How To Kick Your Thyroid’s Ass: Finding Our Place Amidst The Pink
This is not a popular opinion, but I’m a little resentful towards Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I see it all over the news, on sidebar advertisements on the internet, and in the corners of little avatar icons on certain websites. Every time I go to the grocery store I am reminded, and even in the most absurd and remote places with which you’d never actually equate disease and awareness: a shoe store, a candy aisle, a home goods shoppe. Nothing says create awareness and cure this disease like a pink-handled can opener. And maybe that’s all secondary to my point anyway, because if that can opener is bringing about dialogue and real change for the cause, then, great. Of all the women (and men) who die each year of breast cancer and with a media saturated with pink this and pink that and ribbons in remembrance and symbolism, a pink October is good only if it encourages people to actually give a damn, get proactive, and realize how precious and fragile their health really is.
But here’s where the resentment part comes in here: the truth — the dirty-little-secret-of-a-story that isn’t being illuminated on the news this month is that autoimmune disease affects five times more people than cancer. Fifty million Americans are living with at least one autoimmune disease, versus the 11 million with cancer. Five times more lives are affected by autoimmune disease. Five times and we have no one (united) autoimmune ribbon; we have no can openers, no tennis shoes, no tote bags and aprons, pens, sunglasses or cameras. No water bottles, bracelets, step stools (yes, step stools), tweezers (yes, tweezers), blankets, scissors, blow dryers, sleeping bags, or socks. , We have no nationally-recognized walks and runs and bake sales for our cause. Five times and we have nearly no media coverage and attention. Five times and — fuck it — we don’t even have our own doctors. There are no autoimmune doctors. PCPs, specialists, internists, integrative doctors, endocrinologists, ENTs, rheumatologists, even infectious disease doctors (how demoralizing is that??) know nothing about my disease.
What’s more, 90% of the general public don’t even know the name of one single autoimmune disease; they can’t conjure up the name of even one condition. Crohn’s, Lupus, Celiac, Type 1 diabetes, Psoriasis, Juvenile Arthritis:, 90% of people can’t name those?, What does this tell us about autoimmune disease coverage in the media?, Or better yet, what does this tell us about the numbers of people who are silently enduring an undiagnosed autoimmune disease all because they haven’t been made aware that their symptoms are real and there is a name for them?
The scary reality is that, just like cancer, people are dying at the hands of these diseases. Autoimmunity is the eighth leading cause of death among women in the United States (the diseases affect women 75% more of the time than they do men). This amounts to a staggering $120 billion burden on the nation’s health care system, versus cancer’s $70 billion dollars. And still we have no ribbons. And still we have no doctors.
So this week, how to kick your thyroid’s ass involves nothing more than these few short thoughts in honor of this month, all in an effort to get us thinking, questioning, and speaking. , This week, the path toward greater wellness is really rather clear: autoimmune disease needs a whole hell of alot of voice; from you. Even if your thyroid disease isn’t autoimmune, remember that you still (sadly) have a chance of developing it in your lifetime, so, for that reason, this is important for all of us. Autoimmunity is eclipsed by other (highly-marketable) diseases, even though autoimmune disease affects more people and does cause death. Let’s face it: boobs — even if they are sick — are marketable.
If we want more chances at being well, we need to keep speaking up. Maybe one day all this fight and voice (thyrants, Dear Thyroid letters, comments, blogs, books, conversations with friends and family, etc.) will secure us something — such as doctors who specialize only in our specific diseases and don’t follow a five-bullet list of generic symptoms; or, proper mainstream treatment options that are effective and don’t cause a whole host of other problems (cancer included); or, the big one for me — an elimination of endocrine disruptors and immune aggravators (and carcinogens) in our food and water supply and environment. And if nothing else, maybe one day, autoimmune diseases will end up with their very own ribbon or step stool or can opener.
Until Next Week,
Also, please do yourself a favor and read this: “The Autoimmune Epidemic: Bodies Gone Haywire In A World Out Of Balance”
Have a question, comment, story, love letter, or rant/rave to send me?: Liz@DearThyroid.com
Tags: autoimmune education, How To Kick Your Thyroid's Ass, lack of education, Liz Schau thyroid nutrition writer, thyroid autoimmune disease awareness, thyroid cancer awareness, thyroid disease awareness, thyroid education