Friday, September 30, 2011

Let the Pink Parade Begin

This afternoon, I went to lunch with a few friends. We didn't even get in the door of Panera Bread before being greeted with a pink ribbon - via a sign that let us know all the proceeds from the day's purchases of pink food products would be donated to some sort of generic Breast Cancer organization. How much, what organization, where in the organization (for awareness, education or cure) were not even mentioned. So I asked the manager.

Of course he had no idea, he just regurgitated the few sentences that were probably on the memo he received from corporate last week. When I pressed him for specifics, he admitted he didn't know and directed me to the company's website which "should have all that information," he said.

And of course it did not. Not a word about it - not a pink ribbon or a mention that tomorrow - October 1 - even kicks off BC Awareness Month. So of course I hit the "Contact Us" tab and left a small book about the nature of my problem and why it just ain't cool to pink wash. Maybe they'll respond, maybe they won't. I'll keep you posted...

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Very BIG Business of Breast Cancer

Many of my friends and family know how the site of pink batteries, M&Ms, oven mitts and vacuum cleaners can send me into an absolute frenzy. They get how the parade of silly pink products that happens every year about this time - all in the name of breast cancer awareness month in October - pisses me off to no end. They understand that I have issues with how money is raised and where it doesn't go because I've told them (OK - ranted) about it endlessly. They also know that the mention of Susan G. Komen "For the Cure" makes my eyes narrow and my eyebrows nit really close together - but still, they love me :-)

I've been tweeting and FaceBooking about it, but every once in a while, I need help getting the message out. So I'm grateful to Marie Clare for writing an amazing article detailing why we should all think before we pink. Please give it a read and share the link with your family and friends!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Seriously - How Hard Could It Be to Find a Cure?

Tomorrow morning, a friend will be heading in for a biopsy for calcifications that showed up today on her annual mammogram four years after her original diagnosis - this less than a week after a mutual friend of ours died of brain mets. My mom died of brain mets in 1992. Can't tell you how much I hate cancer today...

Now just think for a moment about all the walks and races that have been held and the silly array of pink products have been sold since my mother's original diagnosis in 1988. Seriously - are we any closer to a cure today than we were 19 years ago?

Enough of the bullshit. Enough of the pink perfumes and the beautification of breast cancer - because it's really far from cute, feminine or pleasing to the olfactory system (and anyone who's ever battled this beast or stood beside someone who has can attest to that). Enough ribbons and batteries and baseball gloves and vacuum cleaners already - a CURE is what we really need.

Sure, BC probably gets more attention and funds than any other cancer, yet mothers, sisters, grandmothers, aunts, friends, neighbors and co-workers die every day from it. There's something wrong with that picture.

And I don't want to hear about how multi-faceted BC is. Yep - there are lots of different types of breast cancers - I get that. But freaking pick one already and start there. I don't understand how difficult that is, I really don't.

So I logged onto Susan G. Komen's site to find out if they could help me understand it a little better. I saw from their little pink pie chart that only 25% of what they take in each year is actually allocated for "research and awards" (the "awards" part is supposed to be to local programs that aim to help women, so even less than that actually ends up in the "research" pot, it seems). But a combined 51% for "education" and "screening"? Important, true - but more important than researching a cure? Hmmmm...

And of course, the survivor in me hears a ticking clock somewhere off in the distance. If I ever have a recurrence or a new primary cancer, will there be much more hope than there is now that a cure will be found before I run out of time and treatment options?

I just wish I had more middle fingers to flip at breast cancer and all the bull that goes along with it. Rest in peace, Elizabeth B.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Wardrobe FAIL

For those who don't know, I am a martial artist who spends way too much time in a karate uniform/sweatpants and a tank top to train/teach or when I head to the gym for a date with my old nemesis, the treadmill. As a result, when I do get the chance to dress up in real, live, girl clothes, I usually jump at it.

Last night, opportunity knocked. A black-tie scholarship/awards diner was held in NYC for a karate organization our dojo frequents. Wow - an occasion to wear a swanky dress, cute heels and a little blingy jewelry? I'm there! And thus, my dress hunt began.

The problem was the 3/4-inch wide divot to the right of my sternum left from the removal of a rib during my breast reconstruction. Anything I found that was swanky enough was cut just low enough in the cleavage area that my divot was on display. Just. Great.

But eventually, I found not one but TWO gorgeous dresses for the event. The first was a simple but elegant sleeveless black tea-length dress with a high bodice (just under the bra-line). It crossed in a "V" in the front which made only the corner of the divot visible. The other was an amazing sleeveless/backless wonder that was almost ankle-length. Long, scarf-like pieces of fabric extended from the drop waist to cover my boobs. The idea was to tie them at the neck and let them hang down the back to flow oh-so-gracefully behind me as I entered and exited the room. Dress #2 was HOT! And the divot wasn't a problem because the fabric was wide enough to cover it while still letting a little bit of skin peek through. Wearing a bra was not an option because the back was completely out. Only a very low-riding corset-type bra would have had any chance of not bring seen from behind and I wasn't able to find one that dipped all the way to my waist.

When I stood posing in the mirror with my arms to my side, all was well. But as soon as I moved my arm forward a few inches or above my waist, too much skin was visible on profile - and that skin included the edges of the scars from my IGAP. Hmmm...that could potentially made cutting the dinner chicken I'd be eating, bringing a fork to my mouth to chew it or especially the "throw-my-hands-in-the-air-and-waving-'em-like-I-just-don't-care" dancing I was planning after dinner out of the question.

So off I went to find some kind of under-dress solution. Thought I had my answer with a mini-corset bra that had no back but stuck to the body about mid-way between the armpit and elbow with some kind of re-usable adhesive. I was game to give it a try, but I could only find it in "nude" - which is a euphemism for "day-glow" on a brown girl like me. Grrrr...

Eventually I found and bought invisible two-sided tape designed to stick to the sides of fabric and skin to hold the dress in place, but it only stuck to the dress and not me. $10 totally down the drain...

With the departure time for the event getting closer and me still with hair and makeup to do, I finally changed into dress #1 at the very last minute. Yeah, I looked great (not tooting my own horn here, just sayin'), but what an exercise in futility and frustration...

Wardrobe issues. I know it's a very minor blip in the grand scheme of things, but sometimes, it can feel like a very big THING - and yet another gift that keeps on giving from the cancer gods.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

What We Don't Hear About Awareness

Breast Cancer awareness and education programs have always pissed me off. Fellow blogger Anna Rachnel's "What Do You Want?" post explains why better than I ever could.

We love you, Anna!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Komen Rots...

Been writing that a lot lately - mostly in response to other folks' links about Susan G. Komen for the cure (that's their official name) and their battle to trademark the "for the cure" part of their moniker. (read more about that here). Seems to me like they've totally lost focus about what the fight to eradicate breast cancer is all about.

For the record, I've never been a big fan of Komen. I applaud them for bringing breast cancer to the top of the cancer pile, but it doesn't end with awareness and pink ribbons. They raise gobs of money via their races, walks and product donations, but still, 40,000 women died last year from breast cancer. Each October, it gets harder and harder to walk through the store without getting pretty ticked off about all the pink ribbons on things like cookies, batteries, pens and clothing. Companies, it seems, have figured out that if they slap a pink ribbon on their label and mention in teeny five-point type that a "portion" of their proceeds from the product's sale will go to Komen, they will make a mint. They make a million, donate $10K to Komen who lumps it into their generic "research and education" pile and no one is the wiser, right?

But what the heck research is Komen funding? Treatment for women who have been diagnosed or ways to end BC forever? Both are important, but they are two totally different things. Spend more funding dollars on research for the cure and nobody would even need treatment.

Blogger Anna Rachnel breaks down how the money is spent in her recent "Komen by the Numbers" post. A former public accountant before being diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer, she crunches the numbers and gives a very clear picture on how little of Komen's funds have actually ended up in that "research" pile since the organization was founded in 1982. Shocking, to say the least, but not surprising.

My fear has always been that Komen would become THE face of BC fund-raising and other organizations like the National Breast Cancer Coalition, the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute would get pushed aside while their donations get smaller and smaller. If Komen's trademark attempts are successful, I could totally see that happening.

Know that there are lots of survivors, relatives of survivors and even relatives of lost warriors who are not at all happy with how you do what you do, Komen. Know that we're watching you and blogging about your shenanigans as well. You really ought to be ashamed of what you're doing, but I suspect you aren't.

In that case, you really do rot.