The reality of BC

No, I’m not talking about BC the comic strip; I wouldn’t waste my blogspace on that. I’m talking about the reality of breast cancer. The everyday effects of living with — and past — this damned disease. Case in point: I was dashing through the grocery store yesterday to grab a carton of milk (organic of course, because of all the hormones they inject into the poor cows to increase their production, and hormones scare me; and in a paper carton instead of a plastic jug because plastics now scare me, too. Thanks a lot, cancer, for turning me into a paranoid freak who can barely get through the grocery store. Oh, and the receipt now scares me, too, because the chemicals on that innocent-looking slip of paper can act like estrogen, which fueled my cancer. Then there’s the money to pay for the groceries: how dirty and/or chemical-laced is it???). It’s a wonder I can get out of the house.

Anyhoo, before the paranoia set in, I was assaulted by the plethora of pink products. They’re everywhere. Yes, I know it’s October, which means Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I should expect this, right? As I cut through the canned-goods to get to the milk, I see this:

Ah, yes. Pink-label soup. Fantastic. All that sodium doesn’t contribute to lymphedema, does it??

Right next to my organic, paper-enshrouded milk is of course the pink-a-palooza yogurt display.

Take a half step to the right and there’s the pink-ribbon-edition Milano cookies, to go with the milk.

In case you spill your milk, never fear: Brawny is in on the pinkwashing, too. 

So is Viva. You’ve got a choice. There’s pink-bedecked TP, too, in case the dairy upsets your tummy. Or in case you’re in the midst of long-term antibiotic therapy for a post-mastectomy infection and feel like your gut has been attacked by a roto-tiller. Nausea and diarrhea from chemo? No problem. Quilted Northern has got your back (side).

If the paper towels can’t contain your spill, never fear: pink Swiffer is here. I know I feel better with a pink Swiffer in my house. If only I could have Swiffered the cancer right out of my chest. Or spiff up the scars left from the multiple surgeries required by said cancer.

And in case you didn’t get enough calories from the milk & cookies, there’s always chocolate:

Pick your poison. Literally.

I guess the candy makers don’t know (or don’t care) that the majority of women fighting breast cancer gain weight — I know, how whacked is that??

Need some pampering? How about some pretty pink nail polish? No harmful chemicals in that. OPI’s “Pink of Hearts” is pretty as a picture, and goes right along with the soft, feminine image we breast cancer girls want to project. 

Or, if you’re feeling feisty, try the OPI “Pink Shatter” limited-edition polish.

We’re gonna shatter cancer, one toenail at a time. But wait — don’t put that polish on your fingernails if you’re going in for yet another surgery from breast cancer. The anesthesiologist needs to monitor your nailbeds, and the pulse oximeter may go wonky.

Being surrounded by pink products everywhere is making me claustrophobic. While I’m glad that corporations donate money to “the cause,” I would like to get through the grocery store without being bombarded with reminders of  this dreaded disease. Just in case I wasn’t thinking of cancer at that very moment, BAM! there’s the shelf full of pink-ribbon dog food to remind me. On the off-chance that I was freed from the worry and strife of my cancer “journey” for two seconds, WHACK! there’s the special-edition Morton’s iodized salt to reignite my struggle. Maybe I was consumed with thoughts of the grocery list instead of wondering if the asymmetry of my newly constructed breasts was obvious to a random passerby. Too bad, because KABOOM! there’s the pink-ribbon Downy fabric softener to bring me back to the reality that is living with the messy aftereffects of breast cancer.

All this pinkwashing has jangled my nerves. Maybe I can relax with a glass of cheap wine or a malt beverage. 

They’re for the cure, right?

Forget the yogurt and the cleaning products. Where’s the pink-ribbon-wrapped bottle of xanax, to quell the anxieties associated with fighting a deadly disease? Where’s the pink iTunes gift card to buy some relaxing music when the fear of recurrence grips us?

What we really need to see for “breast cancer awareness” is this: My flat chest after a bilateral mastectomy at the ripe old age of 41.

What we really need to see for “breast cancer awareness” is the array of home-health-care products required by a post-mastectomy infection and the confusion and fear their presences brings into an otherwise peaceful household.

What we really need to see for “breast cancer awareness” is a post-mastectomy infection site, finally finally finally healing after 3 surgeries to excise dead tissue. 

What we really need to see for “breast cancer awareness” is a young woman strapped to a wound vac, to suck out all the toxins and poisons created by a cluster of bad luck in the OR.

What we really need to see for “breast cancer awareness” are photos of brave women who’ve undergone mastectomies yet still pose for portraits, like in the SCAR project.

photo by David Jay

What we really need to see for “breast cancer awareness” are blogs from women like Deborah Lattimore who write honestly and openly about breast cancer, and are brave enough to post pictures like this:

photo by deborah lattimore

What we really need to see for “breast cancer awareness” are women like my blogfriend at The Pink Birdie, who has no use for a prosthesis but bravely faces the world in her post-surgery state. Her post “Awareness on the Move” says it all. Read it, then you’ll know why we rant about pinkwashing, why the bevy of pink-ribbon-bedazzled consumer products upsets us.

What we really need to see for “breast cancer awareness” are instances of women living their lives post-surgery, post-cancer.

googleimages

What we really need to see for “breast cancer awareness” are images of women taking cancer by the balls and saying “Not me, not now.”

 

There. Now don’t you feel  more aware?


9 Comments on “The reality of BC”

  1. Eddie says:

    I am impressed by your ability to create some humor out of the horror and anxiety of breast cancer. I hadn’t thought about you being robbed of a moment free from cancer concern by a pack of milanos. Sometimes the pinkwashing does make me wonder if corporations and just joining in to get me to buy there products. Are the for the cure the other eleven months of the year? Skip the cost of redesigning packaging for one month and just give the money to research. A sticker would suffice. And what about the companies who don’t pink it up? Do they like breast cancer?? What month is pancreatic cancer month? And yet, you’d be the bad guy if you punched someone or trashed the pink display.

  2. David Benbow says:

    I’M definitely more aware. Kudos again to the SCAR project and to the toughest girl I know.

  3. Mandi says:

    Delta flight just about had me in moments of panic. October is a constant reminder, I hope the money goes to help, but wow, seeing the pink ribbons isn’t helping me move on.

  4. Jan Hasak says:

    I’m way more aware now. Pink just dominates everything. That’s why we need to see the pictures you’ve reproduced in this great post. Thanks!
    XOXO,
    Jan

  5. Patti Ross says:

    Thanks for always being so honest with such caring, concern, and humor.

  6. Amy H. says:

    Ok, I’m feeling pretty bad about choosing the shirt I wore today to “our” doctor appt because of the neckline and then only realizing once we got there that it was hot pink. Sorry for the reminder….

  7. […] in making such a proclamation, let’s hope we get some action. Action beyond pink ribbons and promotional tie-ins like toilet paper and cups of yogurt. The estimate is that some 160,000 women are dealing with […]

  8. […] But that’s the reality of breast cancer. […]

  9. […] There have been many ridiculous things said and written and passed along about my “condition.” Thanks to Komen, breast cancer is commonly thought of as the “good” cancer, the “pretty” cancer. You know, the one wrapped in a girlie pink ribbon and represented by rosy-cheeked, full-breasted warrior-women crossing the finish line of the race that’s allegedly going to “cure” my “condition.” (In fairness, it’s also thanks to Komen that my “condition” is one I can blog about without shame or fear or offending someone by using the word “breast.” Betty Ford gets credit for that, too. I can like Komen for de-stigmatizing my “condition” but still shake my head at its idiot pinkwashing.) […]


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