To Be or Not Boobie
One of main themes of this blog has and always will be, making a cancer journey. As I see it, everyone who either receives a diagnosis or takes care of someone who has received a diagnosis, goes on a journey, and no two journeys are the same.
For instance, during the many months I spent practically living in an infusion room (where chemo is administered) I got to know a lot of different cancer patients and caregivers, each one with their stories, each one with their own journeys. None of those journeys is the same, nor is any more valid than another.
The same goes for breast cancer or any kind of cancer awareness programs.
I’m sure most are aware of the pink ribbon campaign, but what some of you may not know is that this is also a controversial campaign. While many wear the pink ribbons, buy pink ribbon merchandise or post pink ribbon images online, as I do, many find those images offensive. Some of the reasons for this include, that breast cancer isn’t a pink, frilly thing, but a serious disease that kills thousands of women, and yes, men each year. Another reason is that there has been some doubt about how the funds donated to organizations, such as the Susan G. Komen, are really used. I got into quite a heated discussion last year with a breast cancer survivor who was vehemently against the pink ribbon campaign. She raised many valid points, but in the end, we agreed to disagree, and we have remained friends.
If you are interested in learning more about the pink ribbon campaign, I recommend this website, Pink Ribbon.org. By the way, I am in no way affiliated with this organization, outside of sporting pink ribbons on my Facebook avatar and on this blog.
Think Before You Pink and Cancer Sucks are two organizations that sprung up in opposition to the pink ribbon campaign. Many cancer patients and caregivers are grateful to have an alternative to the pink ribbon campaign and proudly wear “Cancer Sucks” buttons, t-shirts to demonstrate how they feel and to separate themselves from the pink ribbon movement.
There are also those who do neither and find other ways to empower themselves on their cancer journeys. As I said before, there is no “one way.” It’s your way and if it works for you, it’s valid. To be honest, the pink ribbon thing isn’t really one I advocate, but my mom loves the pink ribbons and is completely unaware of the controversy, so I use the ribbon online out of respect for her.
Then there is The Scar Project, which posts, “Breast Cancer is Not a Pink Ribbon” on their masthead. If you haven’t visited this website, please do. In it, you will find raw, yet beautiful photographs of women who have had mastectomies. I’ve posted one here as an example.
Some of my friends take part in Boobie Wednesday on Facebook, Myspace and Twitter. What is Boobie Wednesday? Well each week on Twitter women display photographs of their cleavage to as a reminder for to others to do their monthly self-exams, as well as support breast cancer awareness. Many women find it empowering to display photographs of themselves after they’ve had a mastectomy to show that they are still beautiful without breasts. I’ve seen those photographs and they are truly beautiful. Boobie Wednesday was started by a woman, who has since become a cancer survivor, as a fun way to support breast cancer awareness and education.
As it says on the website, “ Don’t be scared, be self-aware and self-exam monthly.”
Whether you agree or disagree with their methods, you can’t disagree with their message, yet this seems to be a problem for some. Some are cancer patients and survivors, and some are just offended by the images and motives of those who take part in Bobbie Wednesday. While some women feel empowered by this, others are not merely offended, but sickened, hurt, etc., but here’s the thing that some seem to forget, both sides of this issue are equally valid. Besides that, if you don’t want to see the images, then don’t go looking for them. It’s that simple.
Have I taken part in Boobie Wednesday? Only as a blogger when I was asked to write a guest blog after my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago, but no, there are no photos of my cleavage anywhere for anyone to see. Is it something I would ever do? Nope, but that doesn’t give me the right to judge or write demeaning things about those who do.
Every woman who receives a breast cancer diagnosis has the option to get breast reconstruction. My mom was offered it and she was 78 years old at the time. She chose not to, but many do. My mom’s surgeon told us about one of his patients who at the age of 90 got full breast reconstruction. Does that mean that my mom and others like her, who chose not to have breast reconstruction have the right to put her down for doing so? No, because it’s her right to make the best decision for herself, just as it was my mom’s right to the very same thing.
The bottom line is this, according to BreastCancer.org, “In 2011, an estimated 230,480 new cases of invasive breast cancer were expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S., along with 57,650 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer.” So whether you like or dislike pink ribbons or photos of post-cancer survivors or women with cleavage, take the time to educate yourself about breast cancer and remember to it’s not your place to judge anyone else’s cancer journey.
Just walk it and know that you’re not alone.