Monday, October 08, 2012


I could alternatively title this post Pink Stinks, and/or In Which I  Make it All About Me. Instead, I"ll just go with sigh and try my best to find the right words to say.

It is October. AKA Pinktober. Pink is everywhere I turn. Everywhere. I can not escape it. Too many times each day I see boobs, or pink, or both. It's all under the guise of awareness. Or of finding a cure {never mind the fact that very little of money goes to research that might lead to a cure or prevention- which might be a rant for another day}.

Everywhere I turn there is pink. And most everywhere I turn are ads, commercials, tv shows, news reporters, etc, etc, talking about getting a mammogram because early detection saves lives. Now, I want to take a break to remind you about the science of breast cancer - early detection can help in approximately 1/3rd of breast cancer cases. In the other 2/3rds? It has no bearing. So, are they lying by saying early detection saves lives? Well. No. But they aren't telling the whole truth ... many people (including my past self) thought that if we could just find all breast cancer early, we would eliminate all breast cancer deaths. I mean, isn't that what is often implied?

And then they throw out stats - like how the 5 year survival rate is improving. What they don't say is the daily death toll (about 110 women every single day die of breast cancer. Ever single day in the US.} has hardly changed at all. We haven't actually prevented many deaths ... it's just women with breast cancer are living longer. If you live 5 years 1 month and then the cancer kills you, guess what? They get to say the 5 year survival rate has gotten better. And yes, the survival rate is getting better. And it's fabulous that women are living longer, but some people out there think people don't even die from breast cancer anymore because of the stats thrown about this time of month. Because October is Pinktober and we'll bury our head in the sand and pretend that breast cancer is beautiful, and it's all about the breasts, and the 5 year survival rate is getting better so it's all good. Just get your mammogram and you'll be fine too.

It is bothering me SO very much this year. I don't remember feeling this stabby last October, but this year, it's there. I can say it: I HATE pinktober. It might be because I have lost 3 friends to breast cancer this year. Three women, gone too soon. Three families, heart-broken. Hundreds of people affected. But hey, the NFL players wear pink socks, so it's all okay! Um, no.

I had planned to not really rant about it on the blog this month, honestly. But then this: last week someone I know from the on-line breast cancer community, told us all her cancer came back. And this time it's metastasized to her bones. There is no cure for this. There will not be remission for her. It's been over 5 years since her original diagnosis. She has three kids. She found it early the first time. Based on "BCA month ads" she should be fine and not dealing with this. But there it is.  Her cancer is back. She is devastated. Her family, her friends, it's heart breaking. And since it's all about me, it's hard to not wonder if that will someday be me. Having to tell my husband, my children, my family, my friends. And it pisses me off.

I was telling my husband this story. And he got it. He, who has to walk a fine line with me when I am pissed off lest I take all my anger out on him even though it's not his fault, said simply - I know. And it sucks. I don't want you to walk around and live in fear everyday. And yet, if you have dreams, you need to do it sooner rather than later. And not wait. If a chance comes up, you have to take it.

Why? Because we both know there is no guarantee my cancer won't return. It could come back tomorrow. It could come back in 8 years. It could come back in the breast or it could come back in my bones, my lungs, my brain, my liver.

And this, my friends, is I think the reason BCA month bothers me so much. Why I feel all the pink around is smothering ... pink crap won't end breast cancer and breast cancer deaths. Mammograms won't end breast cancer and breast cancer deaths. Mastectomies won't end it. Hitting the 5 year mark won't end it. Wearing pink won't end it. Even if we really want it to. Even if we have the best of intentions.

*Please note: I am not saying mammograms are bad. I just think the benefits of early detection are being over-stated and it's not right. I am also aware that there has been some good coming out of pink, that said, I'd argue that today - pink is so commercialized and has way more to do with making money than anything else.


  1. Excellent post, Brandie. Thanks for this. It's always tough to talk about reality. It may not be pretty, but it's important. People need to know what the stats really mean. They need to know that cancer does come back. Cancer - any cancer - is not pretty, fuzzy, hopeful, cute, fashionable. We may be hopeful, strong, beautiful, but cancer is NOT!

  2. I'm glad to read of another survivor who's tired of the pink. They talk of early diagnosis but really, a significant number of early diagnosis is due to mammograms detecting DCIS or LCIS, which is in situ pre-cancer and is not invasive breast cancer. In the past these weren't diagnosed unless one had a biopsy. In situ pre-cancer doesn't produce a lump, it cannot be felt. Some in situ will go on to become invasive breast cancer, some will not. But since we can't tell which will or won't all in situ is treated.

    Good luck on your journey.

  3. Amen. I love this - and I think I said the same thing last year when you posted on this. Things get so lost when all it is is PINK and whew we did our part and life is good and we all feel better now, right? I have my fingers and toes crossed that you never hear the words "cancer is back" in relation to you. And go ahead - be pissed off. You've got full rights to it.

  4. I totally understand what you are saying. Sometimes I wonder if the money spent to turn everything pink was never spent on the paint or the fabric maybe it could have gone to the research instead. Awareness is good, but it feels like it is awareness for it's own sake sometimes, instead of awareness leading directly to research and treatment.


Seeing your comments makes me smile! Thank you so much =)