Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Pinktober (Also known as Breast Cancer Awareness Month)

Ah, yes, it is that time of year again. When everything turns pink and companies encourage you to buy crap you don't need in a colour that is kind of lame so that a minuscule amount of your money can go to some charity that does something sort of related to cancer. Can you see which side of Breast Cancer Awareness Month I fall on.

This is a bit late, since the month is already mostly over. I don’t know why I’ve put off writing this entry. Maybe it is because I don’t want to seem sanctimonious. I mean, I am going to be sanctimonious, but I don’t want to appear that way. It is all about appearances, you see.

Before I was diagnosed I never took much note of October. Sure, it’s Breast Cancer Awareness month and that means that suddenly everything has to be pink. Beyond that, I never gave it too much though. Cancer = bad, awareness=good. It seemed simple, obvious even.

On the one hand, I was aware that breast cancer was an incredibly well funded cancer. I don’t know the stats off the top of my head but I know that it receives a lot more money via donations than a lot of much more deadly cancers. Now, part of the reason breast cancer isn’t so deadly anymore is all that money helped pay for research which helped improve outcomes for women like me. So the money has done a lot of good.

But it also seems unfair on some level, that it is a cancer that continues to get so much money and attention. There are people who will be diagnosed with esophageal cancer or pancreatic cancer who will face much worse odds and do so with less funding. Maybe more of the cancer money pie should be going their way. I felt this way before I was diagnosed; I feel this way today. 

I know, I’m taking a long time getting to my point. My point is this:

I hate Pinktober or Breast Cancer Awareness month now. You know why?

Breast cancer doesn’t need any more awareness. At least not the kind of awareness that is being peddled through pink crap.  I feel like awareness is a dead horse. It’s been flogged to death but every year we trot it out and take it through the streets and ask people to give their hard earned dollars so the damn thing can come out again next year and create more awareness. The horse looks like crap. Let’s just bury it already.

Don’t miss my point. I’m not saying don’t donate. I am saying donate to charities that do more than awareness. Stay away from Susan G. Komen! Stay away from charities and fundraisers that don’t fully disclose where their money is going. Don’t buy pink crap you don’t need since odds are only a teeny, tiny portion of that purchase will actually go to cancer related stuff.

Now is the part where I’m going to tell you where I think your money should be going to, if you want to give at all. Because there is still lots about breast cancer that could use money, it just isn't awareness. Give  to:

1. Research!

We need to understand why some Stage 1 breast cancer will be cured and other Stage 1 breast cancer will become Stage 4. Right now doctors don’t know, so we have to treat it all like it will try to kill you. Bet you didn’t know that not all breast cancer is making attempts on your life. Some will just hang out in your boob, leaving well enough alone. And if they can tell how badly cancer wants to kill you with more certainty, they can spare some people unnecessary treatment. Heck, we don't even know what causes breast cancer - you better believe I'd like some answers to that particular question.

2. More research!

They’ve been treating breast cancer the same way for the past 30 years. Sure, you don’t get as sick from chemo anymore but you still have to endure chemo. And radiation. And surgery. And hormones. Many women call the treatment available now: “slash, poison, burn.” I hope you never find out how accurate that is. And I hope that someday soon those aren’t words that can be applied to cancer treatment.

3. Support for cancer patients

The only charity I know for sure that does this in Canada is the Canadian Cancer Society. I’m sure there are more but the Canadian Cancer Society is the one I know. I trust them, and I used to work for them. They hooked me up with a wig, no questions asked, for free. They gave me resource material, for free. If I’d been in Canada they would have helped me get to chemo and radiation if I’d needed it, for free. Had I asked, they would have put me in touch with a survivor with a similar kind of cancer at a similar age, for free. They do that all for free because other people give them money.

I’ve been inside the Society and I know the work they do – it’s good work, it’s volunteer driven and it really helps people living with cancer (and the people who have to live with the people living with cancer, let’s not forget them). As an aside, they also channel a good chunk of the money they raise to research. Sure they’re bureaucratic and a bit old-school, but I can’t say enough positive about them. They aren't the only choice, but they are a good one.

And, if after all that, you still really want to be aware of breast cancer I'll leave you with an image that conveys what took me about a thousand words. 

Breast cancer isn't cute, pink shit; it's just shit. So make sure you donate to organizations that are trying to change that. 

1 comment:

  1. This is a tough one. I see no comments so far and that is unusual. Perhaps you have ruffled some feathers but I think they need ruffling. If you need more ruffling watch the NFB production "Pink Ribbon Inc." As always a good read Laura. By the way I am growing a goatee, it's Mowvember you know... what do you think of that?? Krank