So, as the festival now known as Breast Cancer Awareness Month begins, I'm wondering:
Who on this big blue planet is still not aware of breast cancer? I'm guessing somewhere deep in the Amazon, a monkey has tied a pink ribbon to a tree in honor of October.
Do we still need an entire month dedicated to "awareness?" And what, exactly, are these awareness programs supposed to do? Aside from, you know, making you "aware."
Are you aware? Well, you are because you are reading my blog. Good for you.
So, let's talk about your neighbor. Does your neighbor know anything about breast cancer?
Anything at all?
I'll bet that guy who doesn't water his lawn has no clue that there are dozens of different types of breast cancer, all with different characteristics, disease processes and treatments.
That lady who leaves the paper on her porch for days? She has no idea that breast cancer comes in stages but the staging isn't a promise. She doesn't know how fickle breast cancer is - that someone with metastatic cancer can live for ten years, but a person with a small, stage one cancer can be be diagnosed with mets a year later and die within four months.
I'll bet that high school kid with the I heart boobies bracelet has no understanding that breast reconstruction ends up looking nothing like a boob job. Or a boob.
Do you think the guy out working on his car realizes that there is no "race for the cure" for those Stage IV ladies, because they aren't going to make it to the finish line?
Does grandma with her little barking dogs know anything about the BRCA gene, oncotypes, ER/PR or the Bloom Richardson scale?
Do you think that the Pink Awareness campaign makes any of this clear?
I don't. I know this is truth because I've lived it. Until I was diagnosed, I didn't know anything more about breast cancer than it was "breast cancer." I thought if it was caught early, you lived, and if it was caught late, you died.
I've come a long way, baby, but it had nothing to do with the month of October. Before my own diagnosis, I was as ignorant as the cute little MILF's who are jogging down your street in their Juicy Couture, ponytails bouncing behind their pink visors. Like them, I thought cancer was cancer and a cure was coming. Of course, you know me, I'd never actually run, but I bought my pink soup, thinking I was doing cancer victims a solid.
I know better now. You can't cure breast cancer because breast cancer isn't one disease.
So, how do we solve the problem of awareness? (That question can only be asked if we agree that people ignorant about the details of breast cancer is problematic - not one I'm willing to concede, but I'll play along.)
Maybe it would help awareness if companies would name products after types of breast cancer.
Think of the possibilities! Keebler could make HER2+ cookies that crumble faster than all the rest. Scotts could make Triple Negative lawn seed that just keeps reproducing everywhere. Maglight could come out with IBC flashlights - they burn bright and hot when turned on. Or, maybe ADT could produce an ILC alarm system, which is undetectable for years. Kleenex could get in on the action by making Mucinous-branded tissue.
Of course, it could get complicated. What if your HER2+ cookie is USDA Grade 3? You'd end up with a bag of unrecognizable, moldy crumbs.
Living in a media and celebrity saturated culture, perhaps we should get celebrities involved in the awareness campaign. In fact, I propose a campaign featuring Lynne Redgrave.....oh....wait.
Seems to me like most companies jump on the breast cancer awareness campaign not to make you aware of breast cancer, but to make you aware that they have products to sell you.
I don't begrudge money going to cancer research, and I don't mind the races and fund-raisers by people wanting to help - but the big October marketing campaign, with pink Dyson vacuums and pink Chi flat-irons, and pink products and ribbons in every store is very hard on many women who are living with and dying of this disease.
A lot of people think breast cancer victims are grateful for pink October. The fact is, many women with breast cancer find Pink October a constant reminder of a painful time in their lives.
I thought you should be aware of that.
My here and now
1 day ago