There is no good time to receive a breast (or any) cancer diagnosis, but the worst time is during Breast Cancer Awareness month. That’s what happened to me, and I was reminded of this when I started to hear all the promos on the morning televisions shows recently (late September) for the many “pink” and “pink power” events they have planned for this October. The Today Show will be treating some “lucky survivor” to an ambush makeover….ABC News is “Going Pink”… and companies will show their good will with a slew of promotions, such as Ford’s “Warrior in Pink” giveaway.
First, the disclaimer: Yes, I am grateful as someone who has had cancer that my particular brand gets all this attention, and I feel for all the people with every other kind of cancer around which there is much more silence, much less media attention — which in turn, must mean much less support for the bigger issues of cures or of aiding those who cannot afford testing and treatment. I am grateful to the activists who began to broaden the conversation around breast cancer and push the medical and research agenda. I was a part of that movement long before my mother or I was diagnosed, writing about breast cancer for national women’s magazines and working with the New York organizers for the Revlon Run/Walk for women’s cancers in the late 1990s.
Breast cancer organizations and programs all do important work, and every woman diagnosed in recent years has benefited from their efforts. But right now, as every organization and media outlet gears up to “celebrate” or participate in breast cancer awareness month, thousands of women are hearing the word “breast cancer” in the same sentence as their name for the very first time, just as I did two years ago.
Before my diagnosis, I would have thought that Breast Cancer Awareness month would be a comfort to the newly diagnosed. I cannot speak for everyone, but for me it most definitely was not. Yes, again, I am grateful for the activism; but the conversation around Breast Cancer Awareness month is singular – it is about surviving, triumphing, and beating/curing cancer. It is not about coping with or navigating cancer’s emotional impact. So right now, some woman just like I was is in shock. She is numb; she has had her world transformed from a sense of surety to a sense of complete uncertainty. Her body has betrayed her. In an instant, she has felt isolated emotionally and psychologically from everything she thought she knew and especially from the people she loves, who cannot be in her shoes, cannot relate to her journey, unless they, of course, have had cancer, too. Continue readingShare: