The good people at Siemen's did a fantastic job with their Turn your city pink campaign for global awareness of breast cancer. While I know that breast cancer affects women and men around the world... the magnitude of the impact of this disease hit me really hard while I was overseas. (I can't tell you how giddy it makes me to be able to say that) Sitting at an event with bloggers and survivors from countries around the globe forced me to really accept that a whole heck of a lot of people get diagnosed with this disease.
This thing is HUGE y'all. I mean, really really big.
By the end of the trip, I had become perturbed. A little angry, a lot sad and mostly just really very confused. Very, very confused. Now, I don't have a good poker face. I cannot hide what I'm thinking or feeling at all. Its one of those things that keeps me from being a great liar and it is also one of those things about me that makes people instantly responsive to me. Sometimes that is a good thing and other times... its a bit of a pain because I don't intend to bother people with all of my crazy thoughts. But usually since its right on my face, they want to know what's on my mind.
Because I was in deep thoughts and trying to identify what was going on with me internally, my face just showed angst. Or anger. And it concerned my travelling partners. I felt badly trying to articulate my feelings because I just couldn't. I believe that I upset them unnecessarily because the emotions were just under my skin but I just couldn't reach them. Even now, its been weeks and that feeling hasn't left me. I have tried several times to articulate my thoughts and concerns and only recently... (like last night) did it start to all come together in my mind about what was bothering me.
I think that something is missing in this breast cancer movement. We're focused on research. That's good. We're focused on awareness. That's good. We're focused on preventive measures. That's okay -- we need more research and more work in this area so that we can be sure what really works and what is just nice to do. We're focused on finding a cure. That's fantastic but we really need some progress in this area. But one area that I think we've missed, overlooked... just forgotten about... is survivors.
What about us? What about those of us who are behind the pink ribbons?
I have hated that thought that your life just picks back up where you left it after you've had breast cancer. I hated it because even though that's the thought that I held on to throughout my treatment, it just wasn't true. My life wasn't the same afterwards. It will never be. It is good, but not the same.
I've also sort of despised that notion that all survivors after breast cancer suddenly become super-human and unafraid and simply able to take the entire world by storm. I guess that it happens for some. But for others... it takes time to get there, if we get there at all. Especially if you weren't that kind of person before breast cancer. It all feels like a lot of pressure to be some sort of perfect new hero for the world afterwards.
I don't always feel like that. In fact, I thought that I burned that damn super-woman cape before I was diagnosed with breast cancer in the first place. *sigh*
I know that people are aware that breast cancer patients and survivors are around the other eleven months of the year... but I wonder... I just wonder. Do you really think about us after our "month" is over?
The question that I keep pondering is about charity. When we give money for fundraisers or in the name of a loved one or a friend, what is our true motivation? Is it enough to raise money for research (and can anyone explain why it is the general public's "burden" to fund cancer research)? What about actual help -- real charity so to speak -- for those who are struggling with the aftermath of the disease? Having an illness like this is a bit of a burden -- emotionally, financially, and physically. While I do think that the way that we currently address the disease -- research, prevention, awareness -- is good. I think that the millions of women and men around the globe who are left to pull together the pieces of their lives after cancer need some sort of something also. What that is specifically... I don't know. But let's rap about it.
I would like to start regular chats online about what needs exist and ways that we can help each other and receive help from others. I have to find a couple of people willing to help me with this behind the scenes. But let me know in the comments if you'd be interested in chatting about helping survivors in tangible ways. I really need your insight and feedback.
#I am the pink ribbon.
This is the start of a movement.