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Archive for October, 2010

So, after that last post I’ve had several more conversations which have helped me clarify how I feel about “Breast Cancer Awareness Month”. I am eternally grateful for BCAM because without the last 25 years of it there wouldn’t be all of the things going on that happen this month. Real money is raised. Some people are educated, more every year. Maybe even some lives are saved because they did check and they did call their doctor but, they keep saying early detection doesn’t ‘save’ lives. And given the mortality rate, that is a reasonable thing to say.

Now admittedly, buying pink, for some people, is an easy way for them to feel like they are contributing to a solution without having to DO anything but buy stuff. I mean, none of them are going to do a breast self exam standing in the middle of the aisle at the grocery store just after purchasing a can of soup with a pink ribbon on the label. There is a lot of awareness but most people still have the invincibility thing going on – this isn’t going to happen to me. I was right there with you babe.

I have been in touch with women who were aware but didn’t do self exams and never had mammograms which are the big messages of the month. Of course inflammatory, which is what I was diagnosed with doesn’t act like regular bc so you can check and you can get mammograms and still get diagnosed with stage iv.

And lets face it, breast exams and mammograms find it. They don’t prevent. They don’t cure. They find it. So what if we changed it from “Awareness” to “Education” or “Prevention” month. What if we started having real conversations about the things that cause kancer, not just breast cansr but all of them. What if we had conversations about the toxins in our environment, about the things we use every day that contain products our bodies were never meant to process, and what about these companies who donate to research but sell products with known carcinogens. I mean isn’t that like Hostess donating to Weight Watchers? What if we had real conversations about our diet, as a society and how it contributes to these chronic health issues that are out there and saying let’s see how we can use our food to keep us healthy.

What if we changed it to Education – a lot of that happens this month anyway – and taught about the different versions of cansur out there. I mean if you want to make me angry, broadcast on a national news show that breast cantsir doesn’t hurt. Bull. Mine hurt – inflammatory often does. It doesn’t come on that fast is another one I hear. Really? Because as near as we can tell the first signs something was wrong were less than 2 months before I was at the doctors.

Please remember, as you are being an informed pink consumer and seeing all of these uplifting stories this month that this is a disease that maims and kills. Pink is pretty, canser isn’t. Chemo and radiation aren’t fun and they aren’t easy despite how some people make it seem. Making a decision to cut off your breasts or have you ovaries removed or a full hysterectomy is not pleasant. This disease steals mothers from their children, wives from their husbands, daughters from their parents, sisters from their siblings and dear friends away from people who love them. And lets not forget the men – about 2,000 of the people diagnosed with breast canser this year will be men.

So support research, support the people you know who are diagnosed, be smart when purchasing pink, and think about all the other pieces and take care of yourself, don’t just be aware, be pro-active.

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Okay, so October is breast cansor awareness month, this is the 25th year for it even. There is a LOT of awareness, a cure… not so much. Prevention education… still, not so much. There is a plethora of pink products this month, under the guise of awareness and donating to research. Not surprisingly, a lot of this is a marketing ploy and… remember… it is still about the company selling you their product and making money. Some of these companies are marketing a product that can contribute to an increased risk of cancer. “Hey, we’ll help you get it but we’re donating money to help find a cure”. That doesn’t wash with me, or with a lot of women and mothers of young children I know who are worried about living long enough to see their kids get through elementary school or high school.

There are whole websites devoted to discussion of this ‘pink-washing’.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not completely opposed to the idea of purchasing some of these things, if you already were going to buy it and it turns out they are participating with a reputable charity, have at it. Just please be smart about it…

Here is a copy of a post that I put on a discussion board during a discussion about the commercialization of breast cantsir…
I have breast cancer and I am skeptical of a lot of the pink products that are out there. They are marketing with the idea that they are donating but I find lots of products where I cannot find the name of the charity they are donating, or cannot find how much they are going to donate. There are companies that require the purchaser to do extra work, mailing something in or registering on a website or something.

And then there are all the companies whose products have carcinogenic substances in them or things that are known to contribute in other ways but who are selling products that can or may cause cancer so they can donate to a cure?!? For example, Avon and Mary Kay, most of their products contain parabens which are problematic from a cancer and estrogen level perspective – but both boast of donating to breast cancer research. Improve your product and don’t donate and I’d think better of your company. I understand that Avon is working on this and I am not currently familiar with how much they use parabens now. The last time I spoke to a Mary Kay rep, in July, they were only able to find TWO Mary Kay products that didn’t have parabens.

Awareness is great, but the mortality rate hasn’t dropped significantly in the last 20 years, no cure has been found and evidently all this awareness isn’t really ‘saving lives’ on a large scale, you can always find those who say it saved them but there is no telling that it would not have still been caught reasonably early. I was aware but I was diagnosed at stage four and as near as we can tell I only had suspicious symptoms for about 6-8 weeks prior to diagnosis. I didn’t have a ‘lump’.

I’m not alone as a survivior who feels this way about the pink. I support Komen, my team – raised about $3500 in 2010 for the Race for the Cure and over $4000 in 2009. There are other groups out there that I will happily tell you about if you want to support either research or patients, breast cancer specific or just cancer in general. American Cancer Society, Cancer Family Care, Hospice of Cincinnati, Friends of Mel, Pink Ribbon Girls (local group), and more. Pink Ribbon Girls, Komen Cincinnati, Cancer Family Care and Friends of Mel have helped me and my family directly.

There are lots of websites out there about all this ‘pink-washing’ as it is called here are two… Think Before you Pink and pinkwashing among them, just do a google search. It really is overused as a marketing ploy by companies. Some companies are reputable and doing as they say but others aren’t. My perspective is that if it is something you were going to buy anyway, go ahead and buy it, but don’t do it just because they are donating. If you are that interested in participating in finding a cure, donate directly. Heck, you can still donate for this year’s Race for the Cure until the end of the month, I’m happy to send you my team site or my race site and you can do it online.

Please, support breast cancer awareness, but support research and prevention even more! and just be an informed, cautious consumer this month when you see the sea of pink.

I knew I had an elevated risk but I never expected to be dealing with advanced bc at my age. Frankly, I knew the statistics of 1 in 8 and I expected that it was likely I would be that 1, someday, maybe when I was 60, after my kids were grown and maybe even after I met a grandkid or two. The other part of it is that so many get it and are ‘cured’. I figured I’d find early stage and it wouldn’t be a real issue. Those things aren’t addressed during ‘awareness’.

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