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.”


  1. AMEN sister!! Thank you for your rant!! You articulated what we go through very well. When the movie comes out, I'd love to join you.
    We didn't get to know each other at Bayside Auburn, Bob and I had moved on before you and I were diagnosed. My journey started in Jan 2011, if I recall you were shortly after?
    If you ever want to talk or get together message me on fb and we'll exchange info.
    God Bless you! Kim Matthews

    1. Hi Kim,
      We were released from Bayside Auburn in Feb 2011. I was diagnosed in August. Thank you for reading my post and for your kind words. Looks like we have a number of similar friends on FB... all great ladies!
      Keep on keeping on!

  2. LOVE your blog, can't wait to read all of it. My blog started out as then turned into a journey of my cancer. Your words resonate with mine...the dumbing down of our feelings by "pink." I am looking forward to spending the next part of my journey (chemo) reading all of your posts. I think honesty is the only true path to awareness. ~Renae~

    1. Hi Renae,
      Nice to meet you and thank you for your kind words. I wish you the best on your journey. The days are soooo hard, but trust that the end will come and you will be living and vibrant again. I am just 1 week out from my last treatment and I feel free and whole. On some of the worst days I just wanted to cry life away. I had a friend that kept annoyingly singing "The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow" and you know what... she was right. You can do this!!! It's the fight of your life... and you can do it. One day at a time. One treatment at a time. One minute at a time. Take each day, hour, minute at a time... you can do this.

  3. I wanted to share this article with you:

    I think this artist captures the real "breasts" of breast cancer, and I think they are beautiful.

  4. Kelly….seriously your post should go to the Susan B Komen Foundation. I was horrified when Kylie came home with a bracelet the other day that said "save the boobies". It now resides in a landfill somewhere. Thank you for putting the true face of cancer on your blog, and teaching those of us that experience it through your own pain. Thank you for being vulnerable and honest.

    1. Did you make her read this post? I appreciate the monies raised by these groups that actually go to something good.... but come on!

  5. Agreed. I think you just nailed it for what a lot of women think. There should be real faces with real cancer stories behind these campaigns. You said it.

    Hey, I don't know if you're open to this, but I've started going to a Hollistsic Dentist just because of all the damage the metal in our mouths can cause to our bodies. One of the articles I read talks about how scientists are finding that root canals might be a cause to breast cancer. You can read it if you like.
    I have 3 root canals I need to get removed.

    Anyways, sending prayers your way from the Marta family.