Every October, along with reds, oranges and yellows we associate with autumn, we see a lot of pink for Breast Cancer Awareness month.
You may notice that for the month of October, I decided to add a pink ribbon to the masthead of this blog. You probably know by now that October stands as Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Some people become bent out of shape anytime they see those pink ribbons. They immediately assume each touch of pink constitutes “pinkwashing,” a marketing tactic businesses use to “cash in” on the movement. I get it.
We see businesses accused of “rainbow washing” during pride month. In fact, during Pride Month in June, I wrote about “rainbow washing.” I wondered how much a company must do before consumers consider them sincere. There are no answers there, of course. If you assume ill will right off the back, your closed-mindedness probably won’t allow you to accept evidence of good will after the fact.
I happen to believe that when you’re talking about an important cause, awareness is awareness.
I don’t think you have to be female to talk about breast cancer. (Men actually can develop breast cancer, although it’s certainly far less common in men.) I also don’t think there’s a specific dollar amount or a specific number of payroll hours a company must devote to breast cancer donations before they deserve exoneration from pinkwashing charges.
As I said 11 years ago, if the additional flashes of pink get more people to think about breast cancer, that’s a good thing.
Frankly, if just one person sees one more pink ribbon, actually makes the call to schedule a mammogram, and doctors detect a problem early enough that they can deal with it and save her life, I consider that a tremendous victory. Even if one life gets saved, that’s good news.
Bloggers, this is a great time to talk about breast cancer awareness month. Your post might make a difference as I hope this one will.
Some of us have a personal connection to it.
I know of at least four women I’m close to — as friends, colleagues or coworkers (and a combination thereof) — who received a breast cancer diagnosis over the past few years.
One of them, C., learned hers was Stage 0, the best-case scenario. Stage 0 means the cancerous cells had not spread beyond the initial point. It tends to be the most easily treatable. It also leads, for obvious reasons, to the best prognosis.
Another, A., has been a friend since college, although it somehow seems I’ve known her longer than that. For a couple of years right after graduation, we worked together in TV. Her passion, however, was always radio. I was not successful in converting her to the TV business, but she continues to do very well in a top market in radio. Her cancer diagnosis was more complicated. She went through rigorous chemotherapy. She remains, at last check-in, a cancer survivor.
Two colleagues, J. and M., received diagnoses. One was more fortunate; though hers had spread, doctors were able to successfully treat it. The other is still fighting after quite a bit of chemotherapy. Her cancer, likewise, spread to other parts of her body. But she continues to amaze us all because she’s still working.
Then there was Lynne.
I knew her for more than 25 years. She was diagnosed with breast cancer back in about 2018. She went through surgery and chemo and fought fiercely Initially, things looked good. A couple of years later, during a follow-up, she made an innocent mention of a pain in her hip. The oncologist, thankfully, paid attention. It was probably nothing, he said, but he ordered a scan.
The scan indicated the cancer had returned and spread dramatically. She tried a new chemo that was genetically engineered to fight this specific type of cancer. But the results weren’t as positive as doctors hoped. So they switched her to another new, but also promising treatment. This seemed to work quite well. Months after that initial scan revealed cancer throughout her body, a new scan showed it had almost completely disappeared.
One of the things I remember quote well was the day her husband, one of oldest friends, told me the news on the phone.
I made a comment about Lynne “kicking cancer’s ass.” He was quick to tell me. “Don’t let her hear you say that.”
Lynne was the pragmatist. the realist. She wasn’t about to claim victory. She knew, based on her diagnosis, that it was the cancer that would eventually prevail.
Some of us weren’t interested in hearing that particular message, no matter how right we knew she was.
But while optimistic, Lynne knew how things were going to go.
For people diagnosed with cancer, there is a time frame at which they are “officially” considered “cancer free.” Doctors say that for some types of cancer, it can be five years. For others, it might be seven.
We looked forward to the day — whatever that time frame might be — when we’d be able to tell her, “We told you so.”
Lynne passed away back in December and in some ways, I don’t think I’ve fully processed it, even now.
So I mark Breast Cancer Awareness month.
I’ve felt enough personal impact that I think I have the right to do so. If you disagree, I’ll kindly ask you to keep your opinion to yourself.
A breast cancer diagnosis does not mean a death sentence. I’m no math major, but I’ve talked about five people I know who received that diagnosis. Only one of them lost that battle. As far as I can tell, that’s, as we speak, an 80% success rate.
If you have to face cancer, an 80% success rate sounds pretty good.
As a blogger, I wanted to talk about this subject. It isn’t the first time I have talked about Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It won’t be the last.
I don’t have a million bucks to donate to breast cancer research. I work in a job that doesn’t really give me a great deal of time to organize a community-wide breast cancer walk.
But I’m a blogger who has maintained this platform in its tiny corner of the blogosphere for more than 17 years. I have some readers. Not a lot, necessarily, but I have some readers.
Maybe even one of them will read this, be moved enough to make that appointment and have their own success story to tell their grandchildren.
If it happens, I won’t know it. I wouldn’t want credit for that.
But if we don’t remind people about these things, we’re not doing our part to fight cancer. Everyone, no matter his or her means, can do something. Bloggers, maybe now’s the time you take on the topic.
At the very least, they can take the opportunity during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, to learn more about it. Maybe they can talk to their doctor. Maybe they can even get checked out and make sure they’re OK.
That’s worth a blog post or two on the subject, isn’t it?