First the big change, then the big transition

3quotes-Change-is-external--by Carolyn Thomas    @HeartSisters  

I can’t even remember reading the book when I bought it, hot off the press, back in 1991. It was during the busy pre-Kindle heyday of my career in corporate public relations. In those days, I traveled a lot for work, so on any given day I carried a business book or two in my briefcase to read on the plane. (Remember briefcases? Do people still carry briefcases?)

This particular book is called Managing Transitions by William Bridges, the “preeminent authority on change and managing change”. 

While sorting out old books recently to donate to charity, I cracked open this book to the section called How to Deal with Non-Stop Change. Bill Bridges was writing specifically about dealing with change in the workplace, but his message also made a lot of sense to me as a patient who has seen plenty of changes in my life due to a misdiagnosed heart attack  in 2008. The reality is that there is no workplace change – layoff, getting fired, restructuring, corporate merger, you name it – that could possibly compare to the profoundly significant changes that so many of us go through when we are diagnosed with a serious medical condition.   .       . Continue reading “First the big change, then the big transition”

What women with heart disease can learn from “pinkwashing”

by Carolyn Thomas  @HeartSisters

In this month of all months, in Pinktober, in the holy month of All Things Pink out there, author and cancer patient Mary Elizabeth Williams dared to post a brave if not downright shocking perspective in Salon she called The Smug Morality of Breast Cancer Month.

She included this jibe at a pink ribbon campaign that she describes as an increasingly pervasive branding opportunity”:

“Perhaps it’s time to consider what this glut of pink says about our attitudes about the meritocracy of disease, and the ways in which we dispense compassion.

This year lung cancer will kill triple the number of people that breast cancer does. Ovarian, cervical and prostate cancer will kill more individuals than breast cancer. And alcoholism, addiction and depression will this year continue to kill not just via the overt channels of overdose and suicide, but in their brutal toll on overall health.”

And let’s not forget to add to Mary Elizabeth’s deadly list heart disease, the #1 killer of women.  It was only after my own heart attack that I learned heart disease kills more women than ALL forms of cancer combined.  But targeting any disease as a “branding opportunity” is not about being anti-pink.  Instead, as Mary Elizabeth Williams warns us:

“We run the risk of ennobling those with certain sicknesses while stigmatizing others.”

Continue reading “What women with heart disease can learn from “pinkwashing””

Medical ghostwriting scandal: doctors sign their names to drug company marketing lies

I had to go have a little lie-down after I read the The New York Times story this week about the scandalous practice of medical ghostwriting. Here’s how Danish researcher Dr. Peter Gøtzsche describes medical ghostwriting: “Ghostwriting occurs when someone makes substantial contributions to a manuscript without attribution or disclosure. It is considered bad publication practice in the medical sciences, and some argue it is scientific misconduct. At its extreme, medical ghostwriting involves pharmaceutical companies hiring professional writers to produce papers promoting their products –  but hiding those contributions and instead naming academic physicians or scientists as the authors.

Here’s an extreme example of extreme medical ghostwriting. The New York Times has outlined recent court documents revealing that ghostwriters paid by drug giant Wyeth Pharmaceuticals played a major role in producing 26 scientific papers published in medical journals that backed the use of hormone replacement therapy in women. That supposed medical consensus benefited Wyeth directly, as sales of its HRT drugs Premarin and Prempro soared to nearly $2 billion by 2001.

Continue reading “Medical ghostwriting scandal: doctors sign their names to drug company marketing lies”