Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Ann's October Hall of Shame, 2014 Version

Here is where I will be putting all the PR letters and requests I get to promote pink items, as well as the charities that they partner with and just anything that I think adds to the pink atrocity that is the month of October.  You can make up your own mind what you think about these letters, events and sales tactics, but I think when you see them stacked in a long line at the end of the month, you will be shocked at the indignity displayed and how much this month is about selling product rather than helping anybody, and how much this infantilizes women.

This page will be continuously updated through the entire month, so please keep returning, even though the title doesn't change.  If you want to be notified when I update it, please follow my facebook page as I will notify everybody there with each update.  If you prefer twitter, follow me @butdocihatepink.

Here weeeeee goooo......


Last Week of October

Before I leave you with this stark evidence of what this month has become, I want to thank everybody who sent me a photo, who wrote a letter, who fought for understanding.  We had some successes - people who listened and learned and now know that the pink messaging is wrong.


But it will take some time for success.  Breast cancer, for us, is all year long.  It is in danger of becoming a month in which everything is decorated pink but has no meaning.  During Christmas, we have to wade through months of advertising to find true meaning, and in October, we endure a month of pink decor to find a glimpse of hope that our disease will be cured.

Let's declare "awareness" over, and start the next phase.  "Research."  Together, there can be a cure for breast cancer, and thus breakthroughs in all cancers.  But not if the money is spent on pink balloons.









10/25/2014

OR ELSE!!!!!


10/22/2014




Paula, I'm glad you have something to tell me.  I have something to tell you.   Here are some women who "checked" themselves.




And, one of me:





Checking yourself does not "protect yourself."  It just finds cancer.

And by the way, you dance like you are on tamoxifen.

10/21/2014

Hello Ann,

My name is XX. I am an intern with Darna & Company. We have a new product in the market called the X band. This band uses peppermint aroma therapy and acupressure to combat nausea and vomiting. We have joined with the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida to help patients going through treatment. For every band purchased in the month of October, a patient at the cancer center will receive one free of charge. Please visit our website, X, and amazon for more information. To receive $1 off use the coupon code: SAVBOOBS. We hope that this band will bring relief to the nausea and vomiting from the trauma of the chemotherapy treatment. Please share our information with others that deal with nausea and vomiting. Thank you for your time.


Sincerely,

Intern

Dear Intern,

While I'm sure your product is helpful, and I support the Moffitt Cancer Center, I take exception to the coupon code, "saveboobs."  Breast cancer is not about saving "boobs," it is about saving lives.  And for that reason alone, I will not consider promoting your item.

You may think a coupon code is meaningless, trivial,  or the wrong thing to worry about.  But this month is full of cutesy discussions about boobs, pink,  and breast-related items.  It minimizes the disease for those of us, like me, who have end-stage cancer and will die from it. The last thing on our minds is saving our tatas.  We want to live to raise our children, to participate in life.  The area in which our cancer arises gets far too much focus, and I will not have anything to do with it. The conversation needs to be changed entirely.

While I believe Moffitt will use money in a better fashion than, say, Komen, I do not participate in the demeaning of women and what is a serious and often terminal illness.  And, I don't believe any cancer center should.  Had the code been "savelives" than I might have shared it with my network.

As an intern (in what?) I hope you will consider this point of view in the future.  It is a large one and growing fast.  Check out Breast Cancer Action, check out Think Before You Pink, check out Pink Ribbon Blues, check out my blog and facebook page and check out the various social media activites all repudiating and rejecting the pink message of boobs, survivorship and ribbons.

Best,


Ann

10/17/2014 - WAZE and Pink Ribbons




Hi, Ann-

I know we are deep into October; however, I thought this could be interesting for you. Waze has mapped all mammography screening center locations in the US to help Wazers navigate there easily (8100 places.)

Drivers will see pink ribbons on the map or can search for "Pink" in the search box.

Personally, I like this initiative because Waze is not pinkwashing - we're actually providing a service that's actionable and free.

For more information please see our official blog post is here: http://blog.waze.com/2014/10/breast-cancer-awareness-month-on-waze.html 


Let me know what you think and if this would be of interest to cover.

So, I suppose the "not pinkwashing" means there is no donation involved? My definition means using breast cancer for your own gain and continuing the spread of misinformation about it.

 I actually use this app and love it, or should I say, loved it.  I happen to be THAT person, the one who can go somewhere every day for ten years and still get lost, so in my mind, GPS is the best invention ever.

But aside from all the issues with this (who drives by and goes, "Oh, maybe I'll stop in for my mammogram?"  does nobody ever think about women who ALREADY have breast cancer during this month?  As a waze user, with metastatic (terminal) breast cancer, do you think I want to see these pink ribbons waving as I drive around? This is a reminder of the disease that will kill me.

I'm not sure I'm the one lost with this bandwagon jumping.  Waze seems to have lots its way.

When are these companies going to learn to speak to those of us with disease and see what we think before they post these things?


Oh right, "Their friend's mother's sister had cancer and so they understand."  Um hm.


If you go to their blog post, you read this:


"Breast Cancer Awareness Month is marked every year in October. While breast cancer is a very common cancer worldwide, the good news is that there are good chances for survival if the cancer is found and treated early. Therefore awareness is crucial.

For this reason, all October long, Waze will be sporting pink ribbons marking local screening centers in the US. You can also simply search the word "Pink" in order to navigate to a facility in your area. We'd like to thank community member OrbitC for his suggestion that sparked the idea for the campaign."

We hope this initiative will help raise awareness, especially regarding the need for early detection."

So I commented on their blog post, rebutting their early detection idea and their flat out lie that survival is possible if it is found early and I sent them the information.

My comment has to be approved and so I assume that it will never be shown.  I've deleted Waze off my phone.  




10/13/2014 - Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day.



We metastatic women have one day of this whole pink month dedicated to us - the only women who will die of breast cancer.

So, what does an awareness organization in the UK do?  They decide to make this "No Bra Day." Presumably, today you are supposed to walk around without a bra (what if you don't have breasts?) and raise awareness.  Yes, awareness, that is what they want to raise.  Their very clever logo is "Set the Tata's free."

They have a facebook page.

So I decided to share my opinion.  I write a nice note about how what metastatic women need at this point in time was not awareness, but money to go to research.  I was polite.  I was sensible.  I was kind.

I was banned.

I then posted on facebook and requested others make the point that cancer is not about taking off bras.  

Each and every women was banned.

They care SO MUCH about breast cancer patients that they are silencing the voices of the women who die from it.

If you take a stand, if you publicly announce it, then you should be able to back it up.  You should be able to have a conversation about it.  But they have disabled all posts to page on their site (which says quite a bit about how many women disagree with them) and if you comment on something they have posted, they ban you.

How charitable.

My suggestion?  Keep that banning finger busy.  Use the link above and politely post how you feel about sexualized campaigns in which the money raised goes towards nothing useful.



10/12/2014

Actress Wears Bra Camera to Focus on Awareness



An attractive woman with large breasts puts on a pink bra and a shirt she unbuttons to the navel, and walks around filming as eyes graze her breasts.  This ad campaign was done by Nestle to focus on awareness.

Awareness of what?  That men like to look at woman's breasts?  Awareness that if you wear a hot pink bra and an unbottoned grey shirt,  pretty much everybody is going to notice?  Awareness that we are visual creatures who look at things that are out of our ordinary daily experience?

No, it's to make you aware of cancer.

Oh, now I get it.

If Nestle has spent the costs involved in filming this video and given it to Stand Up 2 Cancer or Metavivor instead, then they might have done some good.  But no, they just took the easy way out and once again equated cancer with the area in which cancer arises.  Breasts.

Cancer is all about breasts.  Not disease, not sickness, not death.  It's breasts for men to peek at  The worst part of cancer is that we are missing breasts and men can no longer peep.


10/11/2014
Coppa Feel Foundation




So, I've known about this one since October, and each time I read about it, it renders me speechless.  This is a campaign going on in England by the "Coppafeel" foundation.  It shows a variety of breasts on billboards, which supposedly will encourage women to do breast self-exams.

Not only that, they seem to want to have tags sewn into every bra reminding women to check their breasts.

The whole focus of this charity is early detection, which we all know by now does not prevent metastases.  Many experts believe that this whole monthly ritual of self-examination is needless - women typically feel any lumps pretty early on without it (as I did).  Despite the way this organization portrays women, as childish teenagers, we are pretty savvy to our own breasts; they are not something we ignore until cancer starts to grow.  Maybe it's different in England, but here we take showers, we wash ourselves, we feel our bodies, etc.    The name of the group, Coppafeel, is clearly not about women, but is about sexually objectifying them.  Who tries to "cop feels?"  Why, pre-teen males, of course.

So what are they trying to do?

They believe that women who find cancer early are saved, despite evidence to the contrary.  They have ignored all the issues surrounding early detection such as over-diagnosis and treatment, and have come up with cutesy slogans and hashtags with sexualized messages that hurt the dignity of women rather than help highlight that we are dealing with a horrifying and fatal disease.  They have shirts with handprints across the breast, etc. (How cute!)  It is clear that their focus is on awareness rather than women who already have cancer, as so many charities are.  It's almost like once you get the disease, you are of no importance.

Once again, and I've said this hundreds of times, we do not see tags sewn into boxers reminding men to check for testicular or penile cancer.  I suppose that it's because we imagine they are grown-ups and will notice if anything is wrong, without having to be told what to do by their clothing.

This is just another example of a terrible disease that women suffer and die from being treated like a Junior High masturbation game, with the money going towards nothing that will help a single woman.

10/10/2014

JC Penney Ad Goes Tonedeaf on Breast Cancer.



Please click to read the article because I cannot say anything better than that writer did.



10/9/2014



Another cancer center that thinks it's all about bras. There is some spectacular uncreativity going on here. Do they NOT understand that they are leaving out the women who do not have breasts and thus, do not wear bras?  Can they not imaging how uncomfortable that might be for a cancer center to do?

(The cancer center in my town auctions off beautiful quilts.   They do not focus on underwear.)

10/8/2014

Komen Teams Up with Fracking Company to Create Pink Drill Bits.



In a press release that only the Onion could top, a company called Baker-Hughes has decided to distribute over 1000 pink drill bits to do their "bit" to prevent breast cancer.

I'm speechless.

From the company,

"Our hope is from the water cooler to the rig site to the coffee shop to everywhere, someone gets this information to their spouses, their girlfriends, their daughters so we can create awareness and end this disease forever,” said Bill Debo, director of operations for U.S. land drill bits at Baker Hughes.
…Each steel bit — weighing 85 to 260 pounds — is painted by hand at the company’s drill bit manufacturing facility in The Woodlands and then shipped to the drill site in a pink-topped container containing information packets with breast health facts, including breast cancer risk factors and screening tips.
The hope is that the roughneck who cracks open that container learns a little more about the disease that afflicts 200,000 women per year."
Again, I am speechless.  Something finally rendered me unable to speak.
How much did the pink paint cost?  How many man-hours did it take to paint them?  How many "roughnecks" are going to go home and say, "Oh, honey, the drill bit at work was pink, did you know about breast cancer?"
When is Marlboro coming out with cigarettes with pink filters?

I called The Breast Cancer Research Foundation a charity whore, and they are.  But they cannot top what kind of whoring Komen does.  Their legs are spread and they'll take anything for a buck, diseased or not.

Poor Susan Komen, she is rolling in her grave.  I know she hates her sister by now.  SHAME on you Nancy Brinker.  To my own sister, I know you will never be this tasteless but if you ever start a charity in my name, ETHICS FIRST!!!

Unbelievable.  This just may win my prize for the month.
10/7/14

My friend, Elizabeth Dale, wrote a blog post on HuffPo entitled "Why I Hate Breast Cancer Awareness Month."  She used an piece in the Sun as her starting point to elaborate all the problems with Pink October.  She touched on a number of reasons why this month is one we dread, and one of them she listed as "Corporate Self Interest" (which is on great display in my blog below) - and she lists the reasons why it is harmful.

While I highly recommend you read her article, here is a blurb from the part about corporations,

"What about the time and energy to hold thousands of walks, runs, and charitable events, backed by corporations looking to promote themselves? What about resources used to color everything pink? The question consumers should ask is how their money is best used to support research and prevention-not just more awareness."

She sent me this email from the PR firm involved, which highlights in hilarious detail their cluelessness:

"Hi Elisabeth,

I read your piece on the Huffington Post regarding why you hate Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I could not agree with you more regarding The Sun’s distasteful and sexualizing campaign featuring young girls who are so far from the age of women most at risk.

Another issue that I’ve found with Breast Cancer Awareness Month campaigns is that a number of organizations use a larger percentage of money donated for their own administrative costs and payroll opposed to the cause itself. That said, I wanted to introduce you to a client of mine, Hungry Howie’s Pizza (www.hungryhowies.com), a top ten American pizza franchise who has committed to donating to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, an organization who has put 100 percent of the funds the brand has donated directly to early detection programs and education.

Hungry Howie’s Pizza will be continuing its commitment to Breast Cancer Awareness month for the 6th time with the Love, Hope & Pizza campaign. During the month of October, at all Hungry Howie’s Pizza locations, pizza will be served in a pink box embellished with the National Breast Cancer Foundation logo.

Additionally, for every pizza sold and for every story of love, hope and inspiration that is shared via social media; every new Facebook fan; and every photo tagged with #LOVEHOPEPIZZA; Hungry Howie’s Pizza will make a donation to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. Fans of the brand also have the ability to purchase a Love, Hope & Pizza t-shirt online for $15.99, a rubber bracelet for $1 or a reusable shopping bag for $2 with all proceeds going directly to the fight against breast cancer.

Hungry Howie’s Pizza has already raised more than $1,000,000 to the National Breast Cancer Foundation’s Early Detection Program over the last five year—equating to more than 10,000 mammograms and other early detection education.

I look forward to your thoughts, and I thank you for your time and consideration!

Best,
Shelby

Now do you think  Shelby Lopaty from Konnect Public Relations really has a clue as to what Elizabeth's point was regarding early detection and awareness?

BIG SIGH



10/6/14 - Pink Chair




SUITE NY and Carl Hansen & Son are pleased to announce the 2014 BCRF Pink Wishbone Chair. This special edition chair is in stock and available to purchase online exclusively at SUITENY.COM
During the month of October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, 30% of the purchase price of each chair will be donated directly to BCRF.
In addition, throughout the month of October SUITE NY will be donating 15% of the total of any purchase from our QUICKSHIP program to BCRF as well.

All my best,

Suite NY

That chair, by the way, is $600.00.  Grab some pink paint, slap it on a common mid-century chair, add a few extra 0's, find a charity whore like the BCRF, and profit. Cha Ching.

If they wanted to donate money, they could have done it without trying to get publicity, right?  

I gotta say, that chair is as ugly as a mastectomy and looks as uncomfortable.

10/5/14 - Food & Wine Magazine, Twitter Fail




If ordering cocktails would cure breast cancer, why the fug have I done all that chemotherapy and surgery?  Oh, they mean to say, it CAUSES breast cancer?  Well, they are right.

Way to try to jump on the pink publicity bandwagon, food and wine magazine.


10/3/14

Wearable Tattoo Mustaches




No donation offered

What says support like a moustache that says, "I heart boobs?" that is pure profit for a company called Shindigz.   If somebody doesn't wear that to visit me in hospice, I am going to be upset.  FYI:  I have writtten several reviews on this product and the company has not posted them.  Clearly, whatever reviews are on that site are not trustworthy.

Tweet @shindigz  #mycancerisnot4sale #Ineedmorethanaribbon

10/3/2014 From KSLA News12


I can't even...

KSLA is in Texas.  General Manager is James Smith. Phone is 1-318-677-6730.  Email
jamessmith@ksla.com

He says right on his webpage he wants to hear from you.  So let him hear y'all.

UPDATE:  This was sent to him by Carla Jones, cancer survivor. She wanted credit for the photo, so no need to call the GM.  Carla, here is your byline.

By the way, she states she has another dog and will proudly post another picture.  You can never have too many dogs with pink balloons on their chest, is my thought.


10/3/14

Buy a Rack, Save a Rack.


From an alert reader:

A local rib restaurant, the Rib and Chop House in Cheyenne, Wyoming is donating a whopping 1% of their sales of a rack of ribs to Susan G Komen.  That will likely earn Komen at least 20 bucks, huh? Of which 99.99% will be spent on pink balloons, knowing how Komen (mis)uses their money. How very generous.

Testicular Cancer Awareness month is in November, so hopefully, they are planning on serving Rocky Mountain Oysters with the come on to "Eat some balls, save some balls."

307-514-0271, manager is Wade Lancester if you want to educate a cowboy restaurateur.

10/3/14


Top Electronic Cigarette Brands Promote National Breast Cancer Awareness Month



South Florida’s top brand of electronic cigarettes, V2 Cigs, is inviting everyone to show their support for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month with a free V2 Cigs Pink Lanyard. For the entire month of October and while supplies last, a free pink lanyard will be included with orders of $50 or more. Customers are encouraged to stock up on their V2 Cigs favorites and, at the same time, stand up for breast cancer awareness and early detection.

Vapor Couture, sister brand to V2 Cigs, is also promoting National Breast Cancer Awareness Month with a free gift. Vapor Couture is the only electronic cigarette brand on the market which was designed specifically for women. Customers who spend $50 or more during the month of October will receive a free VC Bracelet with a VC Charm. This stylish bracelet with charm comes in an eye-catching pink and is a great way for women to show they stand united in the fight to defeat breast cancer.

“It’s really important to us that we show our support for Breast Cancer Awareness Month,” says V2 Cigs and Vapor Couture Co-Founder, Dan Recio. “We love having an opportunity to give our customers a free gift while promoting a cause we really believe in.”

V2Cigs.com is the #1 ranked electronic cigarette website in the United States and Internationally by Alexa.com, providing quality products and consistent innovation to their customers. V2 Cigs has distinguished itself as a leader in the industry for its ever-expanding product lines, powerful vapor production and great taste. V2 Cigs provides a smokeless alternative to conventional cigarettes at a fraction of the cost. For more information, please visit V2 Cigs website at http://www.v2cigs.com/.

Note:  no money is donated to anything.  They just want to "support" breast cancer patients by encouraging people to draw chemical-laden vapor deep into their lungs, over and over, all day long.  That can't be hurtful or cause cancer at all, can it?  I am so grateful to know that every time I see somebody sucking on a fake cigarette attached to a pink lanyard, I know they will support me as I struggle to stay alive.

But if I ask them not to smoke it around me, what do you think the answer would be? 

Hmmmm?

V2Cigs Customer Service number is 1-877-37-VAPOR (1-877-378-2767).   They are on twitter so sometimes it's best to tweet at these companies - tell them #mycancerisnot4sale and remind them they are likely to be causing a whole new crop of cancer patients, not supporting them in their "battle."

10/2/14

Hi Ann,

How are you? I wanted to reach out to you with a unique media opportunity for your blog. No. 6-ranked light-heavyweight (205-pounds) UFC contender Phil Davis is as well known for his support of Breast Cancer Awareness as he is his skills inside of the Octagon.

With October being Breast Cancer Awareness month, and Phil having a fight at UFC 179 on October 25, I thought it’d be a cool feature for your readers to hear Phil’s story and the way in which he supports the cause. Sporting pink fight shorts and a pink mouth guard year round, Phil uses his platform to spread awareness and show support for his family members that have been affected by the disease.

The 30-year-old has a Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology from Penn State University where he was a Div. I NCAA National Champion wrestler, four-time All-American and two-time Big Ten Champion. As such, he is one of the most accomplished wrestlers in the sport of mixed martial arts.

Here is an article done a few years ago about Phil and his support of Breast Cancer Awareness: http://www.fightmagazine.com/mma-magazine/pretty-in-pink-2286/.

I’d love to make Phil available to you for an interview between now and his fight. Please feel free to give me a call at 702-XXX-XXXX to discuss more in depth.

Thanks,

Paige

cid:3377171360_1463970
PAIGE BERGER | PUBLIC RELATIONS COORDINATOR

So let me get this straight....we are supposed to watch this guy beat the crap out of somebody else, while he wears pink....all to support breast cancer patients?   Do you feel supported, ladies and gentlemen?  Or, could it be that he is wearing pink shorts and a pink mouthguard and sending out a press release about it because he wants to support....himself?  (I see nothing about money being donated, yo)

Boom.


10/1/2014
From the Chicago Tribune by Barbara Brotman

Bra sculpture aims to raise breast cancer awareness




"Pioneer Court, which for a time housed a huge statue of the actress, will be home Wednesday to another oversized sculpture — a bright pink, 16-foot bra.

The bra, a vertically-hanging soft sculpture, is being placed there for the day by Advocate Health Care as part of its Stories of the Girls campaign to encourage women to seek early detection of breast cancer.

"Over 230,000 women are going to be diagnosed with breast cancer this year; nearly 40,000 will die. We just felt the need to raise awareness of early detection," said Kelly Jo Golson, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Advocate Health Care.

"It really required something big to deliver this life-saving message with impact across the city," she said.

At 1,500 pounds, the bra qualifies.

The bra also pays tribute to the physicians, family members and friends who help breast cancer patients through treatment.

"We're calling it our 'support bra,' " Golson said."

Hahaha...support bra....get it?

Subtlety is not the City of Chicago's specialty, it would seem.  Nor is sensitivity.   Why is this connection made, between bras and cancer?  Why on earth would *anybody* think this is something we could possibly find comforting as we face a terminal diagnosis?  Why does the undergarment that covers the area where our cancer arises become so important in awareness activities?  We do not have underpants statues for Anal Cancer, do we?  And, what about prostate?  Maybe boxers for anal and briefs for prostate?

Well, it did made me think.  Every year, I get my doctor a silly tie as a Christmas gift.  It never occurred to me that a bra would just as easily be a good gift of thanks.  What do you think, Dr. B?  Which brand would be show my gratefulness to you as the man who helped me through treatment?  Victoria's Secret or Maidenform?  What's your preference?




9/30/2014




An alert reader sent me photos of this disgusting campaign at the Hard Rock Hotel in Orlando.

It seems their campaign is "in bed for a cause." and they have a woman, lying enticingly in a bed, legs in the air with a come fug me look on her face. Then they have a bed in the lobby made up with pink sheets.

They have a variety of events designed to bring "awareness" to the cause of breast cancer, including a special cocktail - alcohol is a known cause of breast cancer:

They say,

"Hard Rock is also "raising the bar" for the cause with special limited-time beverage offerings, including "Flight for the Cure," a flight of Hard Rock's pink margaritas – Watermelon, Pomegranate and Wildberry – served with pink tortilla chips and house-made salsa. Other featured PINKTOBER drinks include Hard Rock's new Red Berry Press, a sweet fruit cocktail served in a coffee-press style vessel that infuses fruit into the cocktail throughout the drinking process and a fresh, non-alcoholic Wildberry Smoothie."

The entire month is full of undignified "events" that do not acknowledge the pain and suffering that we, who have this disease, go through and die from -  and it perpetuates the myth of early detection as being the most important puzzle piece in cancer survival.

Hamish Dodds is the President and CEO of Hard Rock hotel. Corporate headquarters and phone number is:

HARD ROCK CORPORATE HEADQUARTERS
6100 Old Park Lane
Orlando, FL 32835
Phone: (407) 445-ROCK
Phone Toll Free US & Canada: 1-(888)-519-6683

Write them a letter or call, tell them that you are sick and tired of the sexualization of disease. Cancer should never be about the body part in which it arises, but about what cancer does to those who suffer from it. Women who undergo breast cancer treatment, and those who die from breast cancer, deserve dignity, not "come hither" advertising, with half open bathrobes and spread legs. Tell them it is not a party or celebration with chips and salsa, and that awareness is a myth. Explain that you know this is just a marketing opportunity for their brand and has nothing to do with cancer, and it disgusts you. Tell them until this campaign is handled with dignity you will never visit or eat at a Hard Rock property again.

Can you imagine, going into the bar and ordering this pink cancer drink (that causes cancer in susceptible people) and eating pink cancer chips.  How low can we go??

FYI:  This is what it really looks like when you go to bed with cancer:

Shame on them.

UPDATE!  I received this woman who worked for the Hard Rock and was fired after her cancer diagnoses,

Does Hard Rock’s Pinktober have a face?

Yes. Mine.

My name is Petya Petrova.

In 2010, my husband, Jordan, and I received job offers from the Casino Manager at the soon-to-open Hard Rock Punta Cana Casino. Set on one of the Dominican Republic’s most beautiful beaches, the resort was being energized by Hard Rock , with all the dazzle and glamour that go hand-in-hand with this iconic brand. We were excited to be part of the opening team, with the promise of solid employment and life in paradise. I didn’t realize at the time that I was embarking on what would become a personal nightmare.

There was wonderful camaraderie and an upbeat feeling in the early days. Our co-workers were lovely and we believed that we were all part of something special. Jordan and I loved our jobs. I was a pit boss (or pit manager) and Jordan eventually was promoted to casino shift manager.

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012. My treatment involved surgery (mastectomy), 28 radiation therapies and 6 chemotherapy treatments, all successfully concluded during my medical leave of absence. The thought of living a happy, productive life kept me going throughout this ordeal. I was excited about returning to my job at Hard Rock Punta Cana and driven by the desire to be back to normality. In my heart I felt I had "beaten" cancer, although I continue treatment and evaluation. I proudly wore my Hard Rock Pinktober pin on my blouse every day, as I prepared to go back on the casino floor.

After several months back on the job, I was fired on October 4, 2013. To my surprise and disappointment, this occurred at the start of October, a very special month for all women who, like me, have struggled and survived. The Hard Rock Casino General Manager responsible for my dismissal and the Human Resource Manager offered me a severance payment which was both inaccurate and miscalculated, according to the labor laws of the country. The attitude with which it was presented was one of take it or leave it and i was told I had to sign my acceptance immediately or the deal was off the table. I did not accept their terms.

My husband had also been fired without explanation, prior to my dismissal, and I couldn't help but feel that we had both been discarded by the casino's current manager. We were not offered airfare home to our native Bulgaria and were basically left jobless and stranded. This insensitive and abusive behavior was a terrible shock to me, in the middle of my treatment and recovery. With no means of support, we decided to return home to Sofia, Bulgaria.

I filed a lawsuit in the Dominican labor court against the casino company and Hard Rock and subsequently traveled 36 hours, from Bulgaria, to attend the hearing. Against the advice of my doctors, I insisted on being present at the court out of respect and because I believed in my justifiable claim. I wanted all present to put a face to my name.

To add insult to injury, the Hard Rock casino lawyers claimed in court that the reason for my dismissal was that I did not do my job. This claim was documented in a letter from the casino Human Resource Director. Fortunately, we were able to present testimony from a number of witnesses to refute that claim. Good people, including medical doctors, other employees and clients, stood up for me.

After his deliberations concluded, the judge ruled in my favor, acknowledging the validity of my lawsuit. My correct severance was paid, although we had to resort to coercive legal measures to obtain payment.

My appeal has now been filed for damages. I know this entire process has taken a significant toll on my health, both physically and emotionally. I have medical affidavits to prove this. It is still difficult to believe that a company I trusted and to which I gave my best efforts would fire me without just cause and attempt to destroy any chance I might have of future employment by defaming my professional competence.

My work was an important part of my recovery. For all the pretty posters and t -shirts, pink bathrobes and guitar pins, it seems the company's support of Pink October does not include standing by one of its own employees, in her ongoing efforts to return to a productive life and to deal with this terrible disease and its long-term consequences.

Regardless of the outcome, I believe I am the true face of Hard Rock's "Pinktober". Corporations have a moral responsibility towards their employees and ethical conduct is fundamental to building from within and keeping the brand alive. Behind the guitar logo, there's a whole bunch of people….employees like me.

As a breast cancer survivor, I hope women everywhere will hear my story and wear a pink ribbon for us all. Let's join together to remind corporations that we are real people, not a marketing tool. This is not about a single job, a catchy slogan like "take time to be kind" or an imaginary "vibe". . .It's about women standing proud.

I am Petya Petrova and yes, I am Pink October Strong.

I would like to thank you for the interest of my story and your help sharing it.


3/30/14

This is not a PR letter but a terrible campaign nonetheless:

This is from University Hospital Seidman Cancer Center.  They have an October "get your mammogram" drive that they titled, "Woman Up."

As in, be a woman and do the right thing and get your mammogram.


While I won't argue with their focus as a hospital (despite popular belief, I'm not anti-mammogram, I just believe they are over-inflated in today's society), I do argue with the "Woman Up" logo and the tons of pink on their page and the joyous "we are in this together vibe" which destroys the reality of cancer.  Mostly, as a cancer center, they ought to realize that men get breast cancer too, and in fact, men probably are the ones surprised that they get it.  A "man up, get your mammogram" approach might be more useful.

Find me a woman in this country that doesn't know she is supposed to get a mammogram.

One. I be you can't.  In fact, I'm tempted to stand on a street corner for a day and ask this question.  Hmmm.....

Curious to know what my male friends who get breast cancer think about this logo.  


9/24/2014
Hi Ann,
My name is Kristen and I’m an Inbound Marketing Coordinator at SaleAMP, an internet marketing agency located in Austin, Texas. One of my clients is Johnny Carino’s, an authentic Italian restaurant chain.
We are looking to partner with you to raise money for the National Breast Cancer Foundation and Young Survivor Coalition. We would love if you could simply add a banner to your site throughout the month of October to encourage your readers to check out Johnny Carino's Big Crush Campaign, which helps “crush out cancer” with these amazing organizations and also gets your readers some great freebies and discounts! Johnny Carino’s patrons who donate $2 to the National Breast Cancer Foundation will receive a $5 gift card. Also, glasses of wine will be just $5 every day of the week during the promotion.
Since 1997, the Carino's Foundation has raised and donated more than $2.7 million to charities and organizations that serve local communities. Johnny Carino’s did a similar promotion to this one around Mother’s Day, and thanks to websites like yours raising awareness, it was able to donate over $25,000 to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.
More than 40,000 women die of breast cancer every year. It is bloggers like you who help spread awareness and truly make a difference in finding a cure for this horrible disease. I’m sure we all know someone who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Let’s join together and help out an amazing cause!
I would like to provide you with our Big Crush campaign banner to display on your blog throughout October to encourage your readers to check out Big Crush and see what it’s all about! This is a great opportunity to give back to the National Breast Cancer Foundation and the Young Survivor Coalition while getting some tasty incentives from Johnny Carino’s.
Please let me know if you’re interested in participating in this amazing campaign and I will send the banner over to you to place on your blog. I look forward to hearing from you.

Best,
Kristen
kjones@saleamp.com

512-782-0148

Dear Kristen,

Basically, you want me to advertise a restaurant for free?  Worse, you want me to advertise that people should buy alcohol, a known risk factor in breast cancer?  And you think I'm willing to do it because I have a cancer blog (named I Hate Pink, by the way) and thus I MUST support ANY breast cancer charity no matter what they do?


You have never read my blog, have you?

FYI:  I am one of those 40k women who will die of breast cancer.  And, most of us find these kinds of campaigns incredibly insensitive and it is TIME that you PR firms understand our viewpoint.  You all walk in little straight pink lines without an inch of creativity.

Love,


Ann

ACTION ITEM:  Please contact Johnny Carino's and tell them that selling alcohol to promote breast cancer awareness does the exact opposite, and that drinking alcohol is linked to breast cancer, particularly triple negative.  Please tweet this post out with #mycancerisnot4sale.  And, finally, be aware that the National Breast Cancer Foundation will do just about anything or accept anything for their charity.  If they cared about women with cancer, they would not accept money from the sales of alcohol.  These are the same people who were involved with the scandalous "motorboating" campaign of last year.    The Young Survival Coalition is purely and educational charity and donates nothing to research.  Their focus, like the Keep a Breast foundation, seems to be green initiatives.  And it seems funny that people who are worried about chemicals causing cancer would also be promoting drink specials, eh?

37 comments:

  1. It has begun. The grocery store was full of pink today, Komen pink to be specific.
    Keep up the god work Ann.
    Elizabeth J.

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  2. The only Johnny Carino's I know about in this area was the one in Natomas (Sacramento), but I read several weeks ago that it was closing!

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  3. If you read that letter carefully, it is suggesting that awareness cures cancer. I recoil at the idea of any effort going towards awareness. I too have liver mets and am aware of it. That awareness makes it difficult to function. Whenever I see pink ribbons, I become more aware. I am so aware that cancer is killing me that by all accounts, I should be able to cure cancer with my sheer awesome power of awareness! Keep up the good fight!

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    1. They often do, even hospitals suggest that. It's ridiculous.

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  4. October has become the Ugly Month. Not only are we assaulted and insulted by skeletons and tomb stones and the gruesomeness that is Halloween, all the pink ribboned junk food now hits the stores. Can we just enjoy the pumpkins and goards please? Fall is not the time to put pink ribbons on anything, let alone KFC Buckets For the Cure, Pepsi and Hostess Ho-Hos. I'm hunkering down and doing as little shopping I can until November comes and we get back to normal.

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  5. Thanks again to Ann for helping raise awareness that we do NOT need any more campaigns for Breast Cancer Awareness! Particularly not those linked to known carcinogens!

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  6. I didn't quite understand the Komen-pink hairbrushes and other hair-styling products at the drugstore this morning.

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    1. It is to sell product and make you believe you are helping somebody become aware. All those people who watch you brush your hair and suddenly going to remember to get mammograms.

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  7. Yow! I know women named Kristen are young, but do they have to be completely clueless too?

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  8. Great post exposing these sham artists for what they are. The alcohol solicit blew me away. Alcohol? Really?

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    1. Honestly, the last two Octobers I was too sick to go out in public, so I mostly only saw what people sent me. This year, I'm healthy again (thank you Perjeta and Dr. B.) and I will be out in Pinkland. We'll see if I can hold it together and not go off on some poor store clerk who asks me to donate to some pink cause.

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  9. Before breast cancer so rudely interrupted my life, October was my favorite month. The Houston heat was beginning to abate, my kids were settled into their school routines, and the piles of pumpkins at the grocery stores and garden centers heralded the change of season. But now, I hate October. I really hate it.

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  10. I got my Kroger Pink coupon booklet in the mail. It is all about awareness with a special story from a survivor. This woman explains that she had a mammogram, they told her she had cancer. She had a double masectomy then they told her she didn't need chemo because the type of bc she had has a very low chance of spreading. She thanks the mammogram that caught it early for saving her life. Well no, what saved her life was having the kind of breast cancer that doesn't spread!

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    1. Causation does not imply correlation......good point!

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  11. And I forgot to mention there is some kind of pink drink, not alcoholic, like made from beets you are supposed to drink while supporting the companies in the brochure who donate to Komen

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  12. I called Hard Rock's corporate office and passed through to Claire, the marketing assistant. I explained why I was calling and she put me on hold to find out who I should speak to. She was told to pawn me off to their generic "Customer Care" line. I didn't bother to wait on hold and just hung up.

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    1. Awesome. Just wait, I have a new story about that sent to me by somebody who worked for Hard Rock and got cancer. Just am double-checking to make sure it's okay I post it here....

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  13. Dear Ann
    I really like that you share your opinions, I mean, heck it is your blog! May I offer a point of view to you?
    It's really angering for me to read all of your negative perspectives and interpretations pertaining to campaigns regarding to Breast Cancer awareness...especially in the month of October. Why? Because I see pink everywhere! I see support for this cause and support for this cancer. Do you have any idea how it feels to RARELY see teal? To rarely hear support the cause for Ovarian Cancer and Primary Peritoneal Cancer? You seem like a reasonable person and I think it's admirable the way you are/have handled your journey with breast cancer, but it really cuts deep when I see you piss all over the support your type of cancer gets! If I saw 1/4 of the awareness, support, teal, and causes for OVCA/PPC I'd be overjoyed! I agree that some of these campaigns are ill-thought and tasteless but it is STILL support, awareness, and money for YOUR cancer!

    About me. I am a 35 year old who misses her grandma terribly. In 2005 she was diagnosed 3c PPC. The doctor gave her stats from the 70s.... survival of less than 15%. She braved multiple surgeries, ICU stays, and chemo. She went into remission and stayed in remission for 2 years. Then she did it all over again. And then a third time shortly after that. With her 4th relapse she opted for hospice, in August of 2010. They told her she would never make it to Christmas but I was pregnant with my fourth child and she was determined to hold him. She got to hold him on January 31st, 2011. She was the first person to hold me after I was born and she got to be the first person to hold my son after he was born. Pretty special! She lived relatively comfortably in hospice for 10 months. Then in her 11th month of hospice she had a massive stroke they think that the cancer spread to her brain. She was unable to eat or drink and passed away July 3rd, 2011 at 11:34pm. she was there for my first breath and I was there for her last. I still miss her terribly and I don't think my heart will ever recover from this.
    Think about it-
    Lindsi

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    1. I wish all cancers got "support" - in the form of research dollars and treatments.

      Pink is a color. It is not support. It is a marketing tool used to sell products and diminish breast cancer patients. Our disease is used to make profit. This pink month has nothing to do with the cancer experience, as you know first hand.

      I know many many women with end-stage breast cancer who died exactly like your grandma. The pain the families' feel is not lessened by the sale of a pink garbage can, especially when they know none of the money from the sale goes towards anything cancer-related. Most of these products you see - they don't even donate to BAD charities. It's just to make a profit this month.

      If your grandmother's death became all about the anus, if that was the body part in which cancer grew, would that make you feel better? If you saw underwear flags and jokes about saving the buttholes? Would that make you feel bettter? I'm guessing not. That's exactly what happens when it is breast cancer. It is disrespectful to our experience.

      Every October, these families are reminded of the awful death of their family member, while every store you walk by adorns their windows with pink stuff hoping you'll feel motivated to stop by and buy pink and the money goes NOWHERE useful!

      It bugs breast cancer patients, and, apparently it bothers the family members of people who die of other cancers as well as your post shows. This whole pink month should go away. It hurts everybody who ever had a REAL cancer experience or lost somebody from cancer.

      We are actually on the same side, you just don't know it yet. It should be illegal to sell a pink product without donating to charity, and the charity should ONLY be a research institution and not a self-perpetuating party machine.

      I'm very, very sorry for your loss.

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    2. Lindsi,
      Ann actually has a very good answer for you, but I would like to add a little something from a perspective maybe you can relate to, because I lost my grandmother to breast cancer, only much younger. I was 14. My mother and aunt were breast cancer survivors.

      Seeing all the pink used to make me feel real good, people were doing something about BC. Then I got breast cancer myself. I had heard all the stuff about saving breasts and 98% survival rates (they usually leave out that is 5 years and for stage 1) and if you get your mammograms you will be early stage.

      Well, I did all the right stuff and found out you still can be advanced, still can lose your breasts, and 30% of us will still die from it, same statistic as 25 years ago.

      I found out that many breast cancer charities spend almost nothing on helping women with breast cancer or on research, but huge amounts on awareness. The "think positive" and "you can beat this" and "warrior" messages rub very wrong when your diagnosis is stage 4. They make you feel like dying of cancer is your fault.

      Once you have cancer, at least once you have stage 4 cancer, I think your perspective shifts. If all this pink were going for research, or for caring for women in treatment, I think many of us would feel very differently. Sometimes it feels like our disease is just an excuse to party. And forget "save the ta-tas," I want to see my first grandbaby start kindergarten, see my still single kids marry, see more grandchildren!

      I have a family member and her husband heavily involved in bike marathons to raise money for cancer research. (All cancers.) I do not resent one bit that they enjoy it. Because unlike so much of the pink stuff, it has a purpose, and there is nothing about it to humiliate anyone by reminding them of what cancer has taken, but most of all because the money actually goes to research.

      For the memory of your and my grandmothers, and all the other grandmothers and moms and sisters, we need more research for ALL cancers. Progress has been made. My grandmother was given months. Your grandmother, me, Ann, we get a few precious years. My metastatic diagnosis came 3 days before the birth of my first grandchild.

      Elizabeth J.

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    3. Very well said Elizabeth. I feel like I've said the same thing so many times it sounds robotic, but you said it perfectly and with empathy.

      Lindsi, I wish every Cancer was supported financially. They are all painful. The reason they aren't is because of the color pink, pure and simple. That marketing trick caught on at the exact time and place, like the ALS ice bucket challenge. There is no explaining why things catch on, but this month has gone too far. Just keep reading and see how few of these things even give money to Cancer causes. They just embarrass us and trivialize our experience, they don't support us.

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  14. Hey Ann

    I agree with you on almost every single point here: pink awareness is garbage unless it concretely leads to research and results.

    The point I wanted to make was about e-cigarettes, which aren't the evil products I perceived them to be in your post. I have smoked for 14 years, having started as a naive 15-year-old in high school. In that time, I have tried countless things to quit: cold turkey, tapering off, addiction replacement (i.e. exercise, food, etc.), Champix, gum, patches, not inhaling, cigars - you name it, I've had a go at it.

    Right now, I'm using e-cigarettes to try and quit smoking - again, for the millionth time. And so far, I've had the easiest time with it and the most success. It's close enough to actually smoking that I've been having pretty good success with it, and it bugs me when people air their misconceptions without doing due research. The only chemical e-juice I use when vaping is nicotine, and it's not a carcinogen. It weakens cells so they're less able to fight back against cancer, but they don't directly cause cancer.

    And when compared to the 4,000+ chemicals in real cigarettes, plus the harshness of incomplete combustion going into your lungs, I'd say the e-cigarettes are a safer option any day of the week. It doesn't make their campaign right, but it doesn't make your response to them entirely right, either.

    Quitting smoking is hard enough on its own, and the difficulty is only compounded when others don't see vaping as the lesser of two evils. I'm trying hard here, I really am, to do the right thing for my body.

    Christina

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    1. Christina, congratulations on trying to improve your health. I quit smoking 30 years ago when pregnant with my first child - now it's hard for me to even imagine I smoked. I hope you get there too.

      I will respectfully disagree on the health of vaping. It may be better than smoking cigs, in fact, it may be ten times better. But the jury is still out because it's just too new for long-term studies to be conducted. But it is not looking good:

      https://www.sciencenews.org/article/health-risks-e-cigarettes-emerge

      My personal thoughts: you cannot inhale heated chemicals, whether nicotine or candy flavorings, over and over into your lungs and have it be safe. I think we are going to find this also leads to cancer, but like you, it's just a guess. Nobody knows. I hope I am wrong and this is the answer for smokers everywhere. The good news about it is it seems less harmful to those secondhand

      Unfortunately, vaping is marketed to kids, and will get them hooked on nicotine, and I know that's not good. Your struggles to quit prove the difficulty.

      However, the real point (for me) is this vaping company is stating that by handing out a pink lanyard to their own customers, they are supporting breast cancer patients.

      How, I ask, does that support me? They are not donating anything, they just think wearing pink means support. Personally, I don't care what color anybody wears. :)

      Good luck in your quest to quit and improve your health. I hope you achieve your goals.

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  15. Anne, I love that you added your photo of what going to bed with cancer really looks like. We all know it's true. Keep up the good work. I will too! If we're all vocal enough, perhaps the pink sham will be exposed for what it is, and what it isn't.

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    1. There are so many bloggers and journalists trying to expose this sham. Honestly, I think progress is being made but it is very slow. It will take a generation. We need to teach our children to think critically and not just be sardines swimming in a school.

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  17. thought you would appreciate this from the Onion

    WASHINGTON—Hailing it as a landmark moment in the fight against one of the nation’s leading causes of death, a coalition of top breast cancer researchers announced Monday the development of a highly promising new pink consumer item. “After years of rigorous trials and test marketing, our team can confirm that this breakthrough product is both neon-pink and available for purchase,” said lead researcher Noah Weissman, who added that manufacturing facilities would quickly ramp up production of the revolutionary brightly colored consumer good to "get it in the hands of as many people as possible." “While we have made significant advances in our field over the years with other pink items and apparel, we believe this new commodity has the ability to be purchased by tens or even hundreds of thousands of people across the country. These are the breakthroughs we work so hard to achieve.” Weissman added that nothing is more fulfilling for him and his team than seeing a consumer who has been given another chance at owning something pink.

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    1. Yes, I had posted that on my facebook page. Those people are very clever!

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  18. Love your commentary, Anne. One that I haven't see yet was "Buy a rack, save a rack." I'm dumbfounded.

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  19. Thanks for the info Anne! Always great to hear from you

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  20. Hello Ann,
    NAILED IT!

    As for your question for those of us males who had to deal with breast cancer, the "Woman Up," campaign doesn't totally bother me, but for the fact that it ignores that small group of us who aren't women.

    (I still appreciate the humor shown by the radiology staff when they recommended that I get a "Man-o-gram" that day I was diagnosed.)

    Other than that, though, the "Woman Up" campaign doesn't bother me, too much.

    The rest of the pink "awareness" campaign, however, offends me to the core. Pink drill bits, pink bras, pink sex toys, pink drinks, pink, pink, pink, pink ... please make it stop.

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  21. You invented some of these, right? The pink drill bit? The pink sheets on a bed? No? Aaaargh...

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  22. Response from Coppafeel (Ugh, I'm grossed out just typing that)

    Hi Susan



    Thank you for getting in touch.



    First I must address your claim that we are not a legitimate charity. CoppaFeel! ‎Are a registered charity in England And Wales where we have operated for 5 years. Registered charity no: 1132366



    With regards to the #WhatNormalFeelsLike campaign, the focus is to target young women to get to know how their breasts feel before the signs and symptoms occur, to instill regular checking habits and ultimately increase the likelihood of early detection. For this reason, we have chosen not to include images featuring a mastectomy in this campaign.



    Please be aware that our charity was founded by Kris Hallenga who herself was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. The word she chose for her breast was peachy.



    Kind ‎regards

    Jamie Clews

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  23. I must say as a 29yr old young woman with breast cancer I do agree with you on a lot of these "pink washing" crap during October. However, I must say I don't quite agree with you on coppafeel. The young lady, in her 20s, who founded this organization was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer at 23!! She's responsible for these campaigns because she is simply trying to raise awareness and educate young people. Yes, some of it seems extreme, however most young people don't want some simple brochure on how to examine your breasts. She is simply addressing this issue from a young persons perspective. As I am also in my 20s with mets I can completely relate to her message. You should definitely check out her documentary that aired on BBC, Dying to Live , as then you may be able to understand her viewpoint and what she's going through. I think everyone at different ages has different viewpoints. For those of us in our 20s with mets we would give anything to have gotten older, and have children. However, we got dealt these crappy cards and we are now trying to figure out how to live our lives. Young people with mets are so under served, and Coppafeel is doing their best to educate YOUNG people. I understand that older people and younger people may not have the same viewpoints, but why can't we simply respect each other and try to understand? What were you doing when you were in your 20s? Probably not thinking about your own mortality.

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