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Cancer Show Needs Reality Check

October 10, 2002|SAMANTHA BONAR | TIMES STAFF WRITER

When breast cancer hits women under age 40, it hits them hard.

Which is why it is surprising that Lifetime takes such a soft approach to the subject in its documentary, "Fighting for Our Future" (at 7 tonight).

While it is a shock to see such fresh, young faces talking about mastectomies and metastases, the documentary seems to avoid the really gritty side of breast cancer in young women. It instead opts for a theme of hope, while acknowledging the need for more research and treatments tailored to young women.

We need cold, hard facts if we are to muster the indignation the documentary seems to be trying to elicit in its viewers.

We are told about the dearth of screening techniques (mammography isn't very effective for young women) and treatment options (chemotherapy puts 40% of them into premature menopause), and the ominous futures for those who have been diagnosed--usually too late. But it is all talk when the images we see are of young women with the disease marrying, having babies, kickboxing, river-rafting and marching in rallies.

The real picture of a young woman with breast cancer might be closer to that inscribed in my memory, of an acquaintance diagnosed at 34 and dead at 36 after terrible suffering.

Give it to us straight, Lifetime. We can take it.

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