Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

I wrote this post last year  but didn't post it because I didn't want to scare anyone off. But these are my true feelings of "breast cancer awareness month".


I have a love/hate relationship with this concept. First I love it because it obviously brings awareness to a cause that is personal to me. I hate it because I feel like people use it to exploit people for their time and money.

The concept of supporting breast cancer awareness is great. Give money for research so people in the future won't have to deal with this terrible disease. I'm totally for that. I hope Mackenzie NEVER EVER EVER has to go through this. Not at 18, 28, 38, 48, 58, 68, 78, 88, 98 or 108. I hope by the time she is old enough to know what breast cancer is there is a cure. There are people that are working so hard to fight this cancer (click here to read about an awesome clinical trial for a breast cancer VACCINE!!) and all cancers, to know why cancer happens to certain people and why it doesn't. But they need to be fighting and working harder, and they need a lot more money.

That's where the hate part comes in. I hate to see signs that say "Buy this ($50) shirt and 5% of the cost will be donated to Susan G Komen for the Cure (or any other charity). Okay so 5% of $50 is $2.50. Of that $2.50 about 20 percent actually goes to cancer research so now that $50 you spent is $.50 for cancer research. More of that $2.50 will go to administrative costs and fund raising expenses. I know its not all Susan G Komen's fault either (or any other charity). The company that wants you to buy the shirt puts that there to make customers feel better about buying that shirt they don't really need because money is going to charity.

I'm actually really lucky to have the cancer I have have had the cancer I HAD. The most common type of the most common cancer. Breast cancer gets an entire month of pink ribbons and walks and awareness. Imagine being Kris Carr and having epithelioid hemangioendothelioma (EHE link to reference), a vascular cancer in the lining of the blood vessels in her liver and lungs so rare that only 0.01 percent of the cancer population has it (info from wikipedia via link above). She doesn't have support groups or walks to raise money. How terrifying.

October has been a tough month for me. Its when I've felt like I've had breast cancer. So its been hard to see so much pink every where with promises of donating however much money to cure breast cancer. Things like sending in yogurt lids in order for Yoplait to donate is absurd to me. We had a drive for this at work once which was a great and tough effort. Do you know how hard it is to get people to remember to save their lids, put their lids in the right place then round them all up and send them in? Why can't Yoplait just donate the $2.5 million they promise in the beginning without people jumping through hoops?

When you walk through stores and they have their displays with pink ribbons every where and you are in active treatment (or a survivor) you are hyper sensitive to whats going on. Part of me thinks that I should get massive discounts because I have HAD breast cancer and its breast cancer awareness month.

I'm SO aware of breast cancer. And people who have been effected by breast cancer (or any other type of cancer) don't need a month to be aware of their cancer. I get that its a tool to do massive fund raising. But I don't agree in the way its happening. We don't need cups and hats and car magnets and towels with pink ribbons. Because that money doesn't really go where it should be going. Donating that $50 directly to Susan G Komen or the American Cancer Society or the National Breast Cancer Foundation or to Stand Up 2 Cancer makes sure that those charities are getting the money that you want to go towards breast cancer. Of course, if you want the hat, car magnet, cup, ect then by all means. Just know that the money isn't always going where you think or want it to go.

Lastly, things like these pictures make me really angry. People use different ailments to become advantageous and to make themselves more popular. Believe it or not, some people thrive on other peoples problems.

Because if 60+ people don't like your Instagram picture then what? Cancer won't get cured? This is serious to me. This is my life, my future, my daughters life and future and my moms life and future. Its infuriating to see it being tossed around so someone can make a profit. I will continue to wear my pink shirts, my pink jacket and carry my pink binder. I'm excited to help people find and use the resources available to them (seriously, google free stuff for cancer patients).


Even though I was in a totally different place last year, it remains the same. What we need is MONEY for research. Because obviously early detection doesn't work for everyone. What about those of us (the raising number of women or men) who are HALF the recommended age for a mammogram? Those women who have had breast exams EVERY year? Those women whose cancer isn't detected until its stage III? Those women aren't benefiting from the $1 from every cup/shirt/hat sold. Those women need REAL money to fund REAL research by REAL doctors who REALLY want to find a cure. 

If you ever need a charity to donate to, especially on my behalf, please make it a research based charity (Stand Up To Cancer) or a charity that helps women FOR free during their fight (The III B's or Fighting Fancy). Because those are the ones that are going to make a real difference to someone. 

I'm not knocking early detection. It caught my moms cancer early twice. But it's not the only thing that's going to stop cancer.