Friday, September 28, 2012

Breast Cancer Prevention- Think before you Pink

October is upon us. I am excited for fall. I may or may not have already indulged in a pumpkin spice latte. I can't wait for pumpkins and spices and pink yogurt and pink cookies and pink ribbons everywhere and football players in pink- what? Ick. Oh yeah- October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Alright lady friends- There is this thing called cancer and it can grow in your breast. I know?! Crazy right?  It can happen. It happened to me. SO  feel your ta-tas. Know your body. If something feels wrong- get it checked out. Avoid radiation if you can to do that. Guy friends- don't think you are exempt. Feel your man parts- and your tatas too. Like I need to say that- but focus on things that feel different and then go back to business as usual. Whatever that means for you...

 When did Breast Cancer Awareness go sooo sooo wrong. How does dyeing everything think pink help the cause? If you look at awareness being the whole goal- what is being accomplished? When people see pink ribbons- they think of breast cancer. Ok- good- it's a start- that is awareness. But then what> Ooooh it's attached to a product that if I buy- proceeds will go to breast cancer research- that seems like a good deal. Except it's not. The amount actually donated is negligible in many cases and in most cases the company has already made a donation- so your purchase has no bearing on that. Does it make you feel better about your purchase- maybe- does the company make money- yes- does breast cancer research benefit- ever so slightly. DO your research.

I was sick of breast cancer awareness ribbons before I got breast cancer. Now they makes me nauseous and I'm not even on chemo. I've worked with non profits. They are not all created equal. Some pour their funds into valuable research efforts that otherwise would get no funding- other nonprofits build multibillion dollar brands and pay mostly overhead with donations. I do not agree with the spend money to make money philosophy where non profits are concerned. Some of the best nonprofits , ones that affect the most change- are these little grassroots efforts that are true to their cause. Know before you buy. If you really are dedicated to a cause- make a donation to that cause directly- not a business selling something that implies they support that cause. The idea of ribbons was good, in the beginning. It cost next to nothing to show support for a cause. Now everyone has a ribbon and a cause. I was handed a pink ribbon pin as I sat in the oncologist's office right after I heard that I had 3 lesions in my breast. After I had multiple punch biopsies ripped from said tumors- I got a take away pink ribbon gift bag with pink ice packs and more pink ribbons and pink- how to take care of your breast which may or may not be removed entirely depending on the results of this procedure- sheet.  None of it helped me feel better about any of it. None of the organizations or research papers I consulted to try and figure out what the best treatment option- if any - is represented or benefits from goods sold by companies that throw a pink ribbon on them. Pink dye on white gum for breast cancer awareness- are you kidding me?

As a breast cancer survivor- I know that I am "lucky" to have such a prevalent "treatable" cancer. Over 1.6 million people are diagnosed with cancer every year( And these numbers don't include Carcinoma in situ(one of my tumors), only the cancers reported to registries and NO skin cancers. 1500 people die a day from cancer.  I know that billions of dollars of research has gone into finding treatments that work.  I also have researched the subject enough to know scientists are only now learning why these treatments work for some people and not others. With this new information- it will be at least another 5-10 years before there is enough data to support new treatments and whether or not they are effective. Depending on their stage at diagnosis- many breast cancer survivors will not live to see it. The National Cancer Institute was allotted $5,196,136,000 for cancer research in 2012. 5 Billion dollars. $51.7 million at least went into researching causes of cancer. $34.8 million was awarded to research effective and efficient therapies for cancer treatment. $3 million of that went to researching prevention.  This is divided among all cancers. Well- which ever ones have the folks that write the best grant proposals. Which they are generally paid to do or hire out. So again- you need to spend money to get money. There is a definite need to fund valuable research projects. Research projects that aren't funded by politics. This is where the non profits come in. Not all donations are created equal. When I chose to support Alex's Lemonade Stand- it is because I researched their foundation and saw how much funding went directly towards valuable research. Organizations like Susan G. Komen started out noble but soon lost the focus- money was spent on litigation and copyright infringements of their brand- money that was touted to go towards breast cancer research.

As the lucky recipient of a treatable cancer- I also wonder why more isn't being done for prevention. Cancer has become an epidemic. Children are getting more and more cancers. That is problematic. There is not one cause. It is preventable. Although I do suppose that prevention isn't nearly as lucrative as awareness and treatment. Children should not get cancer. Women in their 30's who don't smoke and are relatively healthy should not get breast cancer. I can blame genetics- but my gene didn't just mutate- something causes the damage. I would love to be able to help my kids avoid that.SO for now- I support awareness. I support prevention and I support the millions of women and men and families who face this disease together. All cancer is life changing. I would like to see less ribbons for a whole host of reasons.

Lily Kay Monkey

Lily Kay Monkey
November 2008 Photographed by Shelley Detton (7 Layer Studio)