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Who Are The Infertile?

Posted Mar 30 2010 12:00am
I read this week another sensationalism piece about egg donation. It's clear the author didn't do his homework (is that a surprise?), had he done his homework and actually talked to real patients who undergo treatment through egg donation he might have written an entirely different article.

Articles like the one above used to really make me angry but now my reaction is a roll of the eyes as I mutter "whatever" under my breath as I go on about my day. To be honest, I am not sure which is worse and less productive -- being angry or apathetic. Regardless it's clear the media doesn't have a clear idea who we are, what we endure, or what we want. And so they just write whatever to sell papers, articles, and advertising.

The industry is partly to blame because they really don't know who we are, what we endure, or what as patients we need or want. If you look at RESOLVE the faces on resolve are so serious and somewhat sad. Then there is ASRM -- most of what you see on ASRM's site mostly revolves around menopausal women -- and then add The American Fertility Association into the mix, as well as INCIID , and even PVED , and you now have four other organizations all representing different things.

Now that in itself isn't a bad thing -- I think different organizations portraying different types of patients are clearly showing that infertility doesn't affect just one group of people, we are a huge melting pot after all, and infertility is an equal opportunity disease. What I am meaning is that the message coming from each of these organizations isn't the same -- and I feel strongly that we as a collective need to have a summit of sorts and agree on one core message that we are wanting to say and then say it. A launching pad of sorts I guess.

I had this really great discussion with Dr. Evelina Sterling, PhD about the above article and other sensationalistic articles and books about infertility that have been written over the past two - three years and Dr. Sterling reminded me what the Breast Cancer folks did regarding their message.

The media had covered Breast Cancer for years and the message they portrayed was horrible. It was negative, down trodden, sad, and for the longest time if you uttered the words "breast cancer" the immediate thought was "death sentence". The Breast Cancer folks decided they'd had enough and banded together to present a unified message of who their patients were, what treatment options there were, that breast cancer was not an automatic death sentence, that patients due survive and they survive quite nicely and often come back strong, and sometimes stronger than before. They made an effort to develop relationships with the media to get their message out. And now that message is out and the stuff we now see in the media about Breast Cancer is what? Positive, strong, empowering, educational. It's not sensationalism at all. And why?

Because it's not tolerated, that's why.

And the same should be said and done for those of us struggling with infertility. We need to band together and say "Okay, we are no longer to buy into or ascribe to the ridiculous pieces the media chooses to write because the media is ill informed. We are going to educate the media so they really know what they write about. We are going to form relationships with the media and help them learn about what we go through. And then and only then will we be represented fairly."
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