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, bones, mesothelium, obviously there's more but Annie's waking up from her nap.