Whew, we’ve nearly made it through another Breast Cancer Awareness Month! To wrap up Pinktober, the 2019 edition, I thought I’d share some random observations. Be sure to share yours in the comments too.
1. Randomness. That is my first observation.
My mind has been all over the map this month. Random. That’s me. I am so darn aware of breast cancer and all the random ways it has impacted my life and the lives of so many others I know. Nine years out from my diagnosis, and there is still fallout. I continue to pick up the pieces.
If you’re reading this blog post (thank you), you likely are more than aware too, and perhaps continue to pick up the pieces of your life as well.
2. Dear Hubby and I started out BCAM with a trip to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN for a consult with plastic surgeon #4. Do we know how to kick of Pinktober or what?
Yes, I said plastic surgeon #4. WTF. I cannot believe this piece of my medical history myself. I also had a CT scan. (I’m fine. Mostly.)
And yes, I feel guilt. Guilt will likely be a post all its own at some point. But for now, I feel guilty for even bringing up the above mentioned trip as I fully realize my friends with MBC have been enduring grueling medical appointments this month (and every month) to continue their life-long treatments. They are SO aware. Every freakin’ day, they are aware.
So, what do I have to lament about?
And yet, I have been doing a fair amount of exactly that. Dear Hubby would likely agree. None of this breast cancer crap is easy for our loved ones either. Cancer sucks. Period. And the collateral damage lingers on.
3. I have noticed less pink marketing bullshit online and in brick and mortar establishments. I mean, a lot less! (Or is it just me?)
Granted, I only made one trip this month to my local mall where I passed one relatively speaking, meek BCAM display. I was going to take a pic of it on my return pass on my way back to my car, but the display was so unmemorable, I forgot to do it.
I think this less-pinking thing might be progress.
4. Also, during my grocery store visits, I did not see one food item with a pink ribbon label on it.
Remember the melons label nonsense a few years back? I sure do. If you do not, consider yourself lucky.
Woohoo! Dare I say it, more progress. (Or maybe I just need to get out more.)
5. The NFL seems to have jumped off the pink bandwagon. Sort of.
I Googled this because I took notice that my favorite team has not been decked out in pink this October as in years past. It appears the NFL has chosen to focus more broadly on all cancers by promoting its Crucial Catch campaign during October. Players can show their support by wearing any color or ribbon.
Maybe. Maybe not.
6. Important discussions about male breast cancer are happening at least somewhat more openly and frequently.
We still have a long way to go, but I sense some progress regarding discussion. However, men continue to have poorer survival rates, so clearly there is lots more work to be done. You might want to read Dr. Attai’s piece, Update on Male Breast Cancer.
7. Metastatic breast cancer is out of the shadows and patients and their fellow advocates are bringing their voices to the table, but too many are still dying.
Until MBC is front and center during BCAM, until research is the priority, until treatments are less harsh, until more MBC patients are included in clinical trials and at the table at conferences, until treatments become less harsh and extend lives by years rather than months, until we see less disparity and most importantly, until the number of deaths from MBC screeches to a halt, we cannot ease up on our advocacy efforts.
This year there are expected to be nearly 42,000 deaths from MBC in the US alone. 500 of them will be men.
Why is this number not going down?
8. Just when I think things have improved in the last few years regarding advocacy shenanigans, I see this:
Yes, that is a breast self-exam depiction on the front of an airplane. You can read about and even watch a video showing the ridiculousness of this particular campaign here, if you want to.
And then there was this gem:
The worst I saw this year was probably a Boob Bus. I can’t even share the photo. I just can’t. Just picture a large pink bus with balloon breasts bobbing all around it. Visualize those gigantic, inflatable holiday blowup snowman and Santa Claus decorations people put out in their yards; yeah, picture those, only as breasts.
Infantalization of breast cancer needs to stop too.
So, those are a few of my observations as another Pinktober comes to end. Some are encouraging, some not so much.
Sometimes it feels like we take one step forward and two steps back. Or that the steps we take are merely baby steps at best.
Some progress is better than no progress at all. But still, why is some of the craziness so hard for so many to understand?
It’ll take all of us continuing to work together to make bigger strides.
I’m in for the long haul.
What about you?
For now, goodbye Pinktober.
And Happy Halloween! 🎃 🎃 🎃
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What’s an observation about BCAM 2019 you’d like to share?
Where have you seen the most progress? The least?
What specific ideas do you have to elevate awareness into more meaningful action?