Let me type that again for you. Breast cancer is not beautiful. Read it. Soak it in. And note, I did not say that people with breast cancer are not beautiful, because nothing could be further from the truth. But breast cancer? Any cancer? It's not beautiful.
This has been on my mind for a while. We live in a society where we like to make things pretty. We like stories that are neat and pretty and are happily ever after. We parade breast cancer survivor stories across the tv and talk about how cancer is a gift. And how s/he fought hard and won. And now? S/he'll live happily ever after. The end.
Except for most of us? That's not how it works. Most of us do not think our cancer was a gift. Those who survived? It's not because we were somehow stronger or fought harder than those who didn't. And we don't wake up one day, in remission, and then move on like it never happened.
It's a hard road. If I may be frank, it's a pretty shitty road. And you can paint that road as pink as you want, it doesn't change that it's a hard road to be on. That most of us would do anything to never have to walk on it. And it certainly isn't beautiful.
But while we're busy portraying beautiful pink-land, women are hurting. A few weeks ago I took part in a chat on twitter about metastatic breast cancer. Most people participating didn't even know what metastatic breast cancer was. They didn't know people's stories who are living with metastatic breast cancer. This, this is the dangerous side effect of presenting breast cancer as beautiful. As just a minor detour in someone's life. Because for too many women (and in my mind 1 is too many), their life will end because of breast cancer. They won't go into remission. And as they don't fit the beautiful stories we create around cancer, their voices have been left out of the conversation.
This needs to change. We need to stop making cancer beautiful. We need to share stories - of all women, not just ones that fit into a nice little box. We need to move past awareness. Frankly, I don't know a single person who isn't aware of breast cancer. Awareness isn't enough anymore. We need education and facts and all the voices of breast cancer to be heard.
Want to learn more about metastatic breast cancer and those living with it? Then I encourage you to visit Faces of MBC.