It's October! The month of scary witches, ghosts & zombies! The month of terror! The month of Black! And Orange! And . . . Pink!! THE MONTH TO CELEBRATE BREAST CANCER!!!
At least that's what it sometimes feels like. Unless you are wearing pink jeans, pink cardigan, pink keds, pink Victoria Secret unmentionables, with a matching pink ribbon necklace/earrings/pin set, carrying a special-edition pink ribbon purse, pink ribbon brief case and pink ribbon lunchbox, driving your car with pink ribbon floor mats and a pink ribbon dangling from your rear-view mirror - you are doin' it WRONG. Because, at least according to Facebook and most of the interwebs, PINK CURES BREAST CANCER!! Hallelujah! Who needs science?! We can be cured by drinking from a PINK RIBBON WATER BOTTLE!
What a bunch of bullshit. (And I should warn you right now, I feel passionately about this. And when I'm passionate about something I tend to swear. A lot.) We have become a culture so obsessed with the "Pink for a cure!" mentality, we completely ignore the single most effective thing we can do to prevent breast cancer deaths: Scheduling our mammogram. We think that buying a limited-edition pink ribbon t-shirt "helps" prevent/cure breast cancer. When we "walk for the cure" or purchase a pink-ribbon cell phone case we are contributing to "finding a cure" and we absolve ourselves of needing to be involved at a real level. This makes me so frustrated - because ACTIVELY preventing/detecting/diagnosing/treating breast cancer is so FREAKING EASY. Just schedule a damn mammogram.
A friend of mine was diagnosed with breast cancer several weeks ago. Today, she had a lumpectomy with lymph node removal. A year ago, she had a mammogram that was completely clear. Several weeks ago, she had a mammogram that showed cancer. Stage 1, no visible lymph node involvement. Pretty much, the best diagnosis you can get if you have to get a diagnosis at all. Now let me explain, I don't think I have ever seen her wear pink. EVER. A pink ribbon didn't cure her cancer. It didn't even find her cancer. Her cancer was found because SHE took control of her own breast health. SHE scheduled regular mammograms. A fucking pink ribbon played no part.
If you are reading this blog, please - PLEASE - schedule your mammogram. And don't be shy - ask the women in your life when they get their mammograms. Badger them until they get one. Keep track of when you have them and when your next one should be. Mine is in December, just before my birthday. Happy Birthday to ME!
And don't forget about the often-neglected-but-still-really-important self breast exam. Think of it as an excuse to feel yourself up. And guys - don't forget that you are also at risk for breast cancer. So don't ignore breast swelling, tenderness, lumps or pain.
If you want to wear a pink ribbon, well, have a party. But that pink ribbon will never be anything but a pink ribbon. If you want to have an impact on breast cancer, take control of your own breast health. One boob at a time, we can have a real impact on the lives of women, men, and families who must cope with breast cancer.