50 Shades Of Pink

The top selling book in the UK at the moment is a rather steamy novel called ’50 Shades Of Grey’ about the relationship between a young woman and an older man who warns her to stay away from him because he is controlling.  Maybe Metastatic Breast Cancer should really be ’50 Shades of Pink’.  Actually that is a good name for the book I have always intended to write, and which others tell me I should write, but that is neither here, nor there.

Breast cancer is not just one pink, it has many shades.  The one that is the most visible is the pretty pastel pink of the breast cancer ribbon which is now ever present to remind me that I am not likely to be a fluffy pink survivor who is so beloved of the media and the breast cancer charity.  You know her … she’s the pretty one who will tell you about how she made it through the dark days to emerge as a pink survivor.  She will shed tears and tell you about her clear margins, and how they ‘got it all’.  She may even speak in hushed tones about her worst fear … that the cancer may come back in another part of her body, but she really doesn’t want to talk about that possibility as it is much too scary and stressful.

She is the Miss World/Universe/England/America/Congeniality contestant who just wants world peace, aka to be a survivor.  She is the Barbie of breast cancer dolls; and I am sure there actually has been a pink ribbon, breast cancer surviving Barbie because, well it just is so Barbie.  I however am a troll of the breast cancer dolls.  Over weight, with a wild mop of what passes for hair, and on occasion a bit of an attitude.  Don’t think they will be making a Barbie metavivor troll any day soon.  Mets just aren’t cute and just want world peace.  They want every piece of us, to chew up and spit out if they have a chance.  It has many forms so it is not just the pastel prettiness of the ribbon.  It is a washed-out pale pink with no get up and go (it got up and went a while ago); sometimes the pink has a definate purple tinge from the bruises inflicted on it on treatment days (no really it doesn’t hurt, just go for it and get the needle in me).  It is a bloody shade of pink on the days that I am just totally fed-up to the back teeth with the whole thing.  It can be fushia pink on some days, and neon pink when I lose my temper with it all.

Not many people know about these shades of pink.  Few people know about the shades of being oestrogen positive, or negative; progesterone positive, or negative; HER 2 positive or negative, or any combination of those six shades of pink that it wants to be right now.  Then there are the shades of being triple negative, DCIS … the list goes on.  Then there are the shades of pink for where it decides to go on its pink mission to suceed where other shade of pink have failed.  Pink for the bones, pink for the liver, pink for the lungs, a pink brain, pink skin and on it goes.  There are few places it won’t paint pink, given the chance.

There is no proven cure for this Pink invasion, and it is the type of breast cancer that kills.  Primary breast cancer can only kill if there are co-morbidity factors involved.  Metastatic breast cancer is also called secondary breast cancer which is itself sounds … secondary, as in not as important as primary breast cancer which takes first place in more ways than one.  MBC is the silent partner; the one whose name you dare not mention because it might upset the survivors who are the ones that everyone wants to know and love.  No one wants a troll.

Trolls upset the survivors, the charities that promote their own shade of pink, and you must not remind those with the real power to help that they are not doing so.  Above all don’t upset the pharmaceutical companies who remind the world just how much they really do want to help us … if only we weren’t so profitable for them.

Metastatic Breast Cancer advocacy is about reminding the world that we have a right to exist and be heard.  It is not about ‘real’ money to find a cure.  For goodness sake how many billions have already been poured into research since Nixon started the War On Cancer over 40 years ago?  It is about looking us in the eye and acknowledging our existence, our fears and feelings; our highs and lows.  After all so many cheer on the Pink Ribbon Dolls, but how many even recognise the existence of Pink Ribbon Trolls?



  1. Michal Poe

    So beautifully written and so true.

  2. Mindy Semanyk

    I could not have said any if these truisms any better myself!

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