Author's note: I originally posted this last October, in the midst of "My Cancer Year." I was two months post-FEC chemo (which I call "the big chemo" because I continued to do Herceptin for six more months, but it was the FEC that knocked me on my butt). I was also a month our from a modified radical mastectomy with radiation on the horizon. I had some strong feelings about "Pinktober." And it turns out I still feel the same way. So, as October kicks off, I ask you to please "think before you pink." Best, April
Can we talk for a second about this whole "pinking" of October and Breast Cancer "Awareness" Month?
This might upset you, gentle reader, but I have to get something off my chest (pun intended!):
I don't buy it. Literally.
I don't buy that making everything pink has made anything better for breast cancer survivors -- or our mothers, grandmothers, sisters, daughters, and friends who've lost their battles to this horrific disease.
Does awareness really do anything for anyone? Particularly the selling of awareness?
Do pink ribbons literally everywhere save lives?
Has the pinking of the NFL improved breast cancer outcomes?
Here's the truth:
Breast cancer isn't sexy. Sorry, Facebook.
Breast cancer isn't an all girls sleep over party with pillow fights and cute pajamas.
The truth is -- the unsexy truth is: Breast cancer can kill. And some women loose their breasts to save their lives.
I think all that pink has anesthetized the public to what breast cancer is really all about.
Breast cancer is scary, painful, depressing, make-you-so-mad-you-see-red.
Breast cancer is my daughter suddenly crying into my one remaining breast that she loves me and doesn't want me to die. Breast cancer is me gripping my husband's hand in the middle of the night, scared that I might not be here for all our wedding anniversaries. Breast cancer is my grandmother dying in a hospital bed, so high on morphine she didn't recognize us anymore.
Breast cancer is all the women in the Chemo Lounge, juggling their lives with their treatments. Some of them -- too many of them -- will be doing treatments for the rest of their lives.
And what about other cancers? Why is October all about Breast Cancer? Why not raise awareness for the fighting of all cancers, especially children's cancers?
And what about the men diagnosed with breast cancer? I'm sure they love the pink ribbons.
Here is my point: Think before you pink.
- Make a donation directly to a cancer-fighting/cancer-support organization
- Do an act of kindness for a friend who has cancer
- Save yourself: Get a mammogram/get your moles checked/get a colonoscopy (I'm scheduling a mammogram for my right breast right now!)
Here is my pink October:
PS. If you're up for more, check out the SCAR Project.