October just rolled around which means the sea of pink is winding up. Women, men and kids all around Australia have fundraised their little hearts out raising dollars and awareness for their various breast cancer charities…they were making a difference. I’ve heard various media take a pot shot or two at breast cancer fundraising in the past, describing it as ‘pink fatigue’, lamenting how other cancers ‘miss out’ and even describing breast cancer as ‘the pretty cancer’.
Yeah right, that journalist can fuck right off! The scars on my body aren’t pretty, losing ALL my body hair wasn’t pretty, stacking on 30 kilos through treatment…nope not pretty. Diarrhoea, vomiting, ulcers, losing my breasts, nails falling off, thin pasty skin, bruises all over my stomach from injections ALL NOT PRETTY!
Here’s the thing, in Australia over 15 000 women this year will receive a breast cancer diagnosis, 15 000 women with families and friends will go through either surgery, treatment or both…sadly some will leave this earth too early. Their loved ones and communities will witness their awful treatment, and see their lopsided or vacant chests, yeah we can’t hide. We’re walking around with drains dangling, support pillows, maybe a port protruding from our chest, skinhead domes, no brows, the tell tale bloat of steroids…it’s all on show.
My treatment went for a year and still continues in various forms, over that year I still had to get my kids to school, do the groceries, attend functions etc, so yeah I was visible. Breast cancer is visible and affects women and men of all ages, across all walks of life and touches so many in our community.
Breast cancer wasn’t always so public, not so long ago it was spoken about in hushed tones, surgery was cruel and treatment limited. Women silently endured treatment and surgeries and sometimes their husbands weren’t even privy to the details…a bit like childbirth back in the day. But thankfully there has been progress and women have spoken up, stood up and done their bit.
Yeah they endorse products, back campaigns, speak publicly and this has led to raised awareness. When women found their voice it changed the landscape of how we look at cancer… all cancers. Now we talk publicly about boobs, balls and bowels, granted some cancers are a little under the radar in the public arena but their time will come. All the dollars, research and awareness is helping all cancers in some way.
I started fundraising just weeks after I was diagnosed, I could have sat back and let someone else do it and not be bothered but I needed to make a difference. If I was going to leave this world early I need to leave my mark so I fundraised, spoke openly and honestly about my cancer experience and started writing publicly.
I’ll let you in on a little secret, this all helped me as much as it helped others. It helped empty my head of jumbled thoughts, cleared my spirit of feelings that would not serve me well and brought me joy when I saw I was making a difference. To date I’ve written hundreds of posts, done public speaking, done ambassador work, been on the T.V., done radio interviews, mentored women and raised a smidge over $20 000 for various breast cancer organizations. I’m pretty proud of all that, especially as I did all this while going through treatment because I wanted to make a difference, I needed to make a difference and I know I have.
When you see a pink pen, pink pin or pink whatever for sale please don’t go down the path that some journalists have bashing the sea of pink. Please know that dollars raised make a difference, and more importantly the awareness that’s raised saves lives…maybe the life of someone you care for.
Women and men still die every day from breast cancer…every day. I would love to see in my lifetime ( however long that is) a statistic report that says zero deaths from breast cancer… god I wanna see that!