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How Do You Feel About Breast Cancer Awareness Month – 2015?

As I mentioned in my previous post, it seems as if I’ve seen less pink craziness this year. Or else I’ve merely noticed less of it. Or I’ve tuned it out more. Regardless, another Breast Cancer Awareness Month is almost behind us. Whew! As far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t really matter, because as we all know, the advocacy work continues all year long. But still, I must admit, I’m rather pleased to say goodbye to another BCAM too. I thought it might be fun to find out how readers were feeling about BCAM this year, so I posed the question to my newsletter subscribers.

I’ll share a few responses with you. And btw, thank you to all subscribers who took the time to respond.

My friend, Cancer Curmudgeon, certainly surmised her feelings succinctly by saying this:

Pink is a stagnant institution.

Well, she knows how to get to the point, right?

Mary Ann wrote a research article for her blog and said this:

I abhor it. I cringe as the month draws near. However, when friends and family tell me they purchase pink items because of me, I am courteous and thank them. My neighbor went out of his way to buy me pink lapel pins and I will be gracious and wear them for him. But that is where I draw the line.

It seems Terri, who blogs at DiepCJourney, Reconstructing a Purposeful Life, chooses to wear an adjusted pink ribbon and explains why she does here:

Pink ribbons have taken on an entirely new meaning for me this year and especially the third Wednesday of October, Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day. The loop at the bottom of the familiar pink breast cancer ribbon is a symbol of “closing the loop on breast cancer”, moving beyond the diagnosis and rebuilding the body parts that were lost to breast cancer by having breast reconstruction. I wear that ribbon proudly this year as a spokesperson and advocate educating women about their choices for breast reconstruction.

And Rebecca who blogs at the small c, said this:

I survived cancer, so how come I am not like one of the happy-go-lucky girls all dressed in pink ribbons, celebrating their triumphs? I believe we’re never done with cancer—there’s no cure. After seeing so many people die from this disease, including family members, I just don’t feel like celebrating.

All are unique and honest responses.

As for me, I will close out with a favorite quote from my friend, Gayle Sulik, author of Pink Ribbon Blues. I like Gayle’s quote so much I am including it in my new book. Gayle’s words really sum up for me why I am so uncomfortable with most pink shenanigans during BCAM (and all year long):

Cancer is not a ribbon, a screening test or a leisure activity. It is not a sassy t-shirt, a proclamation of survivorship or a gift worth giving. It is a disease process that ignites what is all too often a cycle of medical surveillance and interventions, of which some succeed and others cause irreparable harm. For too many, it will be the eventual cause of death. They deserve better than this, and so do we.

Well said, Gayle and yes, we do all deserve better in October – and all year long as well.

Now that it’s about over, how do YOU feel about Breast Cancer Awareness Month 2015?

Did you see more, less or about the same amount of pink shenanigans this year?

Do you feel the focus toward metastatic breast cancer (instead of merely awareness) has shifted, or at least started to?

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 Mother Nature is still the best thing about October. And Halloween of course.

 

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Cancer Was Not a Gift & It Didn't Make Me a Better Person, An Excerpt, Part 1

Rebecca

Tuesday 3rd of November 2015

Nancy, I noticed less pink this year. One reason is because I am no longer focusing on it. I did notice more articles focusing on the other side of awareness, such as the stage 4 stories. Also, more patients are speaking up about their reality with cancer -- how it's never over. Like Wendi mentioned, there has been a shift on reactions from patients, but that has to do with the different stages of awareness which I believe we all go through (working on a post about this now). There is also the burden of awareness which most people do not want to deal with but sometimes are forced to. I feel my situation has forced me to be more aware.

Nancy

Tuesday 3rd of November 2015

Rebecca, I noticed less pink too. Others have mentioned this as well, so this gives me hope that the tide might be changing. We need the focus to be on breast cancer reality, not pinktified, fluffed-up awareness. Thank you for sharing.

judith

Monday 2nd of November 2015

I'm a former bodybuilder dx w/ non invasive Ductal Carcinoma (breast cancer). I had a lumpectomy, radiation chemo and now adjuvant therapy. It has been 10 months since I finished chemo. I am a psychotherapist and global mental health trainer and treatment provider of stress, anxiety, depression and panic. I live what I love and love what I do. But all that changed a year ago with my dx. I won my first bodybuilding competition in 2013 ans tried to do my next one in 2014 and then I was dx. My whole life changed. I lost a lot more than my best friend my body. I lost my mom, my dad and a lot of my lively hood. The thing I thought I knew best, my own body threw me a curve ball and I have not been able to find an new goal. I need support from a community that understands a fraction of what i'm going through.

Nancy

Tuesday 3rd of November 2015

Judith, I'm sorry about your diagnosis and I'm sorry you have lost so much. Cancer is a string of losses, but carry on we must. It takes time to regain your footing after a cancer diagnosis, so don't be too hard on yourself. You are still adjusting and adapting and this takes considerable time and effort. I'm not done yet and I'm five years out. I hope you find this community to be understanding. There are many great ones online. My best to you.

Beth Gainer

Monday 2nd of November 2015

Hi Nancy,

I felt pretty good this month. As you know, I don't believe in setting off months or days for special causes. These causes are important 365 days a year, 24/7. I don't know why our culture designates months and days for any causes (well, except for the holidays and Mother's Day, things like that). Why does metastatic breast cancer only have one day in October. It's a 365-days-a-year disease. It just doesn't make sense to me.

Nancy

Tuesday 3rd of November 2015

Beth, You're right, the causes extend well beyond one day or one month. Our culture does seem to have an awful lot of designations for this and for that. I guess this is okay, but then again, sometimes I wonder. But one day for mbc cancer during the month supposedly all about breast cancer awareness isn't even logical. Thank you for sharing.

kira

Sunday 1st of November 2015

I had to explain to someone yesterday why I don't find pink and BCAM helpful and today, I just forwarded her this post, as it sums up over an hour of conversation. Totally agree that those of us who have experience breast cancer will have differing needs depending on where we are in the process and what we're dealing with.

That said: I loathe pink October.

Breast cancer is not a gift and cause based marketing has created a social narrative that we have to fight to have the right to our own unique experience.

Nancy

Monday 2nd of November 2015

Kira, Thank you for sharing how you feel about BCAM. I don't loathe it. I still try to see it as an opportunity to inform, but I must admit, I am starting to wonder how many more ways we can keep saying some of these same things...

Cancer Curmudgeon

Sunday 1st of November 2015

The end of October is bittersweet for me because I love Halloween/Fall/October, so as much as I loathe all the rah rah Pink crap, I will always be sad to see October go. I was a little more tuned in this year so I was more aware of pink crap, but it didn't seem original or I just did not find it as outrageous as others find it. I'm noticing that patients new to breast cancer are seeing things and reacting, without seeming to know that the crap has been around forever. That is why I think Pink has become an institution. Well, that, and the fact the message of early detection etc has not evolved. BCAM has turned into a holiday to almost rival Halloween (which angers me to no end). Ugh, I'll stop rambling here--write my own post about it all when I come down from my Halloween candy sugar high!

Elizabeth

Tuesday 3rd of November 2015

Thank you, Nancy, for your blog-- I stumbled on it today while looking to see what I could find about taking my med every other day. October and Fall have always been my favorite time of year--until this post-dx year. I had very few days that I could 'block it out' temporarily, and just live without cancer in any way defining me. I have never been comfortable with the 'pink' even prior to my own dx. (The Week magazine has an article "The Unbearable Lightness of Breast Cancer" that sums it up well.) I hate that the promotion of awareness is so commercialized. [Please don't use awareness of my dx to promote football teams and to sell vacuum cleaners and cars!] I am grateful, however, for the awareness and ability to talk openly about breast cancer, for screening tools and amazing radiologists who specialize in breast imaging and see it before most would ever suspect it. Without these I would still be walking around in undiagnosed oblivion. But, we can't stop short of openly talking about the reality of it after the diagnosis; of the side effects of surgery, treatments, and long-term medications. Whatever the statistics and percentages about breast cancer, there is one statistic that is not stressed enough: breast cancer affects 100% of your life. I am not thankful for it, I do not believe that it makes me a better person. I do not have any choice but to walk this path in front of me. I do have a choice in how I walk it and who I walk it with. I want to choose to be positive, to be grateful, to be strong, and most days I succeed. Being positive and strong does not lessen the seriousness of my diagnosis. Some days I just choose to 'fail' for that one day, or for that one needed cry or scream. Falling apart does not mean I am not strong. I am now 8 months post the mammo that resulted in a bx, that resulted in a dx. I am 7 months post bilateral mastectomies. I am 5 months post starting Arimidex. I have one more reconstruction surgery scheduled for January. I appreciate so much the openness and honesty in the posts on this blog, and am so thankful to have found it. I understand the need to not feel alone, to feel understood, to be with people where you don't have to say anything, and everyone just knows how it is. But I don't believe 'pink' is the answer. Sites like this are great, with women being honest about the ugly, as well as sharing ideas, support, knowledge, encouragement and resources. Thank you.

Nancy

Monday 2nd of November 2015

CC, Pink has certainly become an institution, a marketing tool more than anything else perhaps. Sad to think BCAM might be over-taking Halloween. Hadn't really thought about that. I'm glad you still love Halloween though and it's nice it's at the end of the month, so you can keep your eye on that. Until next year... and thank you for sharing.

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