The tattered, worn pink elephant pillow is evidence of time spent in the hospital as an infant. I became attached to that ugly pink pillow, but it was a love/hate relationship from the start. It symbolized security during a time that was turbulent, in and out of the ICU with pneumonia. It later was a reminder that it was given to me as a comforter, as my parents couldn’t be at the hospital with me every minute. Pink. A substitute for something else. A false sense of comfort. I disliked pink.
I was born fighting battles.
I was born a warrior.
It’s no wonder that when two decades later, when the diagnosis of Paget’s Disease (a rare form of breast cancer) knocked on my door at the age of 26, I told the enemy he picked the wrong person to mess with. Did he not know this warrior has already defied the odds and she would do it again?
It’s October. This month, people will flock to stores and see the pink ribbon, buy the items they think will support finding a cure for this wretched disease, and don their pink apparel.
Please. Don’t do it.
I’m begging you to put down the pink-ribboned yogurt container and think if it is actually helping women either currently facing breast cancer or those of us who have come out the other side as overcomers. If you’re wondering if buying that pink beer can opener is going to bring about a cure, it won’t. It’s not helping us. It won’t bring your loved one back and it certainly is not advocating for a cure.
I may be bold in saying this, but it needs to be said.
I hate that companies who have no business in actually helping with breast cancer prevention or treatment are profiting from a disease. I’m all for funding legitimate science that will help advance the treatment of breast cancer and the success rates of specific protocols. Gene mapping and zeroing in on the behavior of the breast cancer cell and how it mutates is worthwhile to explore. Buying pink donuts will not help fund that. If you want to give, give responsibly directly to those organizations that are actually making a difference. Research to make an ethical decision.
Speaking of sugar and donuts, I hate that doctors don’t talk to their patients about nutrition during and after treatment. I hate that we don’t actually talk about prevention and lifestyle changes that can actually help curb the disease in the first place. It’s pretty common knowledge these days that sugar feeds cancer cells. Why are we still telling people to eat whatever they want as they are literally fighting for their life? It made me so angry when my friend was battling Inflammatory Breast Cancer, a very aggressive cancer, to discover her doctor didn’t talk to her at all about nutrition. In fact, he discouraged her from changing her diet at all.
Please know there are choices you can make that will support your chances of beating this disease. In fact, there are choices we can be making every day that can reduce our risks. There are many factors we can’t control. However, there are some we can. One of them is food. It’s as simple as monitoring what we put in our bodies. We are either fighting disease or feeding it. You choose.
I hate that doctors are not educating women about the risks of implants and the long term illnesses they can trigger. I recently met a fellow warrior that is fresh from the battlefield. She asked me my story. I spoke my truth. She stared in amazement, then a bit of worry and then disgust. She opted for implants. However, she said she had never heard of Breast Implant Illness. She naturally was concerned and then angry that no one had warned her of the risks.
I have “met” thousands of women in online support groups that have dealt with Breast Implant Illness. It’s real and doctors are not talking about it. It’s up to us, who have battled it, to share with our fellow sisters that it IS a possible risk factor when choosing implants. Will it happen to everyone? Of course not. But it’s a risk. Women are not given the information to make an educated decision for themselves.
Pink won’t make people more aware. Pink won’t bring my friend back who ended up dying from Inflammatory Breast Cancer years ago. Pink only pads the bottom line for these corporations.
I hate pink.
October will come and go, with it, the pinkwashing that covers stores and marketing campaigns. Don’t allow the pink to lull you into a false sense of comfort that you are making a difference in all your pink apparel. What then, should we be talking about?
Let’s talk about the big pink elephant in the room. Like that ugly pink stuffed elephant from years ago that was supposed to distract me from my reality, so is the pink splayed as far as we can see every October. The real elephant in the room is the hard stuff no one wants to talk about. Because, honestly, it makes us feel better to say we bought that pink beer can opener to support a cause. The hard part? The hard part is sitting in the mess with someone and digging out of it together. It’s not always pretty.
What will make you more aware? Listening to us. Listening to our stories and our journeys as we battle. Taking what we have to share seriously and sharing our scars, triumphs, and tears with your loved ones. Learn from our successes and trials. Let’s have the following discussions:
How do we prevent this disease?
How do we best support those who are on the battlefield now?
How do we educate our fellow sisters so that they can make informed decisions about their lifestyle and healthcare?
How do we support someone who is dealing with the aftermath of cancer and the myriad of health complications as a result of treatment or Breast Implant Illness?
Listen to the brave, strong women who are right in front of you who will share their stories of overcoming and the lessons learned along the way.
You know what else we need? Here, today? We need clothes that fit us after surgeries. To feel normal again in clothes is a small victory. Mastectomy bras that are actually pretty and comfortable. Mastectomy bathing suits that don’t look like something my grandmother would wear. I’m grateful for a fellow warrior, who has an amazing company that is just for us. Check out AnaOno HERE.
We need doctors who will listen to us when our fears turn out to be true because we ARE listening to our bodies. We need those same doctors to know calling us a hypochondriac is not helpful when we are fighting a secondary disease the implants caused. (True story)
We need to support each other nutritionally, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally in order to take care of ourselves holistically. We need to care for one another.
This October, please consider what your pink purchase is truly supporting. Put the pink donuts back on the shelf, and please don’t wear pink for me.
[If you are looking for practical ways to support your loved one through breast cancer, I wrote a 3 part series you can find here: “15 Must Have Items for Your Mastectomy”, “7 Practical Ways to Support Your Friend Through Breast Cancer”, “3 Practices to Stay Connected to God Through Tough Times”.]