BREAST CANCER: New Ads Bring Praise, Concern
A graphic ad campaign aimed at provoking discussion and awareness about breast cancer has drawn mixed reviews in the Bay area, the Contra Costa Times reports. The "Obsessed With Breasts" campaign, launched last week and sponsored by the San Francisco-based Breast Cancer Fund, features posters depicting a model with chest scars from a double mastectomy. The posters have been plastered on bus shelters in Santa Clara and Contra Costa counties. Having undergone a double mastectomy, Andrea Martin, founder and executive director of the fund, posed for the picture that was then superimposed on a model's body. Pointing to a recent national study that found the highest rates of breast cancer -- among both white and black women -- in the Los Angeles and San Francisco area, Martin said, "There are many women with my chest. We've become more willing to show our scars" (Esquibel, 1/26). Information on the ads directs women to the group's Web site, www.breastcancerfund.org . "It was my honor and pleasure to do this. ... It is definitely meant to be attention-getting. Our intention is to expand the dialogue around the whole issue of the consequences of the disease," Martin said.
Definitely Attention Grabbing
As intended, the ads sparked debate. While some applaud the ads for being realistic, other contend that the ads could actually scare women from seeking screening or treatment for breast cancer. Gay Crawford, chair of the Santa Clara chapter of the American Cancer Society, said, "This kind of campaign ... might terrify women and make them avoid seeking early detection or treatment, and that would be a travesty." Joann Schellenbach, media-relations director for the American Cancer Society's national office, echoed the concern, saying, "I certainly wouldn't recommend to my organization to add a campaign like this." Some Bay area officials agree. The ads have not been placed in San Francisco's bus shelters. Outdoor Systems Inc., which holds the city's bus shelter advertising contract, called the campaign "unacceptable" and refused to participate. Others cheer the ads' message. Dr. Lisa Bailey, a breast cancer surgeon and past president of the California chapter of the American Cancer Society, said, "If you can use a tool like this to talk about the benefits of early (cancer) detection, I don't have a problem about that" (Johnson, San Jose Mercury News, 1/26). Contra Costa County Public Health Director Wendel Brunner agreed. Noting that breast cancer rates have jumped 25% in the county over the past 15 years, Brunner said, "I'm sure [the ads are] shocking, but not as shocking as getting a diagnosis of breast cancer" (Contra Costa Times, 1/26).