From Pink to Red: My Issues with the Month of October

[Author's Note: I wrote this last weekish and let it sit in my drafts box because I know it's controversial. And quite honestly, I was a little afraid of posting it (least I hurt someone's feelings). I also sat here for a half hour debating whether or not I needed to put several disclaimers on here and apologize for my strong opinion. But really, I'm not sorry for the following post. And I do truly believe it's our duty to be responsible, to ask questions, to educate ourselves, to stand up and say, "Hey something's odd about this," even about the hard things-even about cancer. I also believe in listening to my urge to write, and this I didn't so much write as standby and let the words fall out. ]

Dear Internet,

There are a handful of things that really fire me up. Like when my husband gets something out of a cabinet and leaves the door open. When people say one thing, but do another. When grave injustices are committed like double parking, genocide, or Netflix not having a movie I really want to watch.

But nothing really compares to the disdain. The furry. The annoyance. The fire I feel for the month of October. Because for the month of October I have to hear about, and see, and deal with breast cancer awareness.

I usually keep quiet about this particular pet peeve of mine because: 1) it's not exactly popular to say, "If I see that stupid pink ribbon on one more thing I'm going to scream." 2) I know my hatred is personal and stems from the fact that my mom died of Ovarian cancer. A cancer that gets little attention, yet is far more deadly (figure that one out Internet). And 3) Deep down I'm all about promoting awareness and research and supporting survivors and their families because regardless of what kind you or your loved one get-cancer sucks.

I bide this month sending dear friends snarky messages, rolling my eyes, and complaining to my husband. But this time October you've gone too far.

I mean seriously, a National No Bra Day? Pardon my french but WTF? How is putting on display the things breast cancer survivors loose helpful? Should we have a no underwear day in support of testicular cancer? I mean the cruel, cruel irony of this idea makes my insides hurt. (Which is what really fired me up about this whole thing in first place. Because really, a No Bra day?!? It makes no sense to me.)

(Then, there's the second thing riles me up about any "awareness" type event, breast related or not.) What does it do?

Let's say I didn't hate trite (My inner feminist would like for me to also insert the world sexist here, which I realize opens up a whole other can of worms. Do with that what you will.) stuff like this and I just happened to whip off my bra in support of breast cancer. Then, what? Are we closer to a cure? Has some family suddenly gotten money to offset the cost of medical treatment? Has a survivor magically grown their hair back, overcome their nausea, and resumed a "normal" life?

No. Not one of those things happens.

What happens is people have pointed and stared at my nipples and sagging breasts all day. Which helps no one, and quite frankly makes me feel a little weird. Just like half the crap that's painted pink.

So while it might make you, personally, feel better to ditch your bra or buy something with a ribbon, it's not actually doing anything (and in some cases it's actually spreading the disease). (Some of you will argue, "Yes, it is! It is! It's bringing awareness!" To which I will reply: unless you have been living under a rock for the past decade we are all very aware of breast cancer. I can't buy yogurt without being reminded of breast cancer. Awareness does not in fact fix the problem. It's like if a giant hole opened up in the middle of my living room and all I did was tell people about the giant hole. "Hey, there's a hole. It's giant. It's in my living room. It happened at this time and was caused by this. And it's a real problem. Let's make t-shirts about this giant hole. And go on walks. And spend a portion of the money we'd use to fix the hole making sure everyone has a trinket that acknowledges the hole!" And if I did that. If I made sure everyone was aware of this hole. Not only would my husband think I'm crazy, we'd still have a giant freaking hole in our living room. The problem wouldn't have actually been solved. I can't just wear cute shirts that announce the presence of the hole. I actually have to do something about said hole.)

And doing something is what cancer survivors and their families need. They don't need you to take off your bra (they may even actually hate you a little because you have a bra to take off). They don't need you to buy a key chain, water bottle, Christmas ornament, trash cash, vibrator, dog dish, T-shirt, bumper sticker, tote bag, pencil, pen, roll of wrapping paper, yoga mat, magnet, lipstick, or cookie. (Things that organizations and institutions have to spend their money on to make, instead of spending their money on you know finding a cure and doing research. And all because we want some bauble that says, "I'm aware! I support! Look at me!")

No, cancer survivors and their families don't need any of that. They need you to come over. To sit with them. To clean their house. To buy their groceries. To talk to them like they're normal. To talk to them like they are sick when they are sick. To mop up vomit and diarrhea. To help care for their children. To visit them in the hospital. To listen to them. To cook for them. To tell them you love them. To make donations directly to companies and foundations that are doing research whether you get a knickknack or not. To take care of yourself. To be educated and empowered about your body. Your whole body-not just your breasts. To give them a pass when they are tired and cranky and crabby. To be supportive by actually being supportive.

Because cancer is hard. And it sucks. And for the most part we'd all rather buy a cute shirt or take off our bra because it's easier. But these people don't have it easy. And neither should you.


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