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Breast Cancer Awareness Month Is So Yesterday

Breast Cancer Awareness Month is so yesterday.

Do you agree with that statement?

During a recent #BCSM chat I participated in (terrific forum by the way), more than a few participants stated they felt we needed to move beyond awareness during Breast Cancer Awareness Month – way beyond; and not just in October, but all year long. 

Many felt we are all well aware – in this part of the world anyway.

I’m not entirely on board with that. After all, breast cancer (cancer period) is a global issue and many women are not fully informed, nor do they all have access to high quality medical care.

So yes, we still need awareness.

But we need more than awareness.

We need education about breast cancer, not merely awareness of it.

We need educated awareness.

We need reality. We need facts.

We don’t need a “prettied up” version of breast cancer.

What is awareness anyway?

Is it merely a realization that something exists?

Or is it being knowledgeable about whatever it might be? Is it about educating oneself about the facts?

THAT’S what I would love to see Breast Cancer Awareness Month turn into – sharing experiences (stage IV too), sharing facts, dispelling myths and pushing for further meaningful research.

How do we do this?

How do we shift from the too often over-simplified breast cancer awareness messages to more meaningful breast cancer education messages?

One conversation at a time.

Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter what we call Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It matters what we do and not just during October, but all year long.

Still, for this one blog post anyway I’ll go ahead and say:

October is Breast Cancer Education Month.

I like the sound of that.

What about you?

What does awareness mean to you?

Do you feel we need to move beyond awareness and if so, how do we do that?




20 thoughts to “Breast Cancer Awareness Month Is So Yesterday”

  1. I like that Nancy. October – breast cancer education month. Thank you for showing me a truth I hadn’t considered, that the awareness is not global.

    It’s so important to the reality of breast cancer that those of us living with MBC are not shoved to the back room anymore. Thank you for adding your voice!!

    Awareness to me means all stages of breast cancer are worthy of attention and commitment… breast cancer without borders. However, it’s time to move on from the fluff and smiles.

    big hugs to you dear friend.

    1. Carolyn, Breast cancer without borders, that is pretty good and encompasses so much when you stop to think about it. We still have a long way to go in regard to genuine awareness, especially when you think globally. I wish we could change the name of the month to Breast Cancer Education Month, but maybe that’s just the teacher coming out in me! Thank you for your comment. Hugs back!

  2. Yes, “education” might be more appropriate than “awareness.” These are good points you bring up. It’s easy for those of us who have been around for a while to feel – quite legitimately – sick of all the awareness. But it’s always important to remember that there are so many people with different experiences and opinions. There are lots of newly diagnosed women who feel great support from all of the attention to BC. I would not want to take away an ounce of that for them. And in most of the rest of the world, as well as some segments of our own society, awareness & acceptance is still very much needed. We still have great disparities between different racial & economic groups. So yeah, I think we need to keep the focus, but make it more realistic for more people. It’s not pretty pink packaging!

    1. Julie, It’s good to hear from you! All pink and pink ribbons and such do mean different things to different people of course. As you mentioned, everyone comes from a different perspective. Still, much of the information and portrayal of bc has been misleading and there’s real danger in that. Genuine awareness which is accurate and honest helps everyone more in the long run. Educated awareness is sorely needed. Thanks so much for commenting.

  3. Breast cancer education month is right on the nose! There needs to be more accurate information available. I was dx only two years ago, but was so naïve on the facts of bc. I believed that I just needed to get rid of the cancer and “voila” all would be good. I had no idea that it could metastasize (hadn’t even heard the word before) and that it could do so as quickly as it did. I am holding a fundraiser this month to help get some information out and to hopefully start some conversations around mbc so that it isn’t the elephant in the room any longer.

    1. Barb, There is that skewed representation out there that bc is the good/easy cancer – almost a “just get rid of it, stay positive and you’ll be fine” attitude. If only it were that simple, right? Good luck with your fundraiser! It’s fantastic that you are staring conversation about mbc. Bravo! Let me know how it all goes.

  4. Very well said, Nancy. I also appreciate your understanding of the complexity of this globally, and that in fact even awareness is so limited in many places. I am currently working with a small group of women on organising an appropriate event here later in October and it is incredibly complicated.

    You nailed it when you said “How do we shift from the too often over-simplified breast cancer awareness messages to more meaningful breast cancer education messages?”

    Absolutely – I so wish I knew the answer to that!

    Thank you so much

    1. Philippa, Thank you, my friend. Your opinion means a great deal to me. I hope you’ll keep us posted on your event. “Complicated” – that’s what bc is… as you well know.

  5. Breast cancer education month. I love it! True education, not heroic warrior stories. I agree awareness is a global problem. I do admit, however, I’m tired of the same rhetoric every October. It seems the messages repeat themselves, and so little progress is being made in the education part of the spectrum.

    Wonderful, thought-provoking post, Nancy!

    1. Beth, Well, you and I are both educators after all! Seriously though, we have over-simplified too many of the messages. Nothing about breast cancer, or any cancer, is simple. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  6. Nancy, I like the sound of breast cancer education month. There’s a real need I think to collectively push the “reset” button in our society, and realize again that breast cancer is a serious disease, that people are still dying in large numbers and we haven’t made that much progress in all these years. I love your vision of “sharing experiences, sharing facts, dispelling myths and pushing for further meaningful research.”

    1. Lisa, Yes, a re-set button; that might be nice, although I wouldn’t want to go back to the way things were either. But you’re so right, society does need to realize again that bc is still a serious disease and that people are still dying. We haven’t made much progress of late in changing those figures. Ultimately, that’s the bottom line isn’t it? Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts.

  7. Nancy, I love your blog and this post in particular! Awareness month gets on my Stage II nerves for a variety of reasons. (I recently posted about it and would love your thoughts) Where is the funding for Late Stage Treatment and why is it so small? I like the idea of Education Month, or even Cure Breast Cancer Month!

    1. Valerie, I know what you mean about the month getting on one’s nerves. I’m trying to view it as an added opportunity to be a bit more vocal. The funding for late stage anything is just horrendously dismal. I certainly agree we need to focus on prevention and everything in between. But far too many women are still dealing with stage IV right here and now. It boggles my mind how this end of the disease spectrum has received so little attention, support, funding etc. Thanks for your kind words. I will stop by your blog soon.

  8. I like your phrasing, Nancy. I think this month has much potential to bring information and to raise money toward cures, and real root-cause preventative measures. Since it’s already here, why not use it to our actual advantage? And I like the storytelling idea. There is no one breast cancer, and there is no one experience. It would be great to raise awareness of that reality.

    1. Catherine, I agree. We should seize the opportunity if we’re feeling up to the task – which this year I am. Next year, who knows? It’s all about raising awareness of the reality of breast cancer, that’s for sure. Thank you for reading and commenting.

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