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Thursday, October 4, 2012

Is the Breast the best?

Save the Ta-tas!
Gotta love the branding

Ahhh, it's October AKA Breast Cancer Awareness Month. 

This is the time of year where men and women alike proudly don pink ribbons, pink t-shirts, pink socks and more. Beauty companies roll out their exclusive pink products, NFL players sport pink cleats and wristbands, and the White House is illuminated in pink light for an entire month. Walks and runs are organized, celebrity galas are scheduled, and companies hock products where a small percentage of the revenue goes to breast cancer research. On one hand it's amazing to see the entire country focused on one disease, more information about self breast exams, and increased coverage on survivors. And on the other hand—perhaps I'm just cynical—I can't help wondering where the love will be come November. Will everyone put away their pink ribbons until next year? For the cancer patients who are dealing with the disease everyday it's more than an excuse to dye your hair pink "for the cause," it's the fight for your life and you need support the entire year. 

One thing about me—I'm ultra sensitive when I see or hear the big C-word—which is why I can't watch the Showtime series with the same name and refuse to watch "Breaking Bad" even though I've had the following conversation with several of my friends:

Friend: "It's such a great show! You should definitely watch it!" 
Me: "I can't watch that show, the chemistry teacher has cancer! I get enough of that in real life, that's why I watch 'Real Housewives,' mindless, ridiculous reality TV. No cancer." 
Friend: "Oh, that's right. I totally forgot he has cancer. I think he might be cured now." 
Me: "Grrr, how nice for you that you can forget about cancer."

So October always makes me feel sad because cancer is everywhere. Everywhere

I've found that if I mention offhand to a stranger that I have cancer, automatically they ask, "breast cancer?"  "No," I say back, offended that just because I'm a woman, I have to have breast cancer? I know it's not their fault, breast cancer awareness is a staple in our society…other cancers just don't get the same amount of attention. September is actually Blood Cancer Awareness Month and I had to google that to be sure! What ribbon should I be rocking in September? Ummm….I had to google that too! Because although red is the color of blood (nice image), HIV/AIDS owns the red ribbon, so lymphoma's official color is…wait for it…lime green. Random. I've still seen red and even orange (again, random) ribbons associated with the disease as well. So maybe I'm just bitter that "my disease" doesn't have the same great PR campaign as breast cancer.

But is breast cancer better because it gets more attention, and as a result more money? Let's face it, awareness equals money, money equals research (hopefully, unless you are Susan G. Komen) and research equals drugs, treatment plans and cures. It's hard not to feel overshadowed by breast cancer (I can only imagine how people with very rare cancers feel) and yet, as a woman, I still fear getting the disease myself. As if I don't have enough to worry about…women who receive radiation in the chest (which I haven't received yet, but may in the future) technically have a higher risk of breast cancer. So even though October isn't "my" month, when you have cancer, every month feels like cancer awareness month!


  1. I'm a Hodgkin's survivor as well. I refuse to watch the Big 'C', 'Breaking Bad', or even '50 50'. For some strange reason, I don't find cancer entertaining!!!! How could I?
    p.s. I love your writing and am constantly rooting for you! You're a great inspiration!!

  2. I completely understand your frustration. My mom had lung cancer and that cancer is usually shrouded in shame, yet most new lung cancer cases are from never smokers, like my mom. We don't get a big PR campaign or pretty ribbons and the technology/treatment available has not progressed since the 80s, no wonder it's the # 1 cancer, killing more people than the next 4 most popular cancers combined :-(