Friday, October 4, 2013

Surivivng Breast Cancer Awareness Month

I was catching up on Downton Abbey this week, and was surprised that one of the characters had a breast cancer scare. It got me curious and so I did a tad bit of research (google and wikipedia - I'm so ivy-league) on the history of breast cancer and learned more about how long it has been plaguing women and how its status as a taboo topic (maybe they should have called it "mammary cancer"?) led to its danger as women feared to talk about it, investigate their symptoms, and get treatment.

That was actually helpful for my attitude going into this month. Because, the pink. The NFL and their stupid pink towels (Cleveland Browns, you did not look cute last night). The pressure at Kroger that if I don't pick the pink thing, I'm against breast cancer awareness. It boiled over inside me when I saw a commercial for pink 5 hour energy drinks. They're not all offensive, but I find this one about "good deeds" to be so. A company that exists to make money by selling stimulants (whether or not they're harmless is up to you to decide) should not in my opinion imply that it is a "good deed" to buy their product. This is not awareness, and it is not - as far as I can tell - "help." It's marketing.

You certainly know someone, knew someone, or know a friend of a friend who has been affected by breast cancer. By all means, let this month inspire you to reach out and help them or honor them with your help. But, I would encourage you to be creative with your help and not buy everything that's being sold to you in a pink package.

I was recently introduced to Pink Ribbon Girls, a local organization that actively serves and helps young survivors of breast cancer in my area. It does so in specific and concrete ways - including meals, rides, babysitting, house cleaning, etc for women in treatment. It's not vague. Do you have an organization in your area that could use your generosity to help women who need it?

If your area doesn't have something like Pink Ribbon Girls, and you'd like to help Breast Cancer patients, call or stop by a local oncology center. Ask the nurses there if they know of any needs that you could help with. Ask which organization or church they see around a lot helping people, and see if you can partner with them.

And one more thing. Do not, ever, in my presence, say "Save the Ta-tas." This I find repulsive. For goodness' sake, save the women. The ta-tas? Most women I know who have had breast cancer would quickly sacrifice her "ta-tas" for a few more years with her kids, or for the chance to have kids. If we make the fight against cancer about boobs, we are taking this whole thing way beyond "awareness," and into objectification. Sure, it's a sort-of catchy slogan that works on a tshirt (or a million tshirts), but it completely misses the point. Breast cancer awareness shouldn't be about boobs - it should be about lives and health, and women - mothers and daughters and sisters who deserve to live with or without their "ta-tas."

Ok, well thank you for indulging my rant about Breast Cancer Awareness month. Thank you, Susan G Komen, and the NFL and all the others who have made it ok to say "breast cancer" out loud. Now that we are all more aware, let's focus on the women who live with it, their families, the doctors and nurses that take care of them, the researchers who press on, the foundations who fund them, and the volunteers who give up their free time to serve others.

Oh, and I know it's a pain in the butt to comment on this blog, but if I have misrepresented anything here, please try to correct me. Also, I'd love if you use the comments section on this post to link to organizations or groups that interested readers can support.

And, let's not forget the less sexy body parts that are affected by cancer - brains (should be the sexiest!), ovaries, prostates, skin, thyroids, lungs, bonesmesothelium, obviously there's more but Annie's waking up from her nap.



  1. Amen! I'm not a pink stuff fan and I despise "save the ta-tas." My mother and grandmother died of breast cancer. We have enough awareness. We. Are. Aware. Let's do something about it.

    Kathy in Maryland

  2. Well does that mean I have to return the biking jersey I just bought yesterday that happened to be white with a Susan Komen pink ribbon on sale for $20 in order to be friends. I normally hate the color PINK anyway, but I wanted a white jersey to match my new biking shorts. Can we still be friends? Yes I have been manipulated, I mean marketed to say "Save the ta-tas" because it is clever, but I am appreciating and listening VERY closely to learn from you and others. For whatever reason I forget and don't feel connected to any of the cancer research talk stuff even after watching my father die of melanoma. Go figure. I could just be in numb mode I guess. Love love love your humor, honesty and the pithy way you combine the two. Thanks for enlightening and encouraging us to think broader. Much love.

    1. Always friends. I have pink ribbon sneakers. It's unavoidable.

  3. ((((SUSIE))))

    I have always been a pink ribbon campaign kinda girl ....

    that is until my Mom was diagnosed with Stage 3a COLON CANCER this summer!!!

    I now wear BLUE in honor of my MOM and all those who have had COLON CANCER touch their lives!!!


  4. Thanks for taking the time to write and share. That is really open of you to want to hear other peoples perspectives/experiences. I would love to share a pdf of a chapter from a book I read when doing research, the chapter is called Profits of Cancer, Murder by Injection.

    I had breast cancer (age 41 then) 3 years ago, after a double mastectomy, no radiation, no chemo, underewnt reconstructive surgery...about almost a 2 year saga: I say NO to pink, no to supporting Susan this arena my vote is NO CONFIDENCE.

    When I had cancer at age 3 and had radiation treatment to my abdomen (at that time radiation scattered), enough radiation so that 36 years later breast cancer showed up. My radiologist and oncologist told me that due to the radiation treatment I received as a child that all of my breast tissue cells had been genetically modified (changed the cellular/molecular structure..kind of like microwaving your food - don't do it) and would over time turn into cancerous cells.

    Hence, the radiologist said I could not receive any further radiation because my skin would become necrotic (basically die and fall off). So my point here is the radiation a person receives has a cumulative effect over time.

    The cumulative build-up of radiation (i.e., repeated doses) is a huge part of why it’s dangerous. Breast tissue (in men and women), lungs and skin are the most susceptible. A very good reason to bypass the TSA scanners at the airport regardless of what “they” tell you…how harmless it is.

    BTW, it was not a mammogram that showed me I had breast cancer, I found the lump and it was confirmed via an ultrasound. I had my 1st mammogram at age 35 for a baseline. I’ll never have another because I don’t have any breast tissue but if I had a choice I would never have another mammogram again.

    Here are some informative articles.

    I would be happy to forward that pdf document...very insightful....btw, that's not the only source I found.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. This is Nancy Stanley, Wendi Stanley's Aunt-in-law, writing. BTW, each person has to choose what is best for them, what they can live with, etc. It's very personal and trusting God in it all is #1.

  7. Susie, I just have to tell you how much I agree. I support causes I feel strongly about through my direct donations and actions, NOT by buying a pink-topped box of crackers. Corporate "good deeds marketing" makes me frustrated for the many people who buy into it as anything more than a ploy to get more sales. (not that their donations aren't great, but if you do it to show off, it says a lot about your motivation). You go girl! ;) Sarah

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