Friday, June 17, 2011

A Father's Day Post- Tissue Warning

This is my grandfather. I took this picture before I turned 10 years old. It still sits on my dresser today.

Today is the 12th anniversary of his death from prostate cancer. 

This is what I saw in the paper today.

Once I picked up the pieces of my broken heart, this is what I wrote

Dear [Name removed for privacy reasons, however it is available on the website listed in the ad]

As the granddaughter of a wonderful man who lost his 4 year battle with prostate cancer on this date in 1999, I was extremely disappointed to find the "There's No Excuse for Dying of Prostate Cancer" ad in the Friday Edition of my local newspaper. I fail to understand why the Motorcycle Ride for Dad- which I had previously thought to be a wonderful organization, a flash of leather and chrome and "Dad power" amid a sea of pink ribbons- would feel the need to trigger guilt and regret in the minds of prostate cancer sufferers and their families on this weekend of all weekends, considering that Father's Day is Sunday, June 19.

No excuse for dying of prostate cancer? That's called victim blaming. Is my grandfather to blame for the fact that he was already in his seventies when his prostate cancer was discovered? Is he to blame for the shame he endured while wearing a catheter and leg bag for four years, the discomfort and infection? Is he to blame for the illness that his palliative radiation brought on as they struggled to get the cancer under control enough to allow him to live his final days free of pain? This very treatment stole the remaining strength the cancer had not eroded and landed him in a hospital bed in uncontrollable agony from bone metastases during his last June, a month that every Dad and Grandfather deserves to look forward to with anticipation of crayoned cards and new ties and socks. Well, my grandfather's last Father's Day card was slipped into his casket by my 5 year old sister, his last socks and tie were purchased for him to wear in his casket... and your ad wants to send the message that this was his fault? Well, there's no excuse for forgetting either. There's no excuse for forgetting that behind every Dad that the Motorcycle Ride is for or has ever been for there stands a family fighting for their hero, or, all too often, grieving the loss of him, and we continue to grieve that loss long after their pain has ended.

I believe I understand the message that you wanted to send with this campaign: That screening and early detection save lives. But words are powerful things, something which I would hope the National Communications Manager for the Motorcycle Ride for Dad would understand. I believe you knew that ad would get read this weekend as thousands of Dads across Canada scoured the paper to rehash Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals, for better or for worse. And maybe it caught the attention of some of them- Maybe some of them will get screened now, or will come out to their local portion of the Ride. But it also caught the attention of at least one grieving granddaughter, adding a pang of guilt as I sift through many years of beautiful memories of the only man in the world I would have ever gotten on a motorcycle for, and a man who would have been very pleased to see the Bruins take the cup.
With a broken heart,


I'll be interested to see what response, if any, I receive, but I really felt like I had to send it.


GB's Mom said...

I know where you're coming from. {{{Hugs}}}

Reighnie said...

Well said! Did they apologize at least?