Is it that time of year again? Pinktober: pink ribbons, pink coffee cup lids, pink T-shirts, football players wearing pink socks. Everywhere pink; breast cancer awareness month.
Cashing In on Pink
For those of us who have lived through it there are many responses. Some see the pinkification of Cancer as a call to arms to get women to do early detection screening, to get companies in on the game of giving money to research or simply to bringing awareness to a disease that will affect one in eight women. I have to admit; I want to feel better about “pink”. Part of me envies the women who embrace the “pink”. October would be a more pleasant month if I could just be comfortable looking through rose-colored glasses!
If you Google breast cancer awareness month what comes up are all kinds of things pink to buy, which feels like just another way to cash in on the suffering of women. I mean really. Pink party favors, key chains and porta potties? Seriously? The list goes on.
And why pink? Yes, of course we know that pink is the color associated with the feminine but it just seems so condescending. After all, don’t men get breast cancer too?
What About After Treatment?
For me, at best, it is frustrating and at worst infuriating. Why isn’t there a month devoted to exploring ways to heal our lives, our bodies and our spirits AFTER cancer? Why not take all of this energy and focus it on reclaiming what we lost after the wreckage of treatment? You get the NED (no evidence of disease) from your doctor and your friends have all gone home; everyone expects things to go back to normal because after all, you are “cured”. This is when we need some AWARENESS!
The Truth of Experience
There are so many issues that are more pertinent to survivors than whether a man wears a bracelet that says, “tough men wear pink”. What tools are there to help women who are trying to learn to love themselves with one less breast or no breasts? How can we help women to come to terms with the trauma they have just been through? Losing body parts that are essentially our society’s definition of femininity. “Save the tatas”, “don’t steal second base”, these are just a few whimsical sayings that clearly do NOT represent the reality of breast cancer awareness. The truth of what survivors are experiencing may include; a depression that follows the ravages of chemotherapy, the burns that follow radiation, the joint pain and weakness from the post cancer medications prescribed and the anxiety that accompanies the constant fear of reoccurrence?
A Better Awareness Campaign
What about a month where everyday there is an emphasis on a way to foster healing and wellbeing awareness? Awareness on how to reclaim our lives. Awareness on how to move forward from this experience and be BETTER than we were. Awareness on how to live a life true to our authentic self, to live a life where we truly know what matters.
What about promoting all of the ways we can be healthy and more importantly, stay healthy? There are so many conversations to be had on how to live a healthier life emotionally, physically and spiritually. I am sure there would be something meaningful to explore for the 31 days of October.
It is so easy to cheerlead and believe that if you wear a pink ribbon or give to the cancer society that somehow breast cancer is magically going to disappear. I say we create our own breast cancer awareness month and determine what is best for us as survivors and thrivers, and advocate for a future where breast cancer does not exist.
Dr. Keri Chiappino
Original article written at http://theunderbelly.org/2016/10/pinktober-again/