On August 29th 2014, my mom called while my husband and I were on our way home from a restaurant and told me she was just diagnosed with breast cancer. I remember sitting in the passenger seat in numb disbelief as she explained how she found a lump on her breast days before her routine mammogram, and how she was going in the following month for a lumpectomy. I remember the days following that, talking to each of my sisters on the phone, silently crying, all of us wondering what was going to happen.
For seven months, my mom endured surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. She lost her hair and a bunch of weight. The chemo made her sick. Through it all, she kept up her smile and constantly reassured my sisters and me that she was fine, and she was looking forward to putting this all behind her. During a time, when many women could fall apart and lose their faith, my mom was there, strong for not only herself, but for us as well.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Last week on Facebook I saw one of my friends post a meme of an attractive woman in a tight white t-shirt wearing a pink ribbon across her right breast. Her hand was cupping her breast and his caption read, "Save the boobies month! I'll wear pink!" It wasn't the first Breast Cancer meme I've seen. Plenty of others (posted mainly by men) boasted "I Love Boobies!"
Over the years I've seen pink t-shirts with Save the Ta Tas, Save the Hooters, and Save Second Base. I've seen statuses on Facebook telling everyone to "Go Braless for Breast Cancer Awareness Month!" Hell, I've been guilty of playing the Facebook game where women posted a color as their status. The secret being your status actually represented the color of bra you were wearing. All in the name of raising awareness.
But is it really bringing awareness? Is going without a bra for a day supposed to be in support of women who lose their breasts to a mastectomy?
And maybe you're thinking, Chill! If it brings about awareness, then who cares how it's done? But is it really bringing awareness? Is going without a bra for a day supposed to be in support of women who lose their breasts to a mastectomy?
Truthfully, we are all aware of breast cancer. We have pink wallets, pink phone covers and pink kitchen stand mixers. We have been saturated with awareness for breast cancer. And all we've done with this awareness is cheapen what women and men go through when they receive a diagnosis. (Yes, men get breast cancer, too.) We glamorize it by our pink merchandise and give it a sexual connotation by sporting shirts and posting memes telling us to save our boobies.
We have made light of a life-changing disease. We call them racks and hooters and jugs but my mom didn't survive boobie cancer, she survived breast cancer. Years ago my aunt probably really wanted to "save her ta tas" with her own cancer diagnosis, but in order to save her life, the doctors informed her she would need to lose her breast.
Let's instead focus on breast cancer prevention, maximizing the quality of life of people diagnosed and showing respect to those undergoing treatments. Let's acknowledge the whole person, not just a part of their body. We need to start taking breast cancer seriously.