October ushers in the arrival of pumpkin spiced everything, the brilliant changing colors of the leaves, shorter days and cooler nights, and the anticipation of Halloween. It also heralds the return of the pink washing of pretty much anything and everything that can be sold and marketed to the masses to raise the awareness of breast cancer. Everywhere we turn, there are pink ribbons adorning a variety of products enticing and asking, sometimes even badgering, us to spend money on the pink product to raise awareness and find a cure for breast cancer. It’s innocent enough and altruistic, right? Who wouldn’t want to embrace this cause?!
I am the poster child for early detection, as my own breast cancer was diagnosed after my annual mammogram detected a suspicious spot in my left breast. This suspicious spot was actually a malignant tumor lurking undercover, as it could not be detected by a self-exam, and once it was found, I couldn’t wait for it to get lost. I did everything possible to evict this unwelcome visitor, and so far, it looks like I succeeded. So, one would think that I would wrap myself in pink from head to toe and wave the pink ribbon. I haven’t, though. I can’t.
Maybe, it is because I am firmly in the anger stage of grief, following my sweet friend’s four year battle with metastatic breast cancer a few months ago. Maybe, it’s because after being unwillingly inducted into this club nearly a year ago, I am dealing with the fear that I am going to have a reoccurrence and residual survivor’s guilt. Maybe, it’s because that after millions of dollars have been raised that there is no cure for metastatic breast cancer. None.
Raising awareness has done wonders in reminding us of the important practices of monthly self-exams and annual mammograms, and these practices have saved lives indeed, mine included. I appreciate and support those strides in the fight against breast cancer. I really do, but I fear that we have been lulled into this false sense of security and lined the coffers of some organizations and businesses, instead of staying true to the mission of fighting breast cancer.
I love stories that end with everyone living happily ever after, and there are plenty of such stories among those of us diagnosed with breast cancer. That said, there are countless other stories of that go untold, as theirs is a vast contrast to the ones that some of the pink pushers peddle for our consumption. These are the stories of those who battle metastatic cancer from the moment of their diagnosis until the day that their story ends.
Awareness and early detection have been center stage in the spotlight, and now, it is time to shine the light on the darker side of breast cancer. There needs to be much more awareness and funding given to metastatic breast cancer, so, that every person diagnosed with breast cancer can bask in the afterglow of survival. What’s the point of increasing awareness, if we have no cure effective treatment to eradicate the detected disease? Yes, I understand that the sooner treatment begins, the better, but until we all have the same fighting chance at survival, it’s a hollow victory.
I hope that Scan, Treat, Repeat is replaced with Scan, Treat, Done; Happy End to the Story soon. Very soon. That is what would leave me tickled pink!
That’s another story . . .
Categories: That's Another Story