Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Pink Ribbons and Jean’s Opinion

Last year at the Ohio State spring football game, I was surprised to see the players were wearing not OSU’s traditional scarlet and grey, but pink and grey in honor of Stephanie Spielman. For the benefit of anyone not from Columbus, Ohio, Stephanie was an extraordinary lady whose husband Chris was an All-American linebacker at OSU who lasted more than a decade in the NFL. I wouldn’t say that it’s illegal to speak ill of the Speilmans in Ohio, but it’s simply not done.

Back in 1998, Stephanie was diagnosed with breast cancer and got treatment at the James Institute on campus at Ohio State, one of the nation’s finest cancer institutions. I remember meeting Stephanie and Chris once. Stephanie had lost her hair from chemotherapy, and Chris had shaved his head for moral support. Both spent a whole lot of time raising money for breast cancer research. Sadly, early last year, Stephanie’s breast cancer recurred and, despite the best possible treatment, she died early last spring. She left a husband and four teenage children. Stephanie Speilman certainly has left a fine legacy. There’s no one in central Ohio who’s ever raised money for breast cancer who doesn’t know who she is.

There’s a great deal of publicity about breast cancer treatment, with pink ribbons everywhere. A controversy surrounding the publicity is the slogan “Save the Tatas,” a marketing campaign directed towards the raunchier side of men. It occurred to me when I first saw this motto that some guys just *have* to do the right thing for the wrong reason. I once read a column wherein the writer claims the motto demeans both the women who suffer from breast cancer and the men who care for them.

After giving the matter some thought, I called my friend Jean from law school and asked for her opinion. She is certainly entitled to have one, since ten years ago she was afflicted with breast cancer herself. She told me she thought “Save the Tatas” was just plain funny. So I’ll differ to Jean on that question.

To all of my women friends, I sincerely hope Jean is the only one I will ever have who is ever *that* qualified to express an opinion on breast cancer.

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