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Brace Yourself. The Pink Wave (Breast Cancer Awareness Month) Is Upon Us. Again.

As I’ve written about before, October will always belong to my dad. This fact will never change, and I find so much comfort in it. And balance. And a lot of other things. But, of course, October also means it’s time to brace yourself. The Pink Wave is upon us. Again.

Are you ready?

Every year, I think about how best to approach October, aka Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Sometimes, I gotta admit, I don’t want to approach it at all. I mean, how many ways and how many times can we keep harping on some of these same issues, right?

As I said last year, and the year before that, and the year before that, and the year before that – as many times as it takes.

Speaking only for myself, silence is not an option.

Looking back at my first BCAM month post (yikes, it’s pretty bad; it literally makes me cringe now), I realize I had a lot to learn back then.

I guess my point is just because those of us in Breast Cancer Land are too well acquainted with all the problems with BCAM and beyond (and there are many), I don’t think we can assume everyone else gets it. Clearly, they don’t.

I keep reading that everyone’s aware of breast cancer. True.

But specifically, what exactly are most people aware of?

That’s the million dollar question, and it’s why I keep pounding the keyboard writing pieces that I hope might resonate or make a small difference when someone out there sees it float by on Twitter or wherever.

Did you watch the Ruth Bader Ginsburg special on CNN?

I love that woman.

One really good quote of hers that stood out for me was this one:

Real change, enduring change, happens slowly, one step at at time.

I know my friends with metastatic breast cancer are impatient, as they should be. I am too. We all want change (such as better, less harsh treatments that extend lives) to speed up. We all wonder why the same issues many of us have been talking about for years, still need talking about.

The primary one being the fact that 41,000 women and men are still dying from metastatic breast cancer every single year in the US alone. Why hasn’t this number gone down?

And why do so many people know little or nothing about metastatic breast cancer?

I fear we’ve not been as successful as many claim we’ve been.

And there are all the other issues/questions such as:

Why is breast cancer still so often portrayed as merely a bump in the road that you can easily navigate, preferably, with a smile on your face, in about a year’s time and then simply move on?

Why is breast cancer so tied up with shopping in the first place? I mean, really, why is it the shopping disease?

Why do pink ribbon shenanigans continue year after year too often portraying breast cancer as some pink party-like sorority?

Why so much focus on saving breasts rather than on saving lives?

Why is a still too often deadly disease still trivialized?

And on and on and on.

But this is exactly why those of us who are able and feel up to it must persevere. We must keep the #breastcancerrealitycheck narrative going. Slow change is better than no change.

So what will my approach be this October?

It’ll be the same as last year. To persevere.

I hope you’ll join me.

And come November, I will be more than ready for a wave of another sort and another color.

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If you think this post has value, please share it. Thank you.

How are you feeling about BCAM this year?

What helps you persevere in advocacy, or in anything, for that matter?

Do you intend to get louder, quieter or just “hide” until November? 


Brace Yourself. The Pink Wave (BCAM) Is Upon Us. Again. #breastcancerawarenessmonth #breastcancer #cancer #advocacy

Beth L. Gainer

Monday 12th of November 2018

Hi Nancy,

This year, I just chose to remain incognito in October. I just wanted to crawl into my shell. But I survived it, and I'm thankful it is November. BCAM being in October is nauseating because I, too, love the month. But I love November more because of Thanksgiving.

Thank you for writing this important piece. And, yes, I totally get why the message must be repeated. I've noticed much less pink hoopla in my area, but it still exists. Ugh.


Monday 12th of November 2018

Beth, Sometimes you gotta go incognito. I get it. Believe me, I get it. Thanks for reappearing! Enjoy November and thank you for commenting.

Leslie W

Thursday 4th of October 2018

I have always loved the month of October, my favorite holiday is Halloween, for my family it was the start of the dune riding season, full of campfires, friends, riding and the start of cool weather. I decorated for Halloween all month, dressed up every year, I say all this because this was all pre-cancer. Peripherally I was aware that it was breast cancer awareness month but like many of us, it was a fleeting thought of it could happen to me but probably won't... sigh the innocence of it all. Now after bc it feels like my own freaking national PTSD month filled with triggers and anger, a vacillation of wanting to reach out and support but feeling angry and twitchy about all the attention and over-hype. I figure I spend every month fighting my own personal battle, thinking about it, talking about it, crying about it, obsessing about it that I can allow myself to reclaim October and Halloween and all the beauty and happiness it can give me.


Friday 5th of October 2018

Leslie, I love October too. I'm glad you allow yourself to reclaim it. Enjoy every minute. Thank you for reading and sharing. Wishing you a happy Halloween a bit early!

maryellen galley

Wednesday 3rd of October 2018

I love the color pink and I will not let others steal that joy. I am in my second year of living with metastatic breast cancer and my philosophy is to advocate and educate. Do more than pink is what I challenge my family, friends and co-workers to do. I will attend the Metavivor Stampede in Washington DC and plead for more funding. I don't think we will change the "PINK" out during October but maybe we can make it more than about breasts and make it about finding a cure to save those with Metastatic Breast Cancer.


Wednesday 3rd of October 2018

MaryEllen, I love pink too! Your philosophy sounds pretty darn good. Do more than pink - that is smart advice. It's great you're attending the event in DC. Good for you. Maybe you'd like to write about your experience for a MetsMonday featured post sometime. Or about anything you want. But yes, let's definitely put our focus on what matters. Saving lives. Thank you for sharing.


Wednesday 3rd of October 2018

I've NEVER liked BCAM - long before I was diagnosed I resented the commercialization, the tawdriness, and the trivialization of breast cancer. I hated that little girls were being taught (maybe subconsciously) that the color of girls is for breast cancer - linking them so firmly that breast cancer seems just a normal part of being female. I didn't like 'pinking' October - a month that by rights is associated with the colors of changing leaves, clear blue skies, fresh apples, black cats and pumpkins. I hated everything about it.

Now, four years after diagnosis, I'm just over it. I've written letters, talked until I'm blue in the face, averted my eyes from pink ribbons, spoken out much more aggressively than usual. Nothing changes. So this year I'm simply not reading any of the various newsletters, blogs and posts that pounce on the topic as though relieved that at least for this month it's easy to come up with a theme. I made an exception for your newsletter, Nancy, because I value your thoughts and the conversations they provoke.

Sitting in my in box I have emails re: "Celebrating Breast Cancer Awareness Month Together." Nope. Not going to read anything that includes "celebrate." Another group, FORCE, announces that "Today Is Previvor Day." Well, how nice. But they're doing darn little to spread awareness of high risk mutations beyond BRCA1/2 - and you'd think those would be an important aspect of 'awareness,' wouldn't you? (Yes, I'm somewhat bitter. They want my $$ but offer nothing in return.)

I received a flyer in the mail yesterday from a highly respected local health organization touting a new location offering 3-D mammograms. The text started with the statement that "Nearly all women survive breast cancer, when it's found early." My jaw dropped. Really? Nice way to start BCAM, for one, by minimizing the real risks that bc presents. Nor is it true. Or supportive of those who are metastatic. There's so much wrong with that! Maybe that's the one organization I'll write to this year...

For the rest of it, I'm going to go all out on autumnal activities, averting my eyes from the pink tide and reclaiming October for my own enjoyment. Breast cancer's done enough damage - why should I let it steal my favorite month as well?

(I know this is long and ranting - thanks for hearing me out!)


Wednesday 3rd of October 2018

Julia, You know I do love a good rant, so of course, I love yours! That first paragraph is spot on. And I get so much stuff in my inbox, too, this time of year. Usually people just want to use my site as a platform to promote whatever their site is. Mostly, I ignore the stuff. Sometimes I agree to participate. Depends on my mood, I guess. But celebrating BCAM. Really? It's not a celebration, for crying out loud. I hear you on FORCE. And that flyer. Yeah. Enjoy fall and definitely don't let breast cancer steal your favorite month. I will not either. Thanks for reading and ranting. You're welcome to do so anytime.

Donna Funkhouser

Wednesday 3rd of October 2018

Julia, well said!


Wednesday 3rd of October 2018

I have noticed less "pinktober" marketing in recent years compared to 2010 when you first wrote about this. At that time, it seemed like everything was pink - cupcakes and cookies in the grocery stores, nearly every product saying they donate to breast cancer awareness, etc. I think there has been less of that more recently or maybe it just depends on where you live.


Wednesday 3rd of October 2018

Lindsay, I think I see less pink overload marketing, too, but then again, I might just be better at tuning it out. I know it's still going strong. You're right, it probably does depend on where you live, as Donna mentioned in her comment. It'll be interesting to observe the shenanigans this October. I guess. Thanks for commenting.

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