It's that time of year again. Oh, how I hate it. I have only had one thing go "viral" in my online life, and that is the photo I made of Ralphie from A Christmas Story dressed in his hideous pink bunny costume with the caption, "It's Here: Welcome to Pink Hell Month." Rather than a photo I think I can finally put it into proper words. It is my greatest wish that people outside of the breast cancer world will now understand.
A dear friend of mine was just diagnosed with advanced stage lung cancer. It has spread to her eyes. She is facing quite an ordeal. At first they weren't sure if the primary cancer was lung or breast cancer. The biopsy revealed the origin and her treatment plan is forming. She has been receiving love, concern, flowers and genuine support from friends and family from all over. Her disease is being taken quite seriously. People are actually thinking about what they can do to support her. Because she does not have breast cancer, she is being spared the easy-way-out form of support.
She is not being demeaned or compartmentalized into a pink box. Not a single polyester ribbon has crossed her threshold. No one has given her a pink baseball cap with a "cute" saying on it. No one has told her that they bought an extra six-pack roll of toilet paper because it is "supporting the pink." Throughout this entire hell on earth she is living, no one has taken away her dignity.
Just like when a man gets diagnosed with cancer, people are offering her true, meaningful, thoughtful support.
Breast cancer is no less a cancer than other cancers. It spreads. It takes away body parts. Its treatments are harsh. And it never seems to let you alone. What is it about breasts that make it a less serious disease? Is it because you can say "boobies" and "ta ta's" like a sixth grade playground sniggering joke?
In our bodies it is no joke. Our immune system knows only the assault. Just as lung, prostate, testicular, liver, skin or any other type of cancer, the malignant cells rapidly divide, mutate, spread, seek and destroy healthy cells. So, just like lung, prostate, testicular, liver, skin or any other type of cancer, don't diminish us with the easy way out: a cheap piece of fabric tied to a mass marketing plan orchestrated by a major corporation hijacking our disease. Why? Because that translates into the care we get; the research allocated and the way you make us feel when we already feel like hell. We want a cure. We want better treatments. We want to retain our person-hood. It is not easy to do that when you are being treated like a child playing Pretty, Pretty Pink Princess.
If my words have not convinced you, perhaps this quiz will.
All three of the following slides are actual microscopic views of cancer cells. Which one is the breast cancer?
(slide 1 is breast, slide 2 is lung and slide 3 is prostate)