Sunday, September 30, 2012

Keep the Pink Where It Belongs

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?

One of these is breast, one is lung, and one is prostate. Interestingly, they are all pink on the pathologist's slide. Here is my wish for this October:  Let's keep the pink in the lab. Where it belongs. And may God help the researchers finally find a way to save us.

(slide 1 is breast, slide 2 is lung and slide 3 is prostate)


Kathi said...

Brilliant. But I am so sorry your friend is going through such an ordeal. Thought and prayers, G. And lots of love to you. Kathi

Julia said...

I want to start off by saying I am so sorry about your friends diagnosis and I will keep her in my prayers. I agree with everything you said in your posting! Breast cancer is not pretty and feminine like pink ribbons but a dreadful and ugly disease that continues to take wonderful special women from us way to soon. And yes for it's survivors it leaves us many times without our breasts in a society that makes us feel that that is the body part that defines us as women!! My greatest dream is to get to see a world without any CANCERS!

Arlyn Grant said...

Brilliant post, thank you!

Jen said...

I did my own post on the pink yesterday (if you are interested: and may have to either rework it or do a new post and include a link to your story (if you don't mind). This is exactly what I've been talking about for years...if you get another type of cancer, you aren't assaulted with a color and loads of pink junk...people just try to help. It's so sad that we have to *normalize* breast cancer and make people realize some of us just want to get better without all of the pink swag!

Elisabeth Dale said...

Beautiful, smart and incisive post. Thank you for sharing your friend's struggle and for your perspective and insight.

BlondeAmbition said...

This is one of the best summaries I've read to date (you are all brilliant writers on these blogs -- hats off to you!) Very sorry to hear of your friend. XO