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Another Breast Cancer Awareness Month & Why Silence Is Not An Option

Here we go again. Another October. Another Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Another 31 days to muddle through all the pink and pink ribbon shenanigans.

Are you up for it?

If not, it’s completely understandable. I get it. Believe me, I get it. I understand the weariness, the frustration and even the anger.

I mean, how many ways and how many times can we keep saying some of this stuff, right?

As many ways and as many times as it takes. (Reminds of my teaching days).

Silence is not an option. Not for me anyway.

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Why not?

Because you never know who or when someone might be reading, listening or watching. You never know when you might be a beacon for that person wanting desperately to escape Pink Ribbon Fantasy Land. (I remember being there and trying to find my way out). You never know when someone might need to hear something you say or read something you write. You never know what small or not so small impact you might have on any given day during October or any other month, for that matter.

You just never know.

So we must keep at it, or at least I must.


I will keep trying to answer when someone asks, what’s wrong with pink and pink ribbons anyway? I will keep explaining why trivializing and normalizing breast cancer is so upsetting and why it’s not an effective way to educate people about this wretched disease. I will keep suggesting we cannot shop our way out of breast cancer and asking, why is breast cancer the shopping disease anyway? I will keep pushing for those with platforms much larger than mine to provide accurate and complete information about the entire spectrum of this disease. I will keep promoting research, not merely awareness.

I will keep refusing to sugarcoat the havoc this disease brings to families like mine. And yours. Or anyone’s.

When someone asks me, why can’t you lighten up about the use of sassy slogans and trite-sounding awareness campaigns (you know the ones), I will answer:

Because nothing about breast cancer is amusing.

Most importantly and above all else, I will keep circling back to include and advocate for those I know and those I do not who are struggling with metastatic disease.

That’s the whole point of all this, is it not?

Or it should be.

I will not forget my mother and all the other dear ones. So many dear ones. Too many. Just too many.

No, silence is not an option. Not for me. 

If you’d like to help me not be silent, please share this post. Thank you!


How are you feeling about Pinktober this year?

Do you plan to get louder this month or go into hiding ’til November?

Has how you feel about Pinktober evolved over time?

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 Another #BreastCancerAwareness Month & Why Silence Is Not an Option #breastcancer #pinkisnotacure

22 thoughts to “Another Breast Cancer Awareness Month & Why Silence Is Not An Option”

  1. Brava! I agree. Reminds me of one of the benefits of being isolate here in ruraltown USA, working at home and not hearing from folks about cancer (it never happened!) … is that I don’t have to deal with the trivializing pink crap!
    Love your writing Nancy ! Sorry my comments are kind of a bummer but I’m just past treatment and trying to push past the year and half of doing this stuff and all the emotions that go with it.

    1. Ellie, I think that benefit you mention sounds pretty good about now. Thank you for saying you love my writing. You’re very kind and btw, your comments aren’t a bummer at all. I know exactly what you mean; many of us do. Thank you for sharing.

  2. I was annoyed by pinktober and found it almost repulsive until 3 women friends with breast cancer seemed to like the pink ribbons, races, etc., After that, I thought I must not like pinktober because I don’t have personal experience with breast cancer. Fast forward 2 years and I was diagnosed with triple positive and went through chemo during October and HATED it. The most offensive to me is probably the phrases to which you allude. I expressed my opinion on my private caring bridge site and try to inform people in my sphere that I am so far NED and lucky, but many other women will die from metastatic breast cancer. In my own small way, I am trying to inform people on instagram who are participating in an art challenge called “inktober”. I use the phrase “#inktober NOT #pinktober”. While I don’t have a large following, it has generated some opportunities to open some eyes.

    1. Triple Positive, Sometimes I still feel like a misfit because there are so many women out there who do like all the pink ribbon hoopla, races and so on. We all deal differently, of course. It must have been horrible going through chemo during October. I understand completely why you hated that in more ways than one. Good for you for trying to inform people about breast cancer reality on your caring bridge site, Instagram and wherever else you have a presence/platform to educate. Every voice matters. Thank you for using yours and thank you for sharing here.

    2. #inktober! That’s really neat!
      So sorry you had to suffer chemo through the “pink-month”,…what a drain on you.

    1. CC, You’re welcome, but you didn’t need much of a push as once again you headed up the successful #breastcancerrealitycheck campaign. So thank YOU!

      1. It’s no secret to anyone that knows me how much I loathe October. It reminds me of my mother’s struggle and death from MBC and I was diagnosed with breast cancer in Oct of 2016. I tend to hibernate this month. A sister in law of mine wrote on FB yesterday, “Donna, it’s October. Let’s celebrate BCAM together!” Some people evidently don’t know me at all! I didn’t respond and I uninstalled FB for the month. I will continue to help with cancer research by giving to St Jude’s because the thought of a child going through cancer makes me I’ll and giving to them got me through the bad times when I was sick, and I will continue being there for any woman or man going through BC or MBC if it only means holding their hand and whispering words of hope and encouragement. Nuff said.

        1. Donna, I am sorry you and I have that in common regarding our mothers. It must’ve been rough getting diagnosed in October. I have two doctor appointments this month and that is bad enough. And yeah, that celebrating BCAM notion, where did that come from anyway? I don’t get that concept even. What exactly are we celebrating? Might have to write a post with that title. Thank you for reading and commenting. Enjoy the good parts of October. That’s what I intend to do.

  3. Hi Nancy! I’ve been quiet, for now, but I feel so disappointed, mostly about those “closer” to me. The expectations are there and they will always be — why not? We all have the right to expect better. I am just frustrated and tired. It feel like I am talking to a wall sometimes. And to think of it, all this work will mostly benefit those who haven’t been diagnosed. The damage is already done for those diagnosed. YUP. The thought of walking away has crossed my mind just like most people. But that can only last so long. I can’t look the other way. We’ve lost too many to this awful disease, including people I loved.

    Thank you for always speaking up, my friend! xoxo

    1. Rebecca, I totally understand about the fatigue, frustration, sadness, disappointment and so on. Sometimes we do need to go quiet for a bit. Going quiet doesn’t mean looking the other way. It means going into self-preservation mode. Looking the other way isn’t an option. That probably would’ve been a better way for me to put it. Thank you for sharing your feelings and for speaking up when you feel up to it. xo

  4. I understand and agree with your frustration and message! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been standing in line at the grocery store, etc…, and seeing one of “those” T-shirts, I thought, “gee, when are we going to see cutesy shirts with “Fight Like a Boy!” emblazoned above a picture of the area where the prostate is located! (Not that anyone would WANT to see that–eeeeww!).

    I also wonder how many of these shirt-wearers, purse-carriers, jacket-toters, and bumper-sticker-attachers have been through what we have. I’m sure many of them have, but I can’t understand why they seem to want to talk it up everywhere they go. Frankly my main focus when I got through the initial phase was trying to get my life back to as close to normal as possible. For me, that didn’t include advertising.

    Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a problem with people wearing whatever they want, pink or otherwise. It does feel a little like they are trivializing the struggle though, and I wonder where all that money goes,…?

  5. Hi Nancy,

    No, silence is never an option. Thank you for all your advocacy over the years. I’ve been having an awful October, and I’ve wanted to speak out, but it’s been too difficult. I’m still grieving the loss of my aunt and am not feeling emotionally well enough to do anything but take care of myself and Arielle. My PTSD has flared up, thanks to October Pinky crap, and trust me, it’s not pretty. Sixteen years after diagnosis and almost 11 years after a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy, and I’m still not doing well. I blame Pinktober for my PTSD flareup; I can’t go into a freaking store without being reminded of the hell I’ve suffered physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I want to write a post this month, if I can only gather the strength. Luckily, I’m seeing a new shrink (fired my previous one — now THAT’s a blog post too). Anyway, rambling….

    1. Oh {{Beth}}! I thought I was “being silly”. I too have felt as though I was completely traumatized! I used to tell myself I was being ridicules, millions of women have been through this! But I felt assaulted, especially by my surgeon, who lied about almost everything she was going to do.

      I hope and pray you feel better soon! Just being able to share here on Nancy’s blog has helped me somewhat already…I don’t feel so alone anymore.

      1. Hi Kelly,

        I’m so sorry that your surgeon lied to you. That’s such a breach of trust. Being ill is hard enough, only made more difficult by a crappy doctor.

        Thank you for your well-wishes. This October has set me through a major spiral downward. You are not being silly for feeling the way you do. We are being assaulted by this Pinktober crap and all the breast cancer games. Take care of yourself and just take it one day at a time.

  6. Let’s hope for a cure so we can be done with all this. In the mean time we should also not forget the basics. We need to put breast cancer on a diet. Diet and exercise almost always play a role in any human illness. Green tea and broccoli are helping some people and drinking more water helps just about everybody.

  7. Walked into my grocery store Sunday & they had all pink plastic bags! Early I guess. They use purple for Easter but this is the first time I’ve seen pink. I wonder what other horrible diseases should be represented everywhere? My guess is that anal cancer or testicular cancer won’t have a theme. Cuz breast cancer is fun! Makes me sick even though I ignore it as much as possible.

    1. Janine, I haven’t been shopping lately, so I haven’t seen much pink shenanigans – yet. Then again, it’s only Oct 1. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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