Friday, September 18, 2009

Mindless Somer

Just in time to spit acid at Susanne Somers, I'm back having finished rough-edits of the two commercials I'm currently working on.

The commercials really aren't relevant – but I mentioned them in my last post as my excuse for being absent this past week.

Susanne Somers... As with so much that falls into the glare of rational thinking there isn't much about Susanne Somers' beliefs in Alternative Medicine that hasn't been picked apart in detail – in many cases long before she took up the fight. In short, she puts the 'Y' in 'idyot.'

So, what's new about Suzanne Somers? On top of her ignorance, she is a crass, inappropriate detritivore. Attending the Toronto Film Festival, and clearly pushing her new book about (I suspect that it's a loose definition of 'about') cancer, she shoe-horned a demonstrably self-aware effort to be controversial – and thus garner attention for her book – into a conversation, while preying upon the death of Patrick Swayze by cancer.

As if it's not enough to be blatantly wrong, she uses someone else's fresh tragedy to uncouthly open the doors for her own self-serving agenda.

What does she know? She's "a singer-dancer-comedienne" she apparently doesn't even know how to use Google. She declares that chemotherapy killed Swayze, not cancer. "They basically put poison in him." No, they put chemicals into him. But as we know, the alt-med crowd hears 'poison' when the word 'chemical' comes up.

She doesn't understand (or worse, doesn't care) that her anecdotal assertion that she cured her breast cancer herself by making bold nutritional choices is not the equivalent of evidence at all as it's indistinguishable from spontaneous remission... OR maybe – just maybe it had something to do with the lumpectomy and regimen of radiation therapy she had!

Yes, chemotherapy is widely known to be pretty damned unpleasant for the recipient, but that in and of itself doesn't make it an ineffective treatment. It doesn't always work – if it did we wouldn't be having this conversation at all. But it has a better statistical success rate than sticking needles in your "va-jay-jay." Even though it's not precisely germane, I also want to point out that it's really not as simple as calling out all chemo-therapy – there are many different types. That complication seems to be regularly ignored by those intent to vilify the whole range of treatments – each really needs to be addressed with its specific issues, but no it's so much easier to just attack the whole group. I suspect that Somers doesn't have the jam to even begin to head down that path. If she did she'd soon have to face far too many incontrovertible facts if she did any real research. One of the things she'd quickly find is that no matter how badly chemo treats your body, it's treating the cancer cells worse. Also no matter how bad the side-effects are they are better than what the cancer will do to you if it's given the chance. To be clear, spontaneous remission notwithstanding, cancer will kill you.

Pancreatic cancer really really really will kill you. It's amongst the worst cancers you can get. The overall five year relative survival rate for pancreatic cancer is 5.5%. By comparison the same measurement for breast cancer is 89.1%. I'm going to repeat a few key words in those stats: "Relative survival rate" – which is the rate you get when you compare the people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer to a similar set of people who DO NOT HAVE CANCER – in other words, the prognosis is even worse than it looks. Patrick Swayze was almost certainly going to die from pancreatic cancer, with or without chemotherapy. Chemotherapy may have even extended his life to the roughly two years he had from the time he was diagnosed. Comparing his chances of survival to Somers' is ridiculous – she had a fighting chance.

But she's hardly innocent of making outrageous comparisons in service of her own ego. When her auto-biographical one-woman Broadway show The Blonde in the Thunderbird was cancelled after a measly one week, she blamed the critics: "These men are curmudgeons, and maybe I went too close to the bone for them. I was lying there naked, and they decided to kick me and step on me, just like these visions you see in Iraq." Whaaa! Whaaa! Whaaa!

EDIT: Just adding a link to a similar post by ORAC who adds more detail to the medical condition of Swayze. You can see from this quote alone that his tone is not unlike mine: "No, Suzanne, what you said is not 'controversial'; it's idiotic, ignorant, and disrespectful."

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