take the references to "sexing up" the dodgy dossier as another example.

Paul.

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Re: LINDA BELLINGHAM CANCER A SEXY ILLNESS.

Hi Linda

That is absolutely disgraceful as you say she obviously doesn't have a clue what she is talking about there is nothing sexy about what we all go through. Utterly shocked by that statement wish we could do something to show our disgust.

Anne

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LINDA BELLINGHAM CANCER A SEXY ILLNESS.

HI DID ANY ONE HEAR THE COMMENTS MADE BY LINDA BELLINGHAM ON RADIO 2 NEWS SAYING CANCER IS A SEXY ILLNESS.

SHE WAS DOING A NEWS PIECE ON ALZHEIMERS AND SAYING IT IS NOT A SEXY ILLNESS LIKE CANCER.

I AM SO ANNOYED AT THIS COMMENT IF SHE WAS TO GO THROUGH WHAT I AND EVERY OTHER CANCER PATIENT GOES THROUGH THERE IS NO WAY SHE WOULD MAKE A COMMENT LIKE THAT.

BEST WISHES SUE.