Reflections on Breast Cancer Awareness Month 2012

Another October has ended. The crescendo of pink has lessened for the time being anyway.

Some people are happy about Pinktober coming to a close and you could almost hear the collective sigh of relief as the end couldn’t come soon enough for them. Some are probably counting the extra dollars their pink displays did or did not bring in this year. Some are probably wishing the pinkness would never end for whatever reason and some probably don’t a give hoot about any of it.

I thought I’d share a few of my post-October 2012 thoughts with you because, well just because.

First of all the month went by really quickly for me, but then October always does. The calendar “moves” at a fast pace in October. Change happens quickly and quietly as the leaves on the trees go from green to golden, to falling like snowflakes, to covering my yard creating a lush carpet of sort, to becoming piles in need of disposal to suddenly just being gone, not to be seen again around here until late next April or even May.

Gray and much bleaker chillier days of November have replaced sunny crisp picturesque days of fall.

Where I live November is when autumn “gets serious.”

One thing I realized was that I did very little shopping this year during October. I must have subconsciously made the decision to stay out of stores, even grocery stores, as much as possible to avoid pink and pink ribbons as much as possible. I didn’t even realize this until I looked into my cupboards the other day and concluded I was out of everything quite literally from soup to nuts. Generally, I don’t allow my cupboards to get quite so bare.

Last week I finally watched the movie Pink Ribbons, Inc. and wrote a review on it. Please check out my review if you missed it and care to, but more importantly, please see this movie if you get an opportunity. It will make you think and hopefully question perceptions about breast cancer and pink ribbons.

Mid-October I had my first live internet radio interview after which I was pretty dissatisfied with the job I did. Oh well, hopefully I learned a thing or two.

A week later I met with an awesome TV reporter named Colleen and a camera man named Roy from Milwaukee who made the four+ hour drive all the way to my house just to ask my opinions about pink ribbons and such (more on this to come). Oddly enough, this second interview seemed “easier” for me than the other I mentioned above. And the very fact that any reporter would be interested in hearing my opinions felt/feels remarkable for many reasons. Also once again, I was amazed by all the well wishes about this that were sent to me via Facebook. Thank you.

I started blogging for the Huffington Post in October and quickly learned some people who comment there aren’t nearly as kind, polite or open-minded as the ones who comment on my little blog. I appreciate comments left here even more now.

A sad and disturbing development was learning two more fellow bloggers who I follow and admire were diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer. Both of these recurrences felt/feel very personal to me, blatant attacks on friends I care about. Every time I hear such news it’s a harsh reminder about the vulnerability those of us who have had a diagnosis live with.

This October it felt like the metastatic breast cancer awareness campaign further inched its way out of the closet as the voices of many more are uniting to get the messages out. I’m very pleased about this, though admittedly, this progress is still slow and long over-due, but it’s progress none-the-less.

In October I took in all three presidential debates and the vice-presidential one as well, watching and wondering through them all what, if anything will change if either is elected. I feel optimistic and hope to keep that feeling after Election Day has come and gone.

And of course, October ended with Hurricane Sandy crashing ashore on the east coast with a vengeance. Sandy dominated the news for days, replacing pre-election headlines with more pressing ones about weather, devastation and loss, perhaps a not so subtle reminder from Mother Nature once again about who is really in charge and what is really important.

If you are living with Sandy’s devastating effects, you don’t need headlines or TV news stories to tell you about them. My thoughts continue to be with all who are literally and figuratively picking up the pieces of their lives.

Through October and now beyond I’ve been reflecting on how my views about pink and all the ribboning have evolved in the two short years since I began blogging and I wonder where this evolution will take me next.

I thought about my mother and Rachel (and others as well). I wondered what they would have had to say about anything this October and I missed not hearing whatever it might have been.

So, as another October full of “breast cancer awareness” ends, there is still much work to be done in adjusting the conversation, but acknowledging the need for such adjustment is an important step, and I believe that step has been taken.

November arrived immediately reminding me how well aware of all things breast cancer I am and always will be from here on out. My next oncology appointment is in fact this week.

All in all, for me October was well, Octoberish. It’s still my favorite month of all.

I don’t intend to ever “give it up.”

Did you sense change during Breast Cancer Awareness Month this year?

Are you relieved Pinktober is over?

Do you have any October highlights (or low lights) to share?

Sometimes the color gray is a welcome sight!

 

 

 

 

12 comments


  • Sheri

    November 4, 2012

    I too, am very happy that Pink October is over. I hate how companies make money from pink merchandise. It irks me even more now that I am a breast cancer survivor.
    I am very please to see that metastatic breast cancer awareness has grown tremendously. I would love to see it become the new focus for all Octobers to come.
    Thank you Nancy for your informative and insightful blog.

    • Nancy

      November 5, 2012

      Sheri, I’m pleased that metastatic bc is getting more attention too. There’s actually a petition circulating now to change the name of breast cancer awareness month to metastatic and breast cancer awareness month. I think it’s a good idea. Thanks for your kind words about my blog too, Sheri.

  • Sherry

    November 4, 2012

    I avoided purchasing pink items during October, my husband says with all the suffering with the side effects, I have a pink hangover!

    • Nancy

      November 5, 2012

      Sherry, Your husband might be on to something there! Thanks for sharing that.

  • Lisa Valentine

    November 5, 2012

    Nancy,
    I am fairly new to this discussion, just in the last couple of years or so. But I believe headway is being made. I know some of the conversations I have had with people in my life would indicate that. It took time for the pink flood to build. It will take time for it (and all that goes with it) to recede. Some of the comments on Huffington Post also mean the discussion is growing. The more who comment, whether in agreement or not, the more who are giving all of us food for thought. Those who disagree just help me see what barriers we need to break down so change can occur. Thanks!

    • Nancy

      November 6, 2012

      Lisa, Thanks for sharing your perspectives, which are always so well thought out and full of wisdom. And I believe headway is being made too. I really do.

  • Wendi

    November 6, 2012

    Nancy, I found the comments on Huffpost, to your article and others, to be very divisive and some were just mean. I dipped my toes into a few conversations. What I noticed was this sense of breast cancer patients should just shut up because we get the benefits of attention and funding. When I expressed negative emotion, counseling was advised (not needed, thank you, I accept my negative feelings and hope to put them to use, I refuse to not express myself just to make others comfortable). I think the thoughts I see on this blog and others like it need to be taken to places a larger audience, not just breast cancer patients, but what can be done when we (those with similar opinions) are shouted down? There is a real lack of listening or even trying to understand any view not one’s own in the US these days.

    • Nancy

      November 6, 2012

      Wendi, Thank you so much for reading some of those HP comments. You are a dear! I have to agree that some of them were just plain mean and many minds are shall we say closed. As Lisa said in her comment, this better shows where the barriers are and what we need to keep talking about. Your final statement sadly, seems too true. Thanks so much for reading and sharing your thoughts.

  • Teresa Masters

    November 7, 2012

    As a one year breast cancer individual, (I do not enjoy the word survivor) I am angry that the fact that I had dense breast tissue and that my dutifully followed mammogram program was of lesser value to me, was withheld. Perhaps it could have been discovered in-situ maybe some four years earlier, and the magic number of five years post cancer would be at hand.
    My personal feeling of betrayal and the “system” not caring is powerful. The only system that identified my cancer has no CPT code and is unavailable to me via insurance, even though I know where it is. Can we ever get beyond the Lobbies protecting machine makers, to have more effective screening methods made available? SonoCine which found my cancer, is far less expensive than Mammograms or MRI. They can spray paint the machine Hot Pink, if that will help it get a CPT code. IM HO.

    • Nancy

      November 7, 2012

      Teresa, I’m sorry about your diagnosis. I understand your reluctance to take on the survivor label and how you might feel betrayed. I’m not familiar with the SonoCine you mentioned, so I can’t really comment about it specifically. You do certainly raise some valid points. I completely agree that better screening tools are needed and it’s sort of mind boggling why it seems to be so hard to come up with them. Thank you for your comments.

  • Beth L. Gainer

    November 15, 2012

    Nancy,

    I’ve started putting a defense mechanism into gear: to try to ignore the pink. I’ve gone through several emotions when thinking about pink, but like you, I’m just not willing to give up on October. I just can’t sit with constant anger — it takes a toll on me emotionally. And in the meantime, there’s October to enjoy!

    • Nancy

      November 16, 2012

      Beth, I agree! It is kind of nice to once again have October in the rear view mirror though…

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