Thursday, October 3, 2013

A Graphic Look at PINK

I do not hate pink.  In fact, I find it to be a flattering color for me and the several shades of pink represent so much more for me in my life post-cancer. 

I do hate the way pink is used.  Pinkwashing.  Have you heard of it?  Tell me  you have not walked into any box store in the month of October and you have not been drowned in pink as it is everywhere.  Pink has been branded into a commercial enterprise of its own; namely for many corporations to jump on the breast cancer “awareness” bandwagon and ultimately, reap the benefits of its bottom line profit margin.

Debates abound with some die-harders telling me that a pink ribbon on their bucket of fried chicken does make them stop and think about their breast health for a moment.

 Come on!  <Insert my most dramatic, sarcastic eye-roll right here!> 

Seriously, is it not infuriating that the pink ribbon – a symbol of a horrendous disease and a cause to “cure” the same – is somewhat misplaced on a bucket of obesity inducing fried chicken?  How does that pink ribbon on a bag of cat food or cat litter help women with their breast health?  Personally, I have seen the ribbon on everything from toilet paper, bubble wrap, Italian sausages, yogurts, duct tape, and countless other items of merchandise for sale.
We KNOW, we KNOW, we KNOW breast cancer exists.  Can we all safely say we are very AWARE that breast cancer is a profound problem currently today?  Um, yes.  Do not even get me started on "the cure".....that is another blog post in and of itself.

Have you read the label to see how much of your “donation” by purchase of said item actually goes to the purported cause?  Maybe ten percent, or maybe ten cents or maybe the disclaimer is as vague as “a portion of the proceeds from the purchase of this product goes to a breast cancer charity (or to breast cancer research).”  Wait, what?

Where is YOUR money going?

Buying pink does not necessarily do anything for the hundreds of thousands battling breast cancer each year.  In fact, many of the so-called pink items actually contain ingredients that may CAUSE cancer.  Yay for a cure! 

Come on!  <Insert my most dramatic, sarcastic eye-roll right here!> 

We CAN do better than this!  We can, we can, we can!!!!

Let me tell you a little about breast cancer.  Your brain will permanently etch the sound waves of your surgical oncologist calling you to tell you that you have cancer.  You will hear that voice in your head for the remainder of your life.  You will never, ever forget the dread, the fear, and the pit in the bottom of your innermost core knowing you have a disease that may possibly take your life.

Your eyes will never erase the image of a nurse donning all but a HazMat suit to come administer the insanely toxic and potent poison right….into…your veins.  The fear of watching the gelatinous “Red Devil” (aka Adriamycin) arriving in the largest syringe you have ever laid eyes on (bigger than a turkey baster, people) being slowing pushed into the IV port and the feeling of the cool toxic substance surge into your body is similar to what you envision being tortured may be like.  You will also panic at the sight of a technician coming in with a metal lockbox containing the radioactive isotopes they inject INTO YOU.  Anything that must be under lock and key in a protective safe and deemed *radioactive* (I think Chernobyl if you will), must not be thrust into your bloodstream.  Oh, yes, it does.

Despite drinking gallons of liquids to counter the effects of the noxious chemicals soaring through your system, you will not forget the feeling of not being able to poop.  That is right.  You insist to yourself that what goes in MUST come out.  However, trying to poop on chemotherapy is nearly impossible.  You actually consider an emergency room visit because it….just…..will…..not……come…..out.  You cry.

Your breasts will never be the same.  Ever.  Not only will you show hundreds of different people your boobies on a daily basis, you will not be able to pull off the name Misty Rain and get tips in your thong for displaying these beautiful mounds.  Oh, did I mention that about ninety-five percent of these people who gawk at your boobs will also touch them.  Yup.  Men and women.  Young, middle-aged, and old.  You cannot help but wonder how many boobs they touch every day in their professional lives.  Seriously, your mind goes there.

Your armpit will be scarred and lymph nodes taken for good.  Your breasts may be one or all of the following:  scarred, misshapen, lopsided, tattooed, puckered, dimply, discolored, numb, plastic, radiation-induced firm, mis-matched nippled, lumpy, filled with scar tissue or fatty necrosis or even reconstructed from tissue from somewhere else on your body.  Your emotional outlook on how your feminine breasts are now far from how you were made naturally may take a huge hit causing you to hide your breasts from your husband or not want to date for fear of disgusting them.

The bone pain from the other poison, called Taxol, will make you contemplate suicide.  Take the pain of childbirth and delivery but maximize that by 1000% and pretend you are getting run over by a gigantic Mack truck crushing all of your bones slowly.  You will ponder if death is a more palatable alternative.

You will have countless side effects long after the treatment has commenced and your support teams have dispersed.  The emotions shift daily and as if on a roller coaster in the Marianas Trench.  The residual bone and joint pain makes you shuffle like a ninety year old.  The phantom striking pains in all of your surgical sites.  The fog brain.  Yes, you will not remember anything like you used to.  Words you know will be stuck…..somewhere… you try to complete your sentences.

Welcome, my friends, this….is……PINK.

In an effort, myself, to do better about the world of pink and to make the lives of my fellow cancer counterparts more comfortable, I had to find a way to ensure that change was being made.  I could not ask people for donations to support pink and not be able to tell them where their money was truly going.  With a passionate cancer advocate who has bulldozed change herself, we founded PINK Revolution Breast Cancer Alliance.  Our mission was to ensure that monies that come into our pink world actually go right back out in its entirety (yes, 100% of those monies – no skimmed fat executive salaries of these so-called NON-PROFITS; no operating expenses to cover extravagant five star hotel functions to “rally the troops”; no cents of the dollars actually coming back to the ultimate cause) to help patients you may very well know yourself. 

How can a woman try to fight for her life when she has no disability insurance and cannot work because of the aforementioned “side-effects” of chemotherapy and surgeries; and the assistance she is given through our local social programs is $27/month in food stamps?  Oh sure, what little she will try to eat given the projectile vomiting and constant nausea may amount to $27/month. 

Come on!  <Insert my most dramatic, sarcastic eye-roll right here!> 

Our world has become a fast and furiously paced place to live.  However, we are all humans and we all have the capacity to love one another and to help one another.  Let us bring back the human touch.  Let us take a moment from our busy lives to care for each other.  It truly does take a village, so let us bring that back.

Donations are immensely helpful and help PINK Revolution fund a number of necessities – from local research at UMass Memorial Medical School Research, to leading edge technology (one of five in the world sophisticated tomosynthesis (3D) machines for betting diagnostic imaging) at UMass Memorial Comprehensive Breast Center, to improved patient care and funding for items such as wigs, lymphedema sleeves, prosthetics and so much more.

Make your pink dollars count.  Know with confidence that your donation is making a huge difference in the life of a very real breast cancer warrior.  If you cannot make a donation, there are endless other ways to pay it forward:  make a meal for a family going through cancer treatment, give a patient a ride to their chemotherapy, mow their lawn, rake their leaves, watch their young children, clean their house and set the ripple of pervasive change in place for our future generations.
Let us all be passionately pink. 
Let us all be the start of pervasive change.

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