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How Do You Feel About Breast Cancer Awareness Month – 2015?

As I mentioned in my previous post, it seems as if I’ve seen less pink craziness this year. Or else I’ve merely noticed less of it. Or I’ve tuned it out more. Regardless, another Breast Cancer Awareness Month is almost behind us. Whew! As far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t really matter, because as we all know, the advocacy work continues all year long. But still, I must admit, I’m rather pleased to say goodbye to another BCAM too. I thought it might be fun to find out how readers were feeling about BCAM this year, so I posed the question to my newsletter subscribers.

I’ll share a few responses with you. And btw, thank you to all subscribers who took the time to respond.

My friend, Cancer Curmudgeon, certainly surmised her feelings succinctly by saying this:

Pink is a stagnant institution.

Well, she knows how to get to the point, right?

Mary Ann wrote a research article for her blog and said this:

I abhor it. I cringe as the month draws near. However, when friends and family tell me they purchase pink items because of me, I am courteous and thank them. My neighbor went out of his way to buy me pink lapel pins and I will be gracious and wear them for him. But that is where I draw the line.

It seems Terri, who blogs at DiepCJourney, Reconstructing a Purposeful Life, chooses to wear an adjusted pink ribbon and explains why she does here:

Pink ribbons have taken on an entirely new meaning for me this year and especially the third Wednesday of October, Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day. The loop at the bottom of the familiar pink breast cancer ribbon is a symbol of “closing the loop on breast cancer”, moving beyond the diagnosis and rebuilding the body parts that were lost to breast cancer by having breast reconstruction. I wear that ribbon proudly this year as a spokesperson and advocate educating women about their choices for breast reconstruction.

And Rebecca who blogs at the small c, said this:

I survived cancer, so how come I am not like one of the happy-go-lucky girls all dressed in pink ribbons, celebrating their triumphs? I believe we’re never done with cancer—there’s no cure. After seeing so many people die from this disease, including family members, I just don’t feel like celebrating.

All are unique and honest responses.

As for me, I will close out with a favorite quote from my friend, Gayle Sulik, author of Pink Ribbon Blues. I like Gayle’s quote so much I am including it in my new book. Gayle’s words really sum up for me why I am so uncomfortable with most pink shenanigans during BCAM (and all year long):

Cancer is not a ribbon, a screening test or a leisure activity. It is not a sassy t-shirt, a proclamation of survivorship or a gift worth giving. It is a disease process that ignites what is all too often a cycle of medical surveillance and interventions, of which some succeed and others cause irreparable harm. For too many, it will be the eventual cause of death. They deserve better than this, and so do we.

Well said, Gayle and yes, we do all deserve better in October – and all year long as well.

Now that it’s about over, how do YOU feel about Breast Cancer Awareness Month 2015?

Did you see more, less or about the same amount of pink shenanigans this year?

Do you feel the focus toward metastatic breast cancer (instead of merely awareness) has shifted, or at least started to?

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 Mother Nature is still the best thing about October. And Halloween of course.

 

18 thoughts on “How Do You Feel About Breast Cancer Awareness Month – 2015?

  1. If BCAM was mostly about metastaic breast cancer, encouraging research and new treatment, then i could be into it. Change the focus to mets and I’m there.

    1. Elaine, Your comment is perfect. I’m with you. Totally. One day out of the month devoted to mets awareness is outrageously inadequate. Thank you.

  2. I feel for Rebecca, and identify with her as well. I know I was fortunate to have my invasive cancer treated successfully, and I owe much of that success, and probably my life, to the researchers and activists who keep breast cancer in the limelight.

    But I can’t help thinking we’re supporting the pharmaceutical companies as much as we’re supporting actual cancer patients, and various products and industries seem to use the pink ribbon as a marketing tool in a crass and calculating way. Breast cancer seems to have become big business, and that bothers me.

    I’ve read quite a bit lately that seems to indicate some women are being treated needlessly, and cancers that might never affect them in any way are being hammered with the breast cancer trifecta of surgery, chemo, and radiation.

    At the outset of my own treatment, I had no idea how side effects would affect me. All that mattered was getting the cancer out of my body, and I would have submitted to any medical regiment that promised to do so. I thought cancer was a once-and-done ordeal; I expected that once it was over, I’d pick up my life where I left off. But it’s still not over, and may never be. I think doctors should do more to warn patients of the possible problems associated with chemo in particular, allowing patients to make truly informed decisions.

    I also wish more funds would go toward researching causes and prevention. I’m not sure there really is a “cure” to be found, but I wonder if we couldn’t help future generations avoid this disease altogether.

    Meanwhile, I’m reminded of my cancer by floods of pink every time I go to the mall, get on the internet, or read a catalog. Selfishly, I wish the Pink Brigade would tone it down a bit. I’m more than thrilled if BCAM helps even one woman get the treatment she needs in time to save her life. At the same time, I’m also glad it’s over.

    1. Joanne, Thank you for sharing your insights. I agree more research is needed for prevention and lots more research is needed for all aspects of metastatic disease. We need to figure out why some cancers metastasize, how to stop it, or at least slow it down more when it does happen. We need better and less harsh treatment for patients who are metastatic now. And preventing bc altogether is, of course, the ultimate goal. And I’m glad BCAM is over too.

  3. I was diagnosed this summer with lobular invasive stage 2 …luckily my nodes were clear and I only needed 20 treatments of radiation… I had gone back for a 6 month check up on the other breast for calcifications when they found cancer on the other breast…I feel great that they got all the cancer…someone said cancer is never cured…but my radiation doctor said I was cured when I had the lumpectomy and that the radiation cuts reoccurrence from 30% to I think 5%…so I feel good…I am just worried still of the other breast…but of course I will keep on top…and hopefully my cancer wont come back…sorry for the long reply….as far as Breast Cancer month….I really liked it…it made me feel good! 🙂 I feel so grateful!

    1. Diane, Generally, most people (including me) do not speak about a person’s breast cancer as being cured as it can recur many years later. NED (no evidence of disease) is more often the accepted terminology these days. I’m glad you find BCAM to be positive source of support. Of course, you’re grateful, but remember you can still question anything and everything about BCAM that you want to. I am grateful for a lot of things, too, and I am also plenty outraged by certain things as well. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  4. The end of October is bittersweet for me because I love Halloween/Fall/October, so as much as I loathe all the rah rah Pink crap, I will always be sad to see October go.
    I was a little more tuned in this year so I was more aware of pink crap, but it didn’t seem original or I just did not find it as outrageous as others find it. I’m noticing that patients new to breast cancer are seeing things and reacting, without seeming to know that the crap has been around forever. That is why I think Pink has become an institution. Well, that, and the fact the message of early detection etc has not evolved. BCAM has turned into a holiday to almost rival Halloween (which angers me to no end).
    Ugh, I’ll stop rambling here–write my own post about it all when I come down from my Halloween candy sugar high!

    1. CC, Pink has certainly become an institution, a marketing tool more than anything else perhaps. Sad to think BCAM might be over-taking Halloween. Hadn’t really thought about that. I’m glad you still love Halloween though and it’s nice it’s at the end of the month, so you can keep your eye on that. Until next year… and thank you for sharing.

    2. Thank you, Nancy, for your blog– I stumbled on it today while looking to see what I could find about taking my med every other day. October and Fall have always been my favorite time of year–until this post-dx year. I had very few days that I could ‘block it out’ temporarily, and just live without cancer in any way defining me. I have never been comfortable with the ‘pink’ even prior to my own dx. (The Week magazine has an article “The Unbearable Lightness of Breast Cancer” that sums it up well.) I hate that the promotion of awareness is so commercialized. [Please don’t use awareness of my dx to promote football teams and to sell vacuum cleaners and cars!] I am grateful, however, for the awareness and ability to talk openly about breast cancer, for screening tools and amazing radiologists who specialize in breast imaging and see it before most would ever suspect it. Without these I would still be walking around in undiagnosed oblivion. But, we can’t stop short of openly talking about the reality of it after the diagnosis; of the side effects of surgery, treatments, and long-term medications. Whatever the statistics and percentages about breast cancer, there is one statistic that is not stressed enough: breast cancer affects 100% of your life. I am not thankful for it, I do not believe that it makes me a better person. I do not have any choice but to walk this path in front of me. I do have a choice in how I walk it and who I walk it with. I want to choose to be positive, to be grateful, to be strong, and most days I succeed. Being positive and strong does not lessen the seriousness of my diagnosis. Some days I just choose to ‘fail’ for that one day, or for that one needed cry or scream. Falling apart does not mean I am not strong. I am now 8 months post the mammo that resulted in a bx, that resulted in a dx. I am 7 months post bilateral mastectomies. I am 5 months post starting Arimidex. I have one more reconstruction surgery scheduled for January. I appreciate so much the openness and honesty in the posts on this blog, and am so thankful to have found it. I understand the need to not feel alone, to feel understood, to be with people where you don’t have to say anything, and everyone just knows how it is. But I don’t believe ‘pink’ is the answer. Sites like this are great, with women being honest about the ugly, as well as sharing ideas, support, knowledge, encouragement and resources. Thank you.

      1. Elizabeth, Thank you very much for your kind words. It’s wonderful to have you here, well, not wonderful that you had a cancer diagnosis, but since you did, it’s nice to have you here. And yes, breast cancer affects just about every aspect of your life. Just the other day I was trying to come up with some area not impacted – and I wasn’t able to. Thank you for sharing.

  5. I had to explain to someone yesterday why I don’t find pink and BCAM helpful and today, I just forwarded her this post, as it sums up over an hour of conversation. Totally agree that those of us who have experience breast cancer will have differing needs depending on where we are in the process and what we’re dealing with.

    That said: I loathe pink October.

    Breast cancer is not a gift and cause based marketing has created a social narrative that we have to fight to have the right to our own unique experience.

    1. Kira, Thank you for sharing how you feel about BCAM. I don’t loathe it. I still try to see it as an opportunity to inform, but I must admit, I am starting to wonder how many more ways we can keep saying some of these same things…

  6. Hi Nancy,

    I felt pretty good this month. As you know, I don’t believe in setting off months or days for special causes. These causes are important 365 days a year, 24/7. I don’t know why our culture designates months and days for any causes (well, except for the holidays and Mother’s Day, things like that). Why does metastatic breast cancer only have one day in October. It’s a 365-days-a-year disease. It just doesn’t make sense to me.

    1. Beth, You’re right, the causes extend well beyond one day or one month. Our culture does seem to have an awful lot of designations for this and for that. I guess this is okay, but then again, sometimes I wonder. But one day for mbc cancer during the month supposedly all about breast cancer awareness isn’t even logical. Thank you for sharing.

  7. I’m a former bodybuilder dx w/ non invasive Ductal Carcinoma (breast cancer). I had a lumpectomy, radiation chemo and now adjuvant therapy. It has been 10 months since I finished chemo. I am a psychotherapist and global mental health trainer and treatment provider of stress, anxiety, depression and panic. I live what I love and love what I do. But all that changed a year ago with my dx. I won my first bodybuilding competition in 2013 ans tried to do my next one in 2014 and then I was dx. My whole life changed. I lost a lot more than my best friend my body. I lost my mom, my dad and a lot of my lively hood. The thing I thought I knew best, my own body threw me a curve ball and I have not been able to find an new goal. I need support from a community that understands a fraction of what i’m going through.

    1. Judith, I’m sorry about your diagnosis and I’m sorry you have lost so much. Cancer is a string of losses, but carry on we must. It takes time to regain your footing after a cancer diagnosis, so don’t be too hard on yourself. You are still adjusting and adapting and this takes considerable time and effort. I’m not done yet and I’m five years out. I hope you find this community to be understanding. There are many great ones online. My best to you.

  8. Nancy, I noticed less pink this year. One reason is because I am no longer focusing on it. I did notice more articles focusing on the other side of awareness, such as the stage 4 stories. Also, more patients are speaking up about their reality with cancer — how it’s never over. Like Wendi mentioned, there has been a shift on reactions from patients, but that has to do with the different stages of awareness which I believe we all go through (working on a post about this now). There is also the burden of awareness which most people do not want to deal with but sometimes are forced to. I feel my situation has forced me to be more aware.

    1. Rebecca, I noticed less pink too. Others have mentioned this as well, so this gives me hope that the tide might be changing. We need the focus to be on breast cancer reality, not pinktified, fluffed-up awareness. Thank you for sharing.

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