Breast cancer awareness month is upon us. As defined by Wikipedia:
Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM) (also referred to in America as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM)) is an annual international health campaign organized by major breast cancer charities every October to increase awareness of the disease and to raise funds for research into its cause, prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure. The campaign also offers information and support to those affected by breast cancer.
As well as providing a platform for breast cancer charities to raise awareness of their work and of the disease, BCAM is also a prime opportunity to remind women to be breast aware for earlier detection.
Ok now I am undoubtedly going to piss a bunch of people off. This month should indeed be about awareness, education, and empowerment, but it seems to have become so commercial. As I said in my article featured in The Main Line Times (and now picked up by The Delco Times and many thanks to that editor Phil Heron for his kindness), it’s not just about the pink rubber bracelets.
I am also tired of people who think Susan G. Komen is the only breast cancer charity out there. They aren’t. In my area alone, there are a bunch of really decent folks getting the word and help out there to breast cancer gals – BreastCancer.org , Living Beyond Breast Cancer, Save 2nd Base.
I am feeling bombarded by the media now as Breast Cancer Awareness Month is nigh, but as an age group this year I am feeling left out. I feel that they have the hyper-focus on the young who are diagnosed and treated and the much older. I am part of the Malcolm in the Middle set. I am in my mid forties, and where are the stories about women like me? I am not in my 20’s, and while I sooo feel for those women dealing with this at any age, I have a whole different set of emotions and life experiences too.
I am the woman in between stages in her life and I don’t feel represented. And I don’t feel I should have to don pink everything every day to do so.
I am one of those women who did not have an employer who offers benefits. I pay my own healthcare. I also did this without short-term disability, am a hole in FMLA. I do not have vacation or sick days. And I am a white-collar worker. In English that means I had to make up any time I took, which means I did not really take any time off. And I am resentful of a country that doesn’t realize there are millions like me out there. Politicians twaddle on about what they are going to do for people just like me….especially during election time.
Take Obama, for example. He is in Ohio today to twaddle about a jobs bill – like his late great healthcare babble it will be something else that won’t help average people like me. It’s just a political stunt like the fact he will do part of his schtick on a dangerous bridge that needs to be replaced – hate to break it to him but we have a bunch of those around here too. And as he revvs it up to try to say four more years, idiots like Sarah Palin also surface once again. She’s another one who won’t ever do a thing for someone like me. We need folks who will actually fix, not politicize both the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries.
Some are going to say I sound sour today. I am not. I am however a realist, and this is part of what I think about now – not just staying positive and keeping my cancer kicked to the curb, but also seeing how media portrays us gals taking care of the girls, healthcare issues, societal issues, and commercialism of the issue via all the stuff they try to sell us every October — this is why I appreciate Main Line Times Flair Editor Caroline O’Halloran for giving me the space to write about my experience – I am just one of the millions of women dealing with this. I am just an average woman experiencing it in face it – middle age. I am not a perfect size 2 who drives the perfect car and lives in the big house – I am just me. Damn proud of that fact, but also grateful to have a voice here (if it does any good, I really don’t know.)
I want to thank Good Housekeeping Magazine for a statistic they printed based on a British study in their October issue (page 49):
STAY THE COURSE: After treatment for early, estrogen-positive breast cancer, there’s a payoff for sticking with tamoxifen for a full five years, a British study has found. 17% fewer recurrences and 30% fewer cancers in the other breast over the next decade. Bonus benefits for women in their 50s: 35% fewer heart attacks and strokes
And ending with a shout out to a nice woman in Central PA named Marjie. She is a writer, blogger, and 26-year-old survivor….also planning her wedding through this process. She writes at Pink and Pearls and her story has been featured by Lifetime . her blog is awesome, so give it a read.
Winding up today is a reminder even to myself exactly how much of a process this is. But I am alive and was given a second chance at life in essence. And I thank god every day for that.
And I have a song on the brain today…Five for Fighting’s Chances Are