Like Words Together Reflections from the deep end of Practice.


The Nay-Sayers

I didn't intend to write a strong statement about National Breast Cancer Awareness month and then say nothing else. I've actually had all kinds of ideas kicking around my mind to write about this past month, but I've been sick and have had some job interviews. Then there are the home improvement plans that are underway (new furnace, advanced weatherization). These plans require that we pack up and store most of the furniture and stuff on the first floor. I also got my new food blog as well as the total revamp of this blog up with CK's considerable help.

So it has been busy since I posted about breast cancer. I realize that I rather glad it worked out this way. My statement against the national pinkwashing that breast cancer awareness has become stood there for the whole of the month of October. It has been an interesting experience putting myself out there with that post.

I've been absolutely stunned at the overwhelmingly positive response my post has received. In addition to comments on the blog itself, I have received compliments on Facebook, Twitter and during a phone call with a technology recruiting agency. I have received a lot of appreciation for making so firm and courageous statement. I've been thanked for saying something many people have felt, but have been afraid to express for fear of negative push back.

That brings me right to "The Nay-Sayers", those people who did not agree with my viewpoint. There have been a handful of these people and I want to acknowledge that a small minority disagreed with me. You can see the comments attached to my post, some were made on Facebook.

Some merely commented that they thought the bit of fun from a Facebook meme used to remind people that breast cancer is still out there, still scary was totally wanted. Humor helps us to find strength in the face of fear. Humor helps many patients, my Mom included, get through the ugliness of breast cancer. Fair enough.

Another person said that so long as pink ribbons on ridiculous products saved one woman's breast than it is worth it. Honestly, I don't have a lot to say about that other than to point at the message some of those pink products are sending and more importantly, look at where the money goes.

Then there's the more strident detractors. To date there's been three people who've posted rather seriously negative stuff to the blog. I moderate and approve all comments and when the first of these came in, I'd hoped to respond directly to the sender but found that her comment resolved to a blocked Blogger account. Each of the more seriously negative comments have had this kind of anonymous post; a first name but no real way to connect to the person (essentially anonymous).

I have devoted a fair amount of time considering how to respond to them (if at all) and wondering if I should even post these comments at all. One of the negative comments came complete with what I feel is a rather mean-spirited comment about the person who had posted a link to my blog on her Facebook page (I've removed this bit from her comment). All of these comments have lead me to consider how I want to handle them going forth. In fact, you'll notice on the new blog an email address is required to post comments. I've also published a disclaimer and my policy regarding comments.

Ultimately I decided to post these three comments I've been holding. You can go wade through all the comments to find them if you want. I've also decided that although I did publish them, I'm not responding directly to these comments.

What I will say is that I'm all for reminding people to take care of themselves. I'm all for supporting our loved ones who survived, like my Mother (emphasis as a reminder to those people who somehow missed that I'm the daughter of a two-time breast cancer survivor). I'm equally for remembering all of those people who have not survived (including several of my friends' mothers). I'm emphatically for publicizing this disease and taking away any stigma associated with anyone who is struggling with cancer of any kind. Or frankly any kind of stigma associated with fighting any grave illness.

I'm really not that bothered by anyone being "proudly pink", as one person said. Whatever. Just don't expect me to go out and buy myself a case of bottled water (or anything else for that matter) with pink ribbons on it to support "awareness".

I think we have spent a hell of a lot of money on "awareness" while the efforts to understand WHY have been underfunded, at worst, and uncoordinated, at best. Yes, there is a whole lot of funding that goes to treatment, curing breast cancer, and that's great. I'm all for finding better treatments that don't disfigure and poison patients.

That said, funding more "awareness" avoids my question: Why is breast cancer still so common after all this awareness has been raised?

Buying "awareness" does not bring us any closer to understanding why. I'd like to see the same level of energy dedicated to "awareness" directed toward understanding and eradicating the causes.

I'd like answers, not more "awareness".

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