Monday, March 28, 2011

Why It Matters

I didn't see this post coming.  My blog is usually about little moments in the everyday life of a mom juggling a family and breast cancer.  I sometimes veer off course and urge people to check out the Love/Avon Army of Women and their efforts to find the causes of breast cancer in order to learn how to truly prevent it...someday.  It's a small thing we can all do to help with a greater good.  The end of breast cancer, coming about through research.  Imagine that.

I sometimes spout my respect and gratitude for a small organization, Support Connection, whose only mission is to support women with breast or ovarian cancer and their families and caregivers.  That's it.  That's all they care about. Helping those that need it in the most efficient, caring, direct ways possible.  I personally found their services invaluable and keep in contact with them to this day.  It is my wish all cancer patients find that kind of support.  I'm not sure healing can take place without it.

Those are the things that normally make up my blog, but recently exchanges taking place on facebook along with some thought-provoking blog posts have raised questions about some breast cancer fundraisers, their tactics and goals.  Are these companies being responsible with the money being raised? Where are the dollars going exactly?  Which methods are utilized to raise these funds?  And does it matter?

All good questions and ones I didn't give a lot of thought to...before.  It was too easy to see the pink ribbon everywhere, hear of all the money being raised and assume it was going toward a cure for breast cancer.  After all, that's the line we're being fed over and over again, working toward a cure.  It never occurred to me to question whether the products being sold can actually contribute to the causes of breast cancer.  Why would I think that when the package looks so pretty in pink?  As long as money was being raised "for the cure," all was good, right?

Turns out, as most things, it's not that simple.  Some organizations use their donations to only raise awareness of breast cancer, to educate about early detection.  While worthy, those things won't find a cure. Only research can do that and it must be highly funded in order to advance.

As the beneficiary of early detection, I agree the word about breast cancer should be out there.  Women do need to be aware of the symptoms.  They do need to get mammograms and ultrasounds.  But don't, for a single second believe early detection means cured.

It does not.

It is exactly what it claims to be...breast cancer discovered at an early stage. Does that mean women are spared the chance of recurrence?  No.  Or their cancer will never advance to Stages 3 or 4?  Nope.  So, it's clear to me that donation dollars would be better spent elsewhere, knocking on the research door.

That's one thing, another is the method invoked by some organizations in the good name of breast cancer or in this case, "boobie" cancer.

I wasn't going to write about this.  I was going to live and let live.  There are better bloggers than I that write about this eloquently, responsibly and in depth, but then I thought of my mother, my aunt and my sister-in-law's mom and how they would view this emerging "lighter side of breast cancer."

Would they think it's funny to see organizations dumb down the gravity of their disease in the name of awareness?  Would they think it was fun to have young men and women giggle while tossing the word "boobies" around for the cause?  Would they approve of an organization turning a blind eye to the ugly realities of breast cancer because it's not "cool" enough?

Probably not.  If they were alive I'd ask them.  There wasn't anything funny about what they endured.  There is nothing fun about watching the disintegration of someone you love.

Cancer is personal and sometimes that fact gets overlooked by the fundraising machine.  Focus is lost.  Cancer is seen as a giant entity, a force to be reckoned with.  Which it is, but only because of the people it touches, the lives it destroys.  We can't ever lose sight of that.

Cancer can only be taken down with further research and it needs to be treated with respect. As do the people living with it everyday and those that died because of it.  We all deserve better than giggles and rubber bracelets with sophmoric, sexualized, catch phrases and I can't support any breast cancer fundraiser that forgets that.



To read the facts and opinions of the bloggers I refer to, visit Uneasy PinkThe Cancer Culture Chronicles and Nancy's Point.



9 comments:

  1. Stacey - so well said, and I'm so glad that you've chimed in on this important discussion. Your voice matters so much in all of this, and particularly so given your own experience and tragic losses of your beloved family members to this breast cancer plague. The point of all of this discussion is to encourage people to really think about whether the campaign they are supporting is really moving the fight forward. Part of that fight is making sure that women receive diagnosis, treatment and support when they need it, and indeed relevant (and scientifically factual) education BUT as you point out, research is the only cause that is going to move us forward to eradication and ultimately real prevention. This must be the priority, and yet it is not. These dumbed down "awareness" and "educational" campaigns that seem to have become so ubiquitous have put the "fun" in breast cancer without any real regard for how that impacts the wider perceptions of this disease nor the people that have actually gone through it, nor even whether the information that is being put out to the community is in fact supported by current research. And that's damaging in so many ways. Thank you for putting your views out there. Every voice matters at this point and the questioning must continue until this disease is in the rear-viiew mirror.

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  2. Stacey,
    Thank you for deciding to write about this too, Stacey. I think everyone's voice matters and you stated the message so well here through your phrase, "cancer can only be taken down through further research." Bravo! Well said! And thanks for mentioning Nancy's Point.

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  3. So true Stacey! I plan to speak my mind about this topic soon too. Thanks for sharing xo

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  4. This is great, but like I said on Nancy's Point, I'm so conflicted.... I agree, but I do see the other side as well.... Urg, I hate being on the fence!
    Great post S!

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  5. You said it: "Cancer can only be taken down with further research and it needs to be treated with respect. As do the people living with it everyday and those that died because of it. We all deserve better than giggles and rubber bracelets with sophmoric, sexualized, catch phrases." Thank you Stacie.

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  6. Anna, I've come around to your way of thinking and you're right. Every voice does matter and it wasn't until I thought of those that no longer have a voice that I knew I needed to add my two-cents. Thanks, as always. BTW, so glad you're home!

    Thanks, Nancy. I'm happy to add my opinion to yours and others that state the facts so well. I know I'll never be able to look at a fundraising organization again without a slew of questions.

    Hi Sami, I'm glad you're speaking up too! We can never have too many voices.

    Thanks, Mark!

    Hi Lisa, I was on the fence for a while, but once I started to think about the women I've lost to breast cancer, I fell off the fence. I just feel their memory is being insulted and once I felt that, it was easy to see how inappropriate the tactics used by FYB really are. There are better ways to get the message across. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this.

    Gayle, thank you for reading and commenting. I so appreciate it and I've been following your take on this, as well.

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  7. Love the line - 'treat it with respect." That I do and we will.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, and introducing me to Support Connection as well.
    jms

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  8. Stacey - I really like the way you are so clear here - Early detection does not equal cured. No. It does not. Thank you for that.
    Sarah

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