Moving on …

October/Pinktober is over for another year. Phew. I made it through with a bit of my sanity intact and the potential to get the rest of it back during November as the veil of the Magic Month is drawn back to leave us with 11 months of the truth of what breast cancer is, and not what the PR and marketing departments of various organisations would have us believe it is. It is a bit like confusing an actors character with who the actor really is as a person. The character is a created persona for the purpose of telling a story, which is then enacted by a person who may be the opposite of the character that he is portraying; he just has the skill to make us believe in the persona which has been created by others. However that character only exists for the duration of the play, film, book or TV series etc. What about the rest of the time? What is the actor like when the director shouts ‘cut’? The creation of the Pink Ribbon story is a bit like the creation of The Waltons. An ideal family who have their struggles but overcome them because they are a close family who love and care for each other. We don’t get to see the realities of life in The Great Depression we see an image that allows us to be comfortable and nostalgic about a time that many of us never knew, and hardships and struggles that we have not had to get through.

At the moment I am feeling like a weakling and a bit of a lightweight in dealing with my cancer. I have ground to a bit of a halt over a lot of small, and what should be manageable; things which have come together to make me unable to deal with things and I have been signed off work for a month with stress, anxiety and depression. Each factor on their own I can deal with, but when they all came together I got to the point where I couldn’t get dressed or wash, couldn’t be bothered to eat properly. Where I became so confused about what I was doing with my medication that I stopped taking it altogether. What time of day is it? What day of the week is it? Why do I have to go on pretending to be the strong cancer warrior who is taking this all in their stride, and for what? A Pink Ribbon and the promise that I will be a survivor. The constant reminder that I should be a survivor and that I should be grateful for all the money that is donated to “breast cancer causes” and which is frittered away on ‘awareness’, executive salaries for big showy sparkly non-profits, on finding a treatment so the survivors can go on surviving, which they may do anyway. All the while they are forgetting that there are still thousands who need a cure right now.

We all need to move on from Big Pink and find the true character of breast cancer. Not the one portrayed by an actor, but the real one without the glitz, makeup and prepared dialogue that is delivered on cue by experts. It is time to say ‘Goodnight John Boy’ and get on with the reality of living with breast cancer.

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