Bonfires and Bluejeans

Randoms from my spot next to the fire

Just a little rant…

For the most part, I really don’t like the color pink.  At least not the Pepto-Pink color that has now become the overly sweet color used to celebrate “Pinktober”…all things boobies related.  Considering we just (thankfully) ended the month of October (aka shameless-retail-exploitation-of-women-with-a-life-altering-illness), now is as good a time as any to give you the low down on my opinion on the horrific ploy to make the world a place full of happy boobies.

I am not heartless..in fact I would like to think that, in some instances, I can possess a rather large heart.  One thing, however that will get my heart to shut down quicker than all get out is for somebody to sugar coat a reality that is far from sweet.  This may be a character flaw, but I would much rather look at it as an opportunity to bring the truth to the masses.  Especially when said masses are being continually taken advantage of in the name of happy boobies.

Don’t get me wrong.  I am so in favor of saving the lives that are altered by breast cancer.  Women (and men!) face this diagnosis regularly, and while more often then not it is an illness to be managed and worked through.  Definitely not saying breast cancer is likened to a cold, but there are so many different stages and points along the breast cancer spectrum.  Not saying each path and struggle isn’t significant in its own right…far from it.  But unfortunately this idea of “Pinktober” has lessened the impact of the potential seriousness of this disease.  While most women will ultimate heal physically from their ordeal, others will not.  Others are doomed to die.  It’s the point blank, blunt truth.  I cannot imagine being somebody diagnosed with end stage breast cancer having to watch somebody diagnosed while in stage one…maybe a little lumpectomy…might even have to do a little bit of radiation.  But really.  What are you fighting for?  The chances are extremely high you are going to make it through physically.  Probably with quite a bit of emotional and physical scarring, but make it none the less.  For those whose daily struggle is literally a fight to live, to even just survive, their perspective would be so different.  Literally planning a week ahead is difficult at best.

Why does this matter?  Because what on earth does buying something with a pink ribbon really have to contribute in the long run?  I’m just as guilty as the next person and have bought my fair share of “pink” over the time since my own mom fought her own battle.  These corporations-who have no intent on making a difference-prey on the victims and families of the carriers of this disease.  Everything from fun, goo filled boobs that must have been targeted to middle school boys to feel up to the pink wrist bands that share the sentiment of “save the boobies”.  Seriously.  How on earth is this saving lives?  Funding research?

I read this the other day on a blog of  woman who is facing the reality of her near death from metastasized breast cancer.  She realizes it will be a matter of time and has now stopped all treatments.  Her take is one that I am beginning to share:  If your beloved husband was hit and smashed flat like a pancake by a Peterbuilt truck, would you get a tattoo of a Peterbuilt truck put on your body to memorialize the horrendous accident that claimed the life of your soul mate?  Would you wear a tshirt with the image of the truck around proudly, even if it was just to help “remember” the accident?  As if you could ever really forget…

I’m really not on a soapbox here.  After watching my own mom struggle with her own battle with breast cancer…still in the NED (no evidence of disease) phase before any physician will publicly come out and say she’s cancer free (that’s a whole different post…so no comments on this part, please) I am gaining a whole new perspective of this horrible cancer.  Talk to me in a few more years, when she is clinically “out of the woods”.  It deserves much more than a pepto-pink ribbon.

Every struggle is different.  Each person’s reaction to this horrible cancer, its long-term effects, and lifelong changes to family members and caregivers are unique.  It is beyond cold and heartless to lump them all into a pink-power month…what about the other 11 months these women (and men!) are fighting the battles of their lives?  The real battles…not the ones that you might have had to take a week or so off work to put the band-aid on your lumpectomy and maybe a day to get the radiation all set up deserve a bit more attention-and action-than wearing a pink rubber bracelet.  Did you know that September is ovarian cancer awareness month?  That it is much more deadly and harder to detect than breast cancer?  That the treatment is less effective because many women don’t even go to the doctor until it is at stage 3 or 4?  That many women are diagnosed at a much younger age…so many still with young children at home that are left without moms.  Where is the awareness for those life and death battles?

There is a reason for this little tirade.  If you really want to actually do something effective…instead of buying cereal that displays the pink ribbon (because that must mean they make huge donations to cancer research) then try this.  Sign up for this website and actually do something that can save a life.  It’s a research program that you can sign up for the different research trials and studies that you qualify for.  If you meet the guidelines, then sign up.  Could be as simple as filling out a questionnaire or giving samples of breast tissue.  What do you have to lose?  Nothing.

I have seen the effects of breast cancer.  Of the rare, invasive kind that can come back with a vengeance.  The kind that they say “oh she had breast cancer…now it’s in her bones”.  I can say all of this because I’ve stripped the drain lines from the surgical site of a radical mastectomy.  Nothing…and I mean nothing…can prepare you for the emotional toll of seeing this.  The side effects of the chemo.  The moment a nurse walks in an the nausea sets in before the chemo is even started because that’s all you associate with the process.  The burned, charred skin of radiation.  The seemingly forever lasting effects of the drugs and radiation on a body.  Going to the bathroom is still a chore months after everything is complete.  As a daughter, living for the results from scan to scan.  That’s how I know.

If there is anyone that could possibly be saved because of your 15 minutes to fill out a medical questionnaire, would you do it?  If a mom could be told that she actually had time to attend her daughter’s wedding…her son’s graduation…live to see grandchildren…would you do it then?  Or would you just stick to buying the granola bars that have a ribbon on it?

I thought so.  Here is the link to The Army of Women.  If you want to make a real difference, this is how you can.

God bless~

-Jennifer

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