Wednesday, January 13, 2016

We've got to do more

Yesterday a prominent voice in the metastatic breast cancer community passed away.

She died.

From breast cancer.

She was too young.

She leaves two young sons, a father, family, and friends.

Holley and I were not friends. We didn't talk on the phone. We didn't text. We didn't hang out. We were in similar circles, sometimes the same circles. I admired her for what she did. I loved her video. I was glad it got people talking.

And yet, her death has my heart buzzing. And my head buzzing.

Buzzing with sadness. With anger. With frustration. With guilt.

Several breast cancer advocates and bloggers have passed away recently.

And you know what? It feels like too darn much.

But seriously ... we've got to do more.

Ditch the pink ribbons. Dare I say it - fuck pink ribbons.

Pink ribbons are not curing cancer.

But we are bombarded with them. They are on eggs, on yogurt, on sweaters, on jackets, on cement mixing trucks, on fire trucks, on drills, magnets for the car, for the fridge.

You can't hardly move around this country without seeing a flipping pink ribbon.

And what has it gotten us.

Oh, I know. We can talk about breast cancer more openly now. We don't have to hide away.

Except when pictures on facebook are removed.
Or when survivors are told they are being grumblers.
Or when you don't look like a breast cancer patient.
Or when you smell bad from treatment.

Oh, I know. It's raised money for a cure.

Except for it's raised money for salaries.
And for "education."
And for awareness.
Or it's just pocketed

Oh, I know. It's taught people about breast cancer.

Except for those who think you only get breast cancer if it runs in your family.
Or that people don't die from breast cancer anymore.
Or that people don't actually know their risk of getting breast cancer.
Or that 60% of people know almost nothing (or nothing) about advanced breast cancer.
Or that people think 1 in 8 women of any age will get breast cancer.

Wait. Back the truck up?

Let me tell you, from where I stand, what the pink ribbon has done for us.

It has made breast cancer seem beautiful.
It has made breast cancer seem not difficult.
It has made breast cancer sexy.
It has made those who are dying from breast cancer feel unwelcomed.
It has made people who haven't been through it think it's an "easy" cancer.

Can you sense the anger? The frustration? The sadness?

Can you see that blanketing every product imaginable with pink isn't helping?

The same number of women are dying every. single. day. today in America as they did in 1980!

Where is the progress? Why aren't we talking about this more? Why isn't this being discussed?

Why are we pink washing a disease that is killing men and women every single day.

Yesterday, two little boys went to bed with their mom gone. A husband went to bed missing his wife. A mother, a father, missing their daughter.

That's just one of about 107 families who lost a loved one yesterday.


Of One hundred seven.

That doesn't include the estimated 155,000 women living with metastatic breast cancer. An estimated 155,000 women who will almost probably die from cancer. And if not cancer, something related to cancer. Or treatment.

Estimated. 155,000.

Know why it's estimated? Because no one actually tracks it.

I guess if you're going to die anyway, no one needs to keep count.



I'm here.
Tonight I got to say good-night to my children. To my husband. To granny.
I'm here.

But too many women are not.

And we aren't talking about it. Not enough of us are talking about it.

People want the pretty side of cancer. The uplifting side of cancer. The women-so-strong-they-beat-it stories of cancer.

But we can't change the numbers. Or the statistics. Or the heartache. Or the pain. If we ignore it. If we pretend it's all a bunch of pink unicorns running on pink rainbows among pink clouds.

I read tonight, over at Metathriving, this paragraph that Susanne posted

Goddamnit, won’t someone hear us? When will someone hear us? Pay fucking attention here? We’re dying! The “awareness” model isn’t doing shit! We need to change focus to research! Hear us! Don’t buy into the pink-painted Komen drivel. Send your money where it will make an actual difference. Just to name a few. But pay attention. Pink ribbons are not a cure. Listen to us. Early detection is not a cure. There is no such thing as “cancer-free” for breast cancer. Listen. 
And I read it, and my brain was screaming YES! THIS! SO MUCH THIS!

I don't have stage iv breast cancer. I don't know why treatment worked for me and not others. I don't know why so many families are without loved ones when my family gets to be with me now. But I do know this, I'm not going to sit back and be silent. I'm going to be here, I'm going to be listening. I will hear what the woman dealing with this will say. I will take it to heart. I will spread it to as many people as I can.

I am listening.

And my heart is breaking for so many. And my head is hurting.

But I'm listening. And I won't stay silent.


  1. Hi Brandie,
    Many of us are feeling incredibly sad, angry, frustrated and disheartened. The losses just keep coming and every death from this wretched disease feels personal. We will keep speaking out. We will keep advocating. How could we not? Thanks for this post and for the link too. I had forgotten about that old post of mine. Sometimes "grumbling" is necessary.

  2. Thank you, from every fiber of my being. We need more allies who get it, who understand the stakes, who know the score. Thank you for standing with us. It gives us hope, and that's a very rare commodity to find in the land of Stage IV.

  3. It frightens me that so many people make such a good living off the pinkness of it all. It seems like they have no incentive to work toward a cure. There's been an awful lot of money thrown at this disease with too little result for the people who really need it.

  4. Such a great article, Brandie! Thank you for educating me throughout your journey.

  5. Thank you for continuing to be a voice while so many of us Stage IV folks are dying. THANK YOU!


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