Why after 30 years of research was the survival rate the same? Why was so little research funding going toward breast cancer? Why did every doctor she talked to have a different answer?
And what is this “nonsense,” she exclaimed that Japan has a low incidence of breast cancer. Too many of her Japanese girlfriends have had breast cancer. The water, air, and food here is not that different in the U.S. “The truth,” she railed “is that doctors in Japan do not require women to get mammograms.” She ticked off all her friends and family who had never gotten an exam. By the time cancer is diagnosed it has spread to other organs and thus not recorded as a death by breast cancer.
“There is nothing special or unique about Japan” she concluded, “just that women matter less.”
I was the maid of honor at her wedding years ago. We both had gone to Smith, a woman’s college, where we learned to speak up. She came to the U.S. after failing to become a JAL stewardess. She was told she was too tall, 5’9”, and that it would be impolite for her to look down on most of the airline’s clients.
I listened and hoped that the dinner and empathy I brought helped a little to one of my oldest friends. There was not much more I could do as my friend at Japan Without the Sugar tells me Japan is unique, it is after all the only country blessed with four seasons.
My mammogram has been scheduled.
Get Involved: Susan G. Komen for the Cure, is the world’s largest source of nonprofit funds for breast cancer research and community outreach programs with $1 billion invested to date. Although Komen has international affiliates, there are none in Asia,