Forgotten in a Pink World?
I was sitting in a chapel in Ely Cathedral this afternoon and reflecting on the dedication of the chapel. The focus is on prisioners of conscience and victims of torture. The reredos of the altar shows the implements associated with the life of Christ including the scourge, the crown of thorns, nails and hammer. The thought that kept coming into my mind was that one of the worst things for prisioners is the thought of being forgotten. While I don’t directly compare the situation that those of us with metastatic breast cancer with those who are held because of their moral, political and religious views I do feel that we have become the forgotten in the breast cancer movement. While others get the attention and have become mainstream and acceptable we are still considered to be controversial and making rather a fuss about our diagnosis when we should be celebrating ‘survivorship’ and the success of cancer treatments. The future is bright … the future is pink.
I love pink. It is my favourite colour. Even the netbook that I am typing this on is pink, but it is a colour which has been high-jacked as representing only the positive side of a disease which is killing thousands of people every year. It is a feminine colour which is forces the association between breast cancer and women, but men die of this disease as well. It is not gender specific any more than it is age specific. How must men with metastatic breast cancer feel? Ignored by the breast cancer community and isolated from their peers. After all isn’t there something vaguely silly about a man having breast cancer? Something feminising? I think not. ‘Boobs’ are not funny when they are the source of a disease that kills.
Breast cancer = pink ribbons = October is not a sum that adds up. Shouldn’t it be something more like breast cancer = over 450,000 deaths a year worldwide = pink ribbons = research = awareness http://info.cancerresearchuk.org/cancerstats/types/breast/mortality/uk-breast-cancer-mortality-statistics#world That means that nearly half a million people die each year of breast cancer. Still think it is pink? Still think it is about survivors?
Why do those who lead the promotion of breast cancer awareness portray it as all things Pink and Fluffy, and above all curable? How many of those who have experienced this disease are aware that there are things that they can do to prevent a recurrence? How many stop taking their medication because they are ‘cured’ and think it has gone forever because they are in the Pink and Fluffy majority for whom this might be the case? But the numbers involved are huge and even if 70% make it nearly half a million deaths per annum means that a lot don’t. I think it was Stalin who said that one death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic. But who wants to be a statistic?