As Breast Cancer Awareness month comes to a close, I breathe a sigh of relief...
I am a breast cancer survivor, the scary triple-negative kind of breast cancer. But since the beginning of my cancer journey, I have always been put-off by the "Breast Cancer Awareness" campaigns.
When I first heard Susan Komen ads on the radio after my diagnosis, I couldn't help but notice that the entire content was about fear. I didn't want fear, I wanted hope for my survival. And when I looked into it, and saw how their funds are used, it became clear that they weren't "for the cure" they most definitely had an agenda - an agenda that was not aligned with my plan for survival.
But that aside, as a survivor, you would think I would want to encourage at least the message of "awareness" that is promoted each October. Maybe that would save lives if women knew to do self-exams, and made it in for their regular screenings.
So. Why does an Awareness campaign bother me so much?
Partly, this must be due to the fact that I have been aware of breast cancer since my teen years. I'm not sure how I heard about it, but there's a general awareness that cancer exists, and the most common forms - there is even an awareness that there are rare forms of cancer. I have always done breast self-exams fairly regularly. If my doctor had recommended a mammogram, I would have done it - but I was at LOW RISK for breast cancer. I was young and healthy... I was not at the age for routine mammograms yet.
So, all of the awareness that I DID have, did nothing to prevent my breast cancer. There is nothing in the pink ribbons scattered all over every sugary product at the grocery store that would have made me do anything differently, nor would it have made my lump less aggressive when they found it.
Awareness did not prevent my breast cancer. It didn't even help me catch it early. It didn't offer me better treatment options.
Awareness is just a foot in the door for promoting an agenda for profits. Susan Komen is connected with drug companies - so their idea of a cure, is to encourage people to find cancers that need drugs - maybe detect them early, cancers that may not even need chemotherapy will be treated with chemotherapy - they even fund lawsuits to encourage treatment of late-stage cancers that don't respond well to treatment. And their alignment with KFC - foods that may cause cancer - boggles the mind!!
Komen for the Cure?
And that's not all. Recently, Susan Komen seems to think they have a trademark on the use of the word "Cure". Like it's NOT okay for anyone else to care about curing cancer? Really? Do they really NOT care about the real cancer patients who want to survive, cancer patients aren't allowed to think any other organization is seeking a cure - they have to use some other word when they are seeking to survive their cancer?? Absurd.
The more you read, the more you look at who is profiting - the more offensive it is: they take MY breast cancer, and use it to make other people feel sorry for me, so money is given to THEM!!! That feels like abuse to me. The "Awareness" campaign leaves me feeling manipulated and used.
Most people are aware that cancer exists. A large percentage of the population will get cancer regardless of this awareness. Maybe we should try something different.
Let's make a campaign about CANCER PREVENTION!!! Not just breast cancer - ALL CANCER!!!
That would be a campaign that I would like to see.
That would be a campaign that would fill me with hope, not fear and/or disgust.
It could promote all sorts of healthy eating and lifestyle changes - beautiful green signs in the produce section of the store, instead of pink ribbons on sugary cereal boxes.
And above all else - it is a campaign that could have real results - less people dying of cancer. That IS our goal isn't it? I hope so.