Today NBCAM is best known as an annual campaign to increase awareness of the disease, with “PINKTOBER” the suitably snarky word bestowed by no one in particular to describe the outrageous tsunami of pink merchandise, pink-illuminated buildings, law enforcement patches and handcuffs (WTF?), and pretty much anything else you can think to turn pink in an effort to increase awareness, “fight” breast cancer and support FUNDING FOR A CURE.
I cannot begin to tell you how I’ve struggled with deciding what to write for this week’s blog.
That’s not true.
I know EXACTLY what I want to write, only I don’t want to get kicked off the internet in a lifelong ban, because who then would bring you trusted breast cancer nutrition, fitness and wellness info with such gusto???
My struggle lies in deciding how best to arrange on the page the jumble of words and thoughts in my brain so they make sense and an impact.
Here goes. . .
This coming Monday is October 1, the “official” start of PINKTOBER.
You all know what PINKTOBER is, right?
My readers in the breast cancer community know (that’s the majority of you), but for the uninitiated . . .
PINKTOBER is the alias of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM), observed every October 1-31.
According to Wikipedia (hello, the best place to start researching non-research-based information), NBCAM was founded in 1985 as a partnership between The American Cancer Society and the pharmaceutical division of Imperial Chemical Industries (now part of AstraZeneca, maker of several breast cancer drugs) whose aim from the start was to promote mammography. (1)
From an online archive site. . .
NBCAM originated as an organization in partnership with public service organizations, professional medical associations, and government agencies working together to promote breast cancer awareness, share information on the disease, and provide greater access to screening services. NBCAM has long been dedicated to educating and empowering women to take charge of their own breast health by practicing regular breast exams, scheduling regular visits and annual mammograms with their healthcare provider, adhering to prescribed treatment, and knowing the facts about recurrence. (2)
Today NBCAM is best known as an annual campaign to increase awareness of the disease, with “PINKTOBER” the suitably snarky word bestowed on NBCAM by no one in particular to describe the outrageous tsunami of pink merchandise, pink-illuminated buildings, law enforcement patches and handcuffs (WTF?), and pretty much anything else you can think to turn pink in an effort to increase awareness, “fight” breast cancer and support FUNDING FOR A CURE. (3, 4)
But guess what? Billions of dollars and 33 years later, THERE’S STILL NO CURE.
From the Breast Cancer Action website, “The Cancer Industry”. . .
In just one year of funding — 2007 — the National Cancer Institute (NCI) spent $572.4 million on breast cancer research. That same year, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) spent an additional $705 million. The Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation had total revenues that year of nearly $162 million. The Komen organization also claimed in 2007 that it had invested nearly $1 billion in breast cancer since its founding in 1980. (5)
We’re not making headway on that cure here, folks, and all of us in the breast cancer community know it.
Screening and Detection? Yes. Treatment? Yes. Adjuvant medication? Yes.
But cure? Hell no.
WHAT THE BREAST CANCER COMMUNITY NEEDS
This isn’t the first time I’ve written about NBCAM, nor shared my opinion that more awareness is NOT what we need. I wrote this 2014 blog post the weekend prior to my own diagnostic mammogram appointment, which I’d made hastily after the terrifying detection of a lump in my breast a mere four days earlier.
Three weeks after that mammogram I had my very own October breast cancer awareness experience when I was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC.)
There was nothing remotely pink about it.
And now, almost four years later, I like to think I know what we need:
- We need to know what causes breast cancer.
- We need to know how to prevent breast cancer (prevent it and you don’t need to cure it.)
- We need a CURE for metastatic breast cancer.
PINKTOBER. . .THE TRUTH
Depending on your position, you’ll greet PINKTOBER with giddiness, indifference, anxiety or utter disdain. The anticipation of PINKTOBER by a “stamp-a-pink-ribbon-on-everything-to-increase-sales-in-October” merchandise marketer is the polar opposite of a patient, survivor, or someone living with metastatic breast cancer (cue the anxiety and disdain.)
For someone who’s neither marketer nor patient, indifference wins out; “Hey, look at that pretty pink building. Oh, right, it’s breast cancer month. Wannna get dinner?”
For the record, I’m not giddy.
I know for some of you, this October will be the first PINKTOBER following your diagnosis, or you’re right now on that rollercoaster of being diagnosed and learning your treatment plan.
For others, this may be your 23rd PINKTOBER, and sadly, for some this may be your last.
God I hated writing that.
But I’m all about speaking truth to breast cancer, and the truth is, it’s NOT ALL RIBBONS AND RECOVERY.
And PINKTOBER can mess with your head.
FROM THE BREAST CANCER TRENCHES
This post is a departure from my usual guidance on what to eat, research reviews on individual foods, the best diet for breast cancer, the psychology of breast cancer self-care, or how much exercise is recommended to reduce recurrence risk. It’s not even a reminder to get your mammogram.
It’s about speaking truth to breast cancer. It’s the DAM MAD that drives my DAM. MAD. initiative. It’s bringing to light the AWARENESS that every, single day, 675 women are newly diagnosed, and 110 women die of metastatic breast cancer. (6)
In my opinion, THAT’S the awareness the world needs; to see the ugly, raw, crushingly sad truth that lies just beyond all the pink frivolity and ridiculousness.
And so my beautiful breast cancer community, to pay tribute to the truth you live every, single day, and to shine a light on that truth, I’m sharing YOUR words about PINKTOBER.
Last week I posed this to my Twitter breast cancer crew; “Tell me in 5 words what PINKTOBER means to you.”
Here are their (YOUR?) responses – worth their weight in gold; NOT PINK.
BY THE WAY – When you’re trying to make breast cancer diet or nutrition changes on your own and feel confused, overwhelmed or frustrated, I recommend using information created by an experienced professional. To learn breast cancer nutrition basics with a program created by me, CLICK HERE. If you feel working with an oncology dietitian would be a better fit for you, CLICK HERE to access a directory of practitioners.
- Breast Cancer Awareness Month Origin
- National Breast Cancer Awareness Month
- Nebraska law enforcement to wear pink patches to help fight breast cancer
- Pinktober 2017 – Can’t Catch a Break Blog
- Breast Cancer Action
- Metastatic Breast Cancer Network