Why I Hate Pink Ribbons (Updated)

Formally known as “Why I Hate Breast Cancer Awareness Month” published 10/10

Alternate Title: It’s not about the boobs.

That’s right, I said it, I hate Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Before you all start throwing pink ribbons at me, let me explain. I’ve had breast cancer on my radar since I was a kid. My Mom lost her mother to it at a young age, my great aunt had it twice, and my Mom has had it twice, the second time resulting in a single mastectomy. Breast Cancer matters a lot to me, I live my life with this little voice in the back of my head saying “you could be next”. A couple of months ago at thirty years old I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I speak to you as a granddaughter who never got to know her grandmother, a great niece who lost her great aunt too soon, a daughter who has been afraid twice, and now a member of the club that no one wants to join struggling to fight against this disease. That’s my breast cancer resume. Oh, and I work in advertising.

Why do I hate a month devoted to this disease that’s effected my family so much? Because it “prettyfies” it. Breast cancer is not sexy, pretty, nice, funny, or cute. Breast Cancer is an ugly disease that is actually pretty scary. The women that have breast cancer are amazing, sexy, beautiful, inspiring people (guys, I’m not forgetting about you in this, but I just haven’t known any men to suffer from this and don’t want to make assumptions on how you go through this, I’m writing from what I know). When was the last time Breast Cancer awareness put an amazon on their site or ad (a woman with a single mastectomy)? Now that I’ve personally had breast cancer I can also tell you that it is not about the boobies, tatas, lumps, jugs, titties, tits, breasts, knockers, fun bags, hooters, honkers, racks, melons, bazoongas, etc. It’s about cancer. When was the last time someone with liver cancer had to see something as derogatory as “save the boobies” (or any other word listed above). Give me a fucking break. Yes the cancer is found in breasts and yes we all like breasts, men and women alike, however that doesn’t mean that our cancer needs to have a pretty pink color and cute language around it. It’s cancer and it kills people. I got a single mastectomy and am currently going through chemo and once I get through all this hell I still have a 19% chance of dying from this in the next 15 years, how cute is that?

photo (2)

My abdomen and new belly button from my tram flap reconstruction. Pretty cute right?

Breast Cancer Awareness Month is also one big cash in. It belittles what people actually go through (lymphodema from radiation treatments is not cute) and helps corporations make lots of dough. Most things you buy with the wretched pink ribbon on it are not going towards breast cancer. The company makes a donation and then is able to put that ribbon on their products, making more money than they donated. Instead of telling you they donated money and letting that give them a good image to the public, they see it as a chance to cash in. I was actually asked to work on one of these projects during my career and got out of it once I expressed my views thankfully. Think before you pink.

The latest thing to piss me off is this Facebook status that has been going around for the last year:

All of us have thousand wishes. To be thinner, to be bigger, have more money, have a cool car, a day off, a new phone, to date the person of your dreams. A cancer patient only has one wish, to kick cancer’s ass. I know that 97% of you won’t post this as your status, but my friends will be the 3% that do. In honor of someone who died, or is fighting cancer, or even had cancer, post this for at least one hour.

I hated this status even before I got cancer and really hate it now. Here are some things that I have wished for since I’ve had cancer: to not have cancer (seriously, why would I wish to kick it’s ass when I could wish for it never to have happened), to be able to sleep, to not feel nauseous, for ice cream, for sushi (not allowed to eat this during chemo), that my friends were closer, that I was working, that A. didn’t have to get dragged down in this, that this wasn’t so hard, that I looked like a super model, that my boob didn’t have a dent in it, that I didn’t still get pimples at 30 (does this ever end?), that my cat would shut up, that I had a puppy, etc etc etc. Just because I have cancer does not limit me to have one wish. I am still a human being with multiple dimensions and hopes and dreams. And also using the fact that I or any one else has cancer to try and make yourself look like a good person through passive aggressively targeting your friends to copy your Facebook post and pat you on the back for posting it is disgusting. We have enough problems. If you want to passive aggressively guilt your friends about people with cancer donate some money to a worthwhile cancer charity and post about it (like the ice bucket challenge did) and encourage other people to donate.

We also need to shift gears. People know what Breast Cancer is, it’s been marketed to death. Breast Cancer Awareness month should be about how to donate to make a difference, what products are proven to raise your risk, and what laws/regulations we can ask our government to enact to help protect us and make care available for all who need it. Going through this I recommend petitioning your local representative to make fertility preservation covered by insurance for cancer patients. It’s very expensive and not something people can plan for with cancer treatment’s costs and unexpectedness. Fun fact, but they didn’t used to cover reconstruction either until people lobbied for this so this is the type of thing you can make a difference in.

So that’s my yearly rant. I would like to follow it up by saying that I know for some people there is a very personal relationship with pink ribbons, boobies, etc. Everyone heals in their own way from this awful disease and I don’t mean to pass judgement on how people personally move on, these are my own frustrations as someone going through breast cancer right now and someone who has had so many close family members take it on.

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