It’s finally November & October can go away now. Because as we all know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Believe me. We’re all aware.
Now before I start my rant, I need to preface this by saying that I am absolutely in love with the absolute love & support I get from my family & friends. I love that my coworker thinks of me when she sees a beautiful pink ribbon pin & gives me one. I love that my favorite Girl Scout Troop Leader writes on my Facebook wall “Happy Support Your Boobs Month!” Or when a former coworker texts me “…shit, I just realized I have to buy a pink shirt and go do a walk or something this month because I know you…”
I love that.
What I don’t love is the hype. Because it’s hype focused on the wrong thing.
I think my final straw was this:
Is this doing anyone any good? Are women getting the diagnostic services they need because Swiffer decided to make money from my disease? Are any of these companies that throw a pretty pink ribbon on their product truly donating the proceeds to breast cancer research?
October won’t let me forget. It was the month I was diagnosed. It was the month I had surgery to remove my tumor. It was the month I spent wishing this nightmare would go away. It’s now the month that I start my annual round of follow ups. Scans, mammograms & oncologists (oh my!).
Yet somehow, October always leaves me feeling like I’m not enough of a survivor. Like I’m a fraud. There are women out there who are still fighting this battle – who will be fighting it for life. Metastatic Breast Cancer is rediagnosed in 30% of the women who had my type of cancer. These women are Lifers. They will fight this cancer that has spread from their breasts to their bones & their lungs & their blood until their battle on this earth is over.
This is the breast cancer we don’t hear about. This is the breast cancer that kills 40,000 women every year. And no amount of pink Swiffers will give these women extra days.
So far, I’m in the 70% who haven’t had their cancer return somewhere else. There are times when I downright forget that I ever had cancer. And then that same useless pink Swiffer in the middle of Wal-Mart reminds me.
I went through my battle. I won’t diminish that. I felt the exhaustion of treatments. I went through days where I wanted to pull the covers up over my head & tell the world to fuck off. And I am a survivor. I always have been.
But there are women who won’t survive. What we need is more education. Before I was diagnosed, I didn’t even know that metastatic breast cancer existed. Next October, let’s use the month to educate people about this cancer that will absolutely kill. Let’s put away the pink ribbons & the hanging bras from bridges & find a way to support the women out there who are facing this disease head on. Every day. For the rest of their lives.