Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Breast Cancer "Awareness"=A Broken Record

If I see one more pink appliance or punny t-shirt slogan for Breast Cancer "Awareness" I'm going to scream. Let's be honest here...Breast Cancer "Awareness" (BCA) as it pertains to "Saving the Ta-Tas" or similar titillating (yep, I'm not above a punny), pink ribbons (and anything marketable in varying shades of pink), and cries to Walk/Run/Donate for the Cure are a broken record. Meaning nothing new or interesting is actually being done in the name of Breast Cancer Awareness. Unless you've been hiding under a rock for the past 10+ years, you're aware that women have breasts and those breasts sometimes get try to kill them. Women are ordered to do self-checks, get mammograms, and basically practice pro-active self awareness as their breast health is concerned. The thing is that most breast cancers these days are very survivable. Part of that may be the inundation of "awareness" making women more pro-active in their breast health, but it is mostly that technology and medicine finally reaching a point to fight the beast that is cancer on a whole scale level.

In these days of "Me Too", it seems like we should be less focused on breasts and more focused on the whole person. Its apparently not as fun to support awareness for the other types of cancer--Childhood, Lung, Ovarian, Testicular, Melanoma, etc. However, many of these cancers have a much higher mortality rate than breast cancer ever did. These other forms of cancer don't provide the puns or evoke the images that sell t-shirts.

Of course, the whole "awareness" machine, in my not-so-humble opinion, doesn't really play into the rate of survival--instead it is primarily a financial boon for those in the 'industry' of providing that "awareness". For instance, when I first clicked a link to an article by the American Cancer Society titled "Breast Cancer: Info and Support" the page that loaded was wholly about gaining donations. There was no information, no support, just requests for money from ACS. By the time this posts, that link may very well open the page with actual information and support, but it may not. In my years as a survivor, I have found that so many organizations have their hands out to support Breast Cancer "Awareness" that it is impossible for them to all actually *do* anything to offer real support for breast cancer victims or even real research into breast cancer. Other breast cancer survivors have put together lists of things you can actually *do* to support those with breast cancer and to ensure that any funds you donate actually go to research and care.

As a breast cancer survivor of just over 9 years, I can tell you the support I received from the big name "Awareness" and even self-titled research organizations was zero. The support I received came from individuals stepping away from pink merchandise and giving me a hand--whether in funds, prayer, or physical help. Sure, some funding trickles into some out-of-sight research laboratory, but the majority of the funding for most of these organizations gets funneled through so many channels that the actual researcher needing funds to continue their research goes unaided and promising research may be abandoned due to lack of attention-grabbing headlines generating funding.

I've done bio-medical research. It isn't the glamour you see of pristine laboratories with multi-million dollar instruments on perfect workbenches while coiffed and made-up scientists walk about carrying clipboards right before shrieking "Eureka". Actual research is done in tiny steps in out-of-sight laboratories that often have outdated and sometimes cobbled-together equipment by frazzled and harried scientists that often go for extended periods without rest, food, or even verifiable results. There are just as many, if not more, failed experiments and research avenues that must be pursued. These hard-working scientists are the ones left out of the spotlight when Merck, Pfizer, or some other big-name produces a drug to treat cancer. These scientists have often left blood, sweat, and tears in their laboratories hoping, one day, to provide a small answer to the question of cancer. Often these scientists are even vilified by the public as 'hiding' cancer cures, being too obsessed with money to ever really cure cancer. The majority of scientists in the bio-medical field are truly in it to help people, even if it is just isolating and characterization of the bacteriophages found in raw sewage. <---that 13="" 2="" a="" after="" and="" attacked="" b="" bacteria="" bacterial="" bacteriaphages="" bacteriophages="" cause="" characterizing="" common="" definitely="" destroy="" did="" endocarditis.="" file="" found="" from="" get="" howard="" hughes="" i="" in="" institute="" into="" its="" let="" likely="" me="" medical="" most="" my="" nbsp="" not="" of="" project="" question="" raw="" report.="" research.="" research="" rich="" s="" scholar="" sewage.="" shortly="" summary="" tell="" that="" the="" turned="" undergraduate="" viruses="" was--isolating="" way="" what="" years="" you="">That
is the way research goes sometimes...
There are great research organizations out there and there are aspects of the leaders of the "Awareness" campaigns that are fruitful, but the sad fact is that Breast Cancer has been highjacked as a money-making sob-story to fill the coffers of both fly-by-night and legitimate support organizations. Simply by advertizing breasts as being in danger, these organizations are capitalizing on the age-old adage that "sex sells". Please don't buy it! 

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My Chemo-Jane hair-style

My Chemo-Jane hair-style
I just had to have my mom buzz my hair because it was falling out so badly.

Pre-op wearing my hand-crocheted cap with my prayer shawl.

Pre-op wearing my hand-crocheted cap with my prayer shawl.
My loving husband is watching me distract myself with a game on his iPhone.

2 days after my BMX w/ 100ccs in the TEs

2 days after my BMX w/ 100ccs in the TEs
I even have a fashionable belt to hold up my drains.

3 weeks post-op w/ 400ccs in each TE

3 weeks post-op w/ 400ccs in each TE
The smile is fake because the TEs were irritating!