It’s my first #BreastCancerAwarenessMonth. It’s all suddenly got reeaaaally loooooud on the cancer front and I am feeling an overwhelming urge to stick my fingers in my ears and dive under the duvet. For a start, is it just me, or does it feel like one huge echo chamber of cancer people making each other even MORE terrifyingly aware than they already are? Are the non-cancer peeps even listening?!
I mentioned on the socials the other that it hasn’t been easy of late. I’m riding some pretty dramatic.. well.. I was going to say “highs and lows’ but it feels a bit more like ‘troughs and ravines’ at the mo where just reaching sea level represents high ground. I’m working through it and doing what I need to do. Constantly thinking about cancer (cancercancercancerCANCER!!!) is one of the things that needs to be managed. Steering clear of the ‘gram can help but paradoxically, it’s also where to go to find people on the same wave length that can make the inner terror feel, well, normal.
At the moment, though, it is REALLY CANCER LOUD with every Thomasina, Dick, and Harriet with Breast Cancer coming out to bang the Boob drum. Quite rightly. It is Breast Cancer Awareness Month after all. Out come the personal diagnosis stories, the tales of recurrence (eek), incurable spread (gut-drop), the scary facts and stats, the jubilant smiley posts about living a great life with incurable breast cancer (hmmmm), all of which is really important for the unworried well to hear, but unwittingly feeds my current Fear Modus Operandi.
It’s particularly loud at the mo of course because I follow a lot of people who happen to have cancer, breast or other. The cancer people I follow also follow, and are followed by a lot of other people with cancer. Lots of us follow each other. These people, the very-breast-cancer-aware, are sharing and commenting on each others’ posts, sharing awareness campaigns that they happen to be a part of, or their friends’, sharing breast cancer product promotions, blogs, campaigns, tweets, fundraising initiatives. I see the same content being recycled, daily. (As a brief aside, so enmeshed are the cancer aware in cancer awareness, that they opine on the nuances of cancer awareness. Mary Huckle, in life-long treatment for secondary breast cancer, wrote an apologetic instagram post today about ‘going pink’ this Friday because of the general outrage around the pinkification and pinkwashing of breast cancer.)
Anyway, back to this. The big question is, is this big Breast Cancer machine just feeding itself? Do the really important parts of Breast Cancer Awareness Month actually reach the people who don’t have breast cancer?How many non-cancer peeps have read a Breast Cancer Awareness post on social media and taken it in in some measure, shared or retweeted, checked their boobs, donated to cancer research, attended something that benefits a breast cancer organisation or charity? What difference will Breast Cancer Awareness Month make to them, or you, this October?
If that reads like an admonition, it’s not meant to. If I wasn’t being so lazy, I’d look up fundraising data and awareness stats and correlate with diagnosis rates. I’m pretty sure they’ll prove it’s all working. I am aware, as I write, I might be sounding a tad cynical in the face of this great force for good. Maybe it’s the medical menopause talking (it’s a full moon too y’know lols). Perhaps I’m just feeling a bit weary of it all. If you’re reading this, and you have breast cancer, you might be feeling the same. If you don’t have cancer, do me a solid, and please make it all worthwhile for you. Eyes open. Drink it in. The two best outcomes of this month are 1. Behaviour change (checking and doing something about it if you notice a change) and 2. Donations or fundraising to fill the research coffers to help find a cure.