Friday, February 24, 2012
Breast cancer is not pretty. It is not sweet. It is not pink.
Something has been bothering me the past 6 months.
And when I say bothering, I actually mean that it makes me, as a breast cancer victim, angry. I am disgusted by the way that breast cancer awareness campaigns have become reduced to yet another example of how “sex sells” in our culture.
Breast cancer is not pretty.
It is not sweet.
It is not pink.
It is scary.
It is lethal.
It is an interruption to life, as one knows it.
It forces you to face your mortality.
It takes you to a place of fearing the unknown.
It makes you cry in the night… and day… and night. Over and over again.
It looks like an inverted breast that no longer fits the cup of your bra.
It looks like a scar that will forever decorate the body as a reminder that anyone is fair game.
For some, it means looking down and being forced to confront a disfigured chest and see yourself as marred, missing what was once a sacred part of yourself.
And if you are a candidate for chemotherapy, breast cancer takes on more characteristics.
It looks like a port machine under your skin, a new organ, pumping poison into your veins.
It looks like blood draws and waiting to hear if your counts are okay. If your healthy enough to go another round of cancer killing.
It looks like a quiet room full of strangers, submitting to drip lines and IV’s, united by the common fear and fight that cancer has shoved in their face.
It feels like going from great to awful in a matter of minutes.
It feels like you are forever nauseous and the world is forever spinning around you.
It feels like you are going to throw up all day long, day after day.
It gives you achy bones and muscles.
It gives you dried out skin and an altered appearance to your nails.
It gives some of us the unwanted gift of menopause. Thanks but no thanks.
It makes you want to sleep all day long just to avoid time.
It makes you want to be normal and participate in the basic joys of life… like going out to eat or Christmas shopping at the mall.
It makes you want to go to a family birthday party, but you know you can’t, because those damn kids are walking germ machines, ready and willing to take you out with a single sneeze.
It messes with your mind.
It messes with your emotions.
It messes with your reasoning.
It messes with your sexuality.
It messes with your will to live. On some days making you strong and invincible, and on others ready to throw in the towel.
Loosing your hair is not pretty.
Loosing your hair is not pink.
It is humbling.
It is lonely.
It reduces you to who you are inside… the outside no longer matters.
It DOES NOT look like:
All of the above images are sexy and pretty.
And these (pictured above) are some of the LESS provocative ads out there.
Breast cancer is not sexy.
And it is definitely not pretty.
It is ugly and it is real.
Many of us victims/survivors are covered in scars both physically and emotionally that remind us of breast cancer. When the focus of awareness campaigns is sexually charged, focusing on breasts and breasts alone, the faces of the women fighting this fight are masked by perky boobs and sexually tantalizing poses. These ads and campaigns remind those of us who have scars or who have lost their breasts that they/we are no longer true whole women like before cancer took over. The campaigns make it seem like beautiful, natural breasts are all that anyone seems to care about. I find it demoralizing and hurtful. The message has become to forget about the women mothers, daughters, sisters, wives, girlfriends involved, just save the boobs! And I imagine I’m not the only warrior that feels this way either. But since sex sells and apparently boobs are more important than people are, this practice is sure to go on in advertising. And shame on them.
So there’s my rant. Done for now.
••• Here is a link to a new documentary, Pink Ribbons, Inc.: The Movie, that is coming out this spring about breast cancer and the cancer industry. I am interested to see it. When I get into another vulnerable mood I will probably write about the “pink washing” of products, and how we as consumers must “think before we pink.”