One day in Pinktober
I have been trawling around breast cancer charity sites in the UK to try and find out what they are doing to help publicize Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day. The answer seems to be a big fat nothing, and we have no charities specifically for MBC.
For those of you who are not aware (so where the hell have you been for the last few decades?) October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It is the month of all things Pink, Fluffy, Cute and Survivor. For 31 days it seems as though the entire world has to be pink and happy, and companies have twigged that this can help sales, so they fall all over themselves to make the most of it, even if the product they are selling might include carcinogens which cause cancer or just be downright unhealthy. This is known as Pinkwashing and has so annoyed some in the breast cancer community that there is a ‘Think Before You Pink’ campaign to raise awareness of the whole issue. http://thinkbeforeyoupink.org/ which is part of http://bcaction.org/. Breast cancer action have labeled Breast Cancer Awareness Month as Breast Cancer Industry Month http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breast_Cancer_Action which is probably more accurate these days.
In the long month of Pinktober one day, the 13th (!?) has been declared to be Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day, but even that only happened a couple of years ago. So although 30% of the breast cancer community has MBC we only get one day out of 31. That day seems to me to have become a mourning day for the departed, but hey, wait just a minute there we are still alive, well I am and I suppose I can’t vouch for the rest of you. There is no cure for breast cancer which has spread. Yet the charities all claim to be doing a lot of work to educate the public, so why do so many people believe that breast cancer has been cured, and some even think that it is not much worse than having a broken leg? So should MBC Awareness Day be a day of remembrance – hell NO!
The 13th of October should be about educating everyone that breast cancer can spread, that many of us LIVE with this disease 24/7 for the rest of our lives. It should be about reminding early-stage survivors that there is a reason they have been asked to continue taking some medications for sometimes years after their active treatment has finished. It should be about letting early-stage survivors know that we exist and we are not contageous or a threat to their ‘survivorship’. It should also be about educating everyone that this is not a gender specific disease, which is why we should be moving away from Pink anyway because of its connotation of femininity. After all it takes balls to live with MBC, whether you have testicles or not!
Maybe MBC needs to move away from October as a whole and choose another day; and it should be only a day. The idea that breast cancer should have an entire month for awareness is making it seem more important than other forms of cancer. It may be one form of cancer that more people have, but it is not the only one. Surely if you have, say, cancer of the hand it is just as significant, and potentially fatal, as breast cancer; and for all I know there may be just such a form of cancer. Actually, if you think of it there are other cancers which need a lot more awareness than ours because basically in the developed world (I hate that term) woman should already know about breast cancer awareness, and if the word needs to be spread to any group it is men who should be targeted to make sure they know the symptoms and risks. Does it really matter that ten times more women die of breast cancer than men? I don’t think that anyone who loves and cares for a man with breast cancer will see that it matters.
So what day should be have? The first day of Spring with the associations it has with life? The longest day of the year, because sometimes this journey does feel like one long day. I think New Year’s Day is taken, or do we just plump for a day and see what comes up … wait a minute, just tied that a blind find on a years at a glance page in my diary and came up with 7 January, or is that too close to the post-Christmas slump? Tried it again and came up with 20 March. Any takers?