Take the Fright Out of Breast Cancer, Seriously?

“Take the Fright Out of Breast Cancer™” – Seriously? I Fear You Got It Wrong this Time, BreastCancer.org

I love it when readers email me about articles and/or other stuff they find intriguing, troubling, disgusting, informative, inspiring or whatever the case might be. It’s like having my own team of breast cancer internet sleuths out there. You, my dear readers, are so smart and when you see or smell BS, you aren’t afraid to call it out, write about it yourselves, or as in this case, let me know so I can write about it. Thank you to the reader who let me in on this one (you know who you are).

“Take the Fright Out of Breast Cancer™” is a new education and fundraising campaign undertaken by BreastCancer.org, one of the most highly respected internet sites women (and men) regularly turn to for reliable information when they (or loved ones) are first diagnosed with breast cancer. It was the first site I visited when my mother was diagnosed. I still have copies of stuff I printed off.

But this time, I fear you got it wrong, breastcancer.org.

The mission of this initiative is stated as the following:

We started this education and fundraising campaign to address fear as one of the many barriers that may keep people from getting the best care possible. We know we can never remove all of the fears around breast cancer. We know everyone responds to and lives with fear differently. Our goal is to motivate people to courageously and confidently make informed health and life decisions.

Is this an okay mission?

Maybe. Maybe not.

Here are some of my thoughts on this campaign.

First and foremost, I find the name of it ridiculous.

“Take the Fright Out of Breast Cancer™,” seriously? It’s cancer, for crying out loud. Cancer generates fear. It’s not really possible to take the fright out of breast cancer. Dumb name and perhaps even insensitive as is might suggest a person’s fear isn’t warranted or valid. And let me tell you, at times, I’ve been damn afraid. I’m not sure suggesting we can “take the fright out” is helpful at all.

Also, I couldn’t help but notice this initiative itself is trademarked. It appears breastcancer.org is expecting this to really take off then, does it not?

If you visit the page explaining the initiative, you’ll see it’s broken down into four categories: Share the Facts, Host a fundraising event, Contribute your stories and Support each other.

Let’s break these down, shall we?

1. Share the facts 

This section starts off with a snappy (really snappy) video titled, “Mammograms Take Courage.” And then another video, “Breast Cancer Myths and Facts.” I don’t really have a problem with either video, though the first comes off as ANNOYING. And…mammograms = early detection = things will be fine seems like overly simplistic messaging. Plus, I’m not sure scheduling a mammogram requires courage. I only scheduled mine (the first time) because my doctor (and my mother) told me to. Nothing courageous about it.

Admittedly, there are also good links with important basic info in this section.

2. Host a fundraising event 

Well, this gets interesting. Again, there’s another video, this time offering ideas for what sort of event you might want to consider hosting. Suggestions range from hosting a bake sale, to a music festival, to a Halloween party, to tackling a fashion show, to dressing up your dog and walking around your neighborhood. Yikes. Most sound like way too much hassle! Who has the time or energy? Not me.

Next, there are very specific ideas on how to go about promoting your event because let’s remember, they want it to be successful because that’ll mean more $$$ for breastcancer.org.

3.  Contribute your stories. (no link)

I’m not sure where your stories end up. This wasn’t clear. Or what kind of stories are allowed. Or how long. Or if photos are allowed. I saw no details on this part. And no cute video.

4.  Support each other 

This is a pretty straight forward invitation to you to join the breastcancer.org discussion boards, something I’ve never done. I’m not sure why I haven’t. Lots of women love these discussion boards. Maybe you’re one of them. Or not.

So basically, there’s nothing really wrong with this initiative other than the premise of the concept in the first place. There’s just nothing much right about it either.

Because…

Cancer is scary. You can’t take the fright out of it.

It’s Halloween. Can we just leave this last-day-of-the-month holiday alone and let the kids (and adults) enjoy it without throwing breast cancer into the pot (pun intended)?

It adds to the already over-the-top party, pretty-in-pink, celebratory nature of Pinktober shenanigans that many of us have been railing against for years now.

AND – once again, this campaign leaves out those with metastatic breast cancer. Who in their right mind would suggest it’s possible to take the fear out of that?

In short, “Let’s Take the Fright Out of Breast Cancer™” feels and sounds trite. I don’t have patience for trite-sounding nonsense surrounding breast cancer.

If you want to support breastcancer.org (or any other site), why not just donate directly? 

This campaign might not be horrible.

Then again…

Frankly, we expect more from you, breastcancer.org.

On this one, count me out.

What about you?

Read another perspective on this particular campaign by my friend and fellow blogger, Cancer Curmudgeon, via the Underbelly.

To download a FREE copy of my ebook, “Pink Is Just a Color, Ribbons Are Just Ribbons,” Click Here.

Do we really need to tangle up Halloween with breast cancer? I think not.
Do we really need to tangle up Halloween with breast cancer? I think not.

What do you think about this campaign?

Am I being too critical, sensitive or too something?

Where did you first turn for online information about cancer?

 

24 thoughts on ““Take the Fright Out of Breast Cancer™” – Seriously? I Fear You Got It Wrong this Time, BreastCancer.org

  1. I am shocked, as someone who reads that board for info (and did for a year and a half) not for support anymore as that didn’t work for me,but for good info….this seems totally out of place and frankly, NUTTY.

  2. I certainly agree with you, Nancy. You are right to criticize. The title is ridiculous. Having the good information on their site certainly helped reduce my fear about what was happening to me and helped me know what questions to ask my doctors and I got great support on the discussion boards. I continue to visit them daily as we formed a real community – especially with those in the Starting Chemo in July 2017 group. They do have a place on the site for Member Stories but I haven’t really looked at those. BUT REALLY I totally agree with you about the title and about the wacky fundraising ideas. A direct donation is much easier. Another goo goal might be spreading the word about their site to friends and on social media which is something I do often. For instance, I belong to a facebook group for breast cancer patients and you get some wacky comments on there. I will post referring people to an article on breastcancer.org such as the excellent section on understanding your diagnosis. This information is well researched and doctor reviewed.

    1. Julia, Breastcancer.org is a site I often recommend, too, for the reasons you mentioned. But this particular fundraising campaign is off the mark and detrimental to their credibility IMO. Thank you for chiming in on this.

  3. I totally agree with your perspective, Nancy. There is absolutely NO way to “take the fright” out of breast cancer. Would we say, “take the fright out of your heart attack”? I doubt it.

  4. Agree with everything you said Nancy. But one thing to add: Just even looking at the font they use – all I see is a Halloween fright message. It looks like an add for a Halloween costume store. Please don’t tell me that is somehow involved in any of this. As much as I hate Pinktober – this is just ludicrous. Does anyone else see this?

    1. Dina, That is a great point about the font. The whole deal is definitely getting tangled up with Halloween in a way it shouldn’t be, as far as I’m concerned. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this.

  5. WOW! It was the trademark that got me first. Really? How much did they pay to get that? Why would they think that was a good idea? Why do they want to change Halloween into a celebration with a purpose?? A grass roots initiative? With a trademark? I am getting these words directly from their site. wow……….It was bad enough that there are bags and bags of candy piled everywhere in all the stores we have to go into, now will they all be in pink bags? (wait, that’s Easter) How do you explain that to the kids? What fun and mischief can we have with that?
    Of course, I am supposed to stay away from sugar, you know, because of the whole obesity, breast cancer risk thing…..as I sit in the dark, sneaking a snack size Snickers, yes, in fear and in defiance. You know what? If those darn Snickers were in giant pink bags with ribbons, I am pretty sure that would deter me from buying them. wow….hm…where am I going with this?
    Oh, right, fear……..Got Fear? …………………Plenty…I am actually sitting here in the dark eating a bowl of raisin bran, hoping that I can ward off a future recurrence, while trying to soothe my sweet tooth. My 6 month mammogram is coming up in a couple weeks, oh, I got fear alright! I take the ugly little yellow pill out of fear, even though I know in my soul, the little white one gave me carpal tunnel and this little yellow one seems to be giving me the DQ thumb wrist thing. I would take a little vacation for a week or two, but succumb to the fear that if I don’t take it…..well, you know……but I am going to march right in there and get that darn mammo and it’s gonna hurt. I am still sore 18 months later and I am fearing it more than the first one.
    I thought I was so grown up and fearless when I got my first one 20 months ago……..I marched right in there, cracked as many lame jokes as I could about it being my first time and bared those breasts!
    I was pretty darn proud of myself as I got through it, but the first pink flag of fear came when the nice lady says, if you don’t hear from us in in about a week or so, assume you are good to go, nothing to worry about.
    All tests normal……hmmm…….(Really? You won’t call me if there is good news, only bad?) So began the first fear….. the waiting period…….as every day passed and I didn’t get a phone call, I was getting more relaxed. Day 8, the phone call………more tests are needed. Maybe it’s the fright that gets you through things,
    drives you, maybe we need to remain frightened until we can learn more about why so many woman get this disease. 1 in 8, when I am in a store, ignoring those pink bags, and there are 16 woman I see in the store, I am sad, because the odds are so frightening……………………I am one, who is the other?

      1. Thank you Nancy!
        I just wanted to thank you for providing a safe place for all of us to vent, rant, b@#$h, moan, cry, laugh, and just plain reach out to others who may know how we all feel. A guilt free zone. I found you on the “dark side” while I was seeking answers to my sudden symptoms of numbness and pain in my hands. When your doctors don’t validate your pain, feelings and fears, you realize you need to find real answers, from real woman, with real cancer. Please keep on keeping it real, and thanks to all of you out there who chime in with their thoughts, too! This is my first time adding my 2 cents to any blog, anywhere.
        It felt good!

  6. I’m so glad you are spotlighting this campaign! I think it’s completely off base & is the wrong approach to getting women to have mammograms or other BC screenings. We are adults & shouldn’t taint the fun of Halloween for kids or borrow courage from the wrong places.
    My 1st stab at getting online info when I was diagnosed MBC de novo was the American Breast Cancer Society. Then I branched out to other orgs. as I learned about them.

    1. Carol, Great to hear your perspective. I agree this one’s off base and the wrong approach. Thanks so much for sharing. Hope you’re doing alright.

  7. Ugh. I hadn’t heard of this campaign until I read your post. And, I’ll say it again, ugh. Fear is part of having/having had cancer. I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone not afraid of cancer. Pairing the take-the-fear-out campaign with Halloween is disgusting. This campaign invalidates the fear part of the cancer experience. Wrong, so wrong.

  8. This campaign is just such a mess, and I’m annoyed people signed up to host parties. Ugh!
    Well, as you know, I draw my line in the sand at Halloween. So hard for me to not take this personally. Honestly, I just want to mail them a letter saying: HOW DARE YOU!!!
    Anyway, sigh.
    Thanks for shout out! Hmmm, maybe I should change my name from Cancer Curmudgeon to Defender of Halloween or something….

    1. CC, You were the first one I thought of when I learned of this campaign as I know how you love Halloween. It seems trivializing to me and lord knows, there’s too much of that going on already. Not a fan of this one. At all. I’m surprised there hasn’t been more backlash. Thanks for sharing and happy Halloween! 🙂

  9. With only a quick glance at the website, I agree they missed the mark but I’m not offended. Not really. First, they do acknowledge in the mission statement, “We know we can never remove all the fears…” Speaking for myself, and I’m sure many others, the support of those who went before me cushioned me to a small degree. The support is essential and breastcancer.org was a major source of support for me during treatment. Loved the online support group and the discussion boards. They were a lifeline for me.

    That said, I can see this is a fundraising ploy. Breastcancer.org is a worthy organization in my opinion, but I do think the party/event thing is a little ridiculous. Really, it is. If this is the best they could come up with, they need to hire a different creative/marketing director.

    As for fear, I couldn’t imagine being more frightened after diagnosis and during initial treatment. No amount of support could change that. Between Chemos 1 and 2, the husband went with me to get my first Neupogen shot. As we walked across the grass toward the door, I literally dug my heels into the grass and he had to pull me along. I was so traumatized from it all that I freaked out just going back inside that building. So, agreed, there is no taking the fright out of it, despite all the support in the world.

    1. Eileen, I’m not offended, just disappointed. I expect more from breastcancer.org. I hope we all do. I realize raising money is a necessity, but this campaign feels trivializing and juvenile to me. And yes, the fear…You’ve read my books, so you know how fearful I was! Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this one, Eileen. Appreciate them, as always.

  10. Wow, someone was asleep at the wheel on this one. Take the Fright out of Breast Cancer? I support this site and I wish them luck with their fund raising, but I will never NOT be scared of breast cancer. NOT EVER! I had tons of support, encouragement, and love and yet my most vivid memories are of the fear. Fear of dying, fear of losing my hair, fear of being sick, fear of side effects, fear, fear, fear.

    What I find most insulting (and disappointing) is that they have obviously tried to tie this in to Halloween with the juvenile lettering on their heading. It makes me think of the theme parties we used to have back in high school. Is that what raising funds for cancer has been reduced to? I sure hope not.

    1. Lennox, Asleep at the wheel, no kidding! I wonder if this campaign will be dropped next year. I sure hope so. I agree with your comments completely. Thank you for sharing them.

  11. I’m sorry if I seem like a Polly Anna but my experience with breast cancer and fear was exactly the opposite. Before I was diagnosed with it, I feared it. Now that I have had it, I no longer fear anything. And I feel like my experience with breast cancer HAS made me a better person. I feel like BC has been my teacher. I am a happier, more humble person… more compassionate. My life has more purpose for me now because I want to make every day matter. I have more compassion for myself as well as for others. I am better at taking care of myself and that feels good too. 2017 has been a rough year but I wouldn’t have changed it for anything! My hope would be that others can tap into this part of breast cancer too. Being able to accept the things I cannot change and become more proactive about the things I CAN do something about has been a very freeing experience for me.

  12. I will also say, however, that I agree with you. This breastcancer.org “initiative” oversimplifies the who experience and lays a guild trip for those of us who don’t have energy for doing bake sales or fashion shows. I can’t stand the whole pink ribbon thing. Blech.

  13. Can I add another fundraiser event, for your opinion? Here is a quote from the page:

    “…But most importantly, a Mudmoiselle wants to drag cancer through the mud.
    If that sounds like you, then swap your heels for runners, change your push-up bra for a sports bra, and chuck your pantyhose out the window. Whether you’re a survivor or want to support a fighter, it’s time to join your fellow Mudmoiselles in raising funds for Canada’s most promising cancer research and vital cancer support services. Because when life gets messy, we stick together…”

    Here is the link to the page: http://www.cancer.ca/en/get-involved/events-and-participation/find-an-event-near-you/mudmoiselle-on/?region=on

    Thank you, if others don’t find this offensive, I’ll try to learn from that, if they do, I’ll share the responses with the Canadian Cancer Society. My attempt at expressing what is wrong with this campaign did not go well.

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