When I was diagnosed with a recurrence of cancer in March, I asked you to help me by signing up for the Avon / Love Army of Women and participating in research trials. Last month, I again urged BlogHer readers to “join the Army of Women fighting breast cancer by signing up for emails about future studies, and participating in easy, online studies or studies in your hometown when something applies to you — and to blog about your decision, asking your readers to as well.”
Today, the first day of what some activists call “pink-tober,” I should be asking again. I fully intended to write a strong, passionate post today about the importance of research in the long fight against all the malfunctions that we call cancer. It is important. You know that. Research is the only thing that will help us understand what causes and what will treat cancer, in all its many forms.
But today, I’m too tired to hype it, cheerily proclaiming “October is breast cancer awareness month! Check yourself! Call your doctor! Schedule a mammogram (if you’re over 40 or have breast cancer risk factors, like family members who have been diagnosed)! ” as if it’s a happy month, a thing to celebrate.
And in all honesty? Today I’m a little preoccupied.
I’m tired, and it’s almost time for the nap I need each afternoon, as my body fights the tiny cancer cells that surely lurk in my body, even after surgery and radiation.
My feet hurt, from the blisters on the bottom caused by the chemotherapy leaking out of my body, gram by gram.
I’m too nauseated to nibble on pink candy, pink gum, and such, even if it’s “for the cause!” and wrapped in a cheery pink ribbon.
I’m too weak from the treatment to jog in cheery pink ribboned shoes or socks or pullovers or even the pink survivor t-shirts from all the races I’ve supported.
My lymphedema has flared up and my physical therapist has warned me against pushing even a pink vacuum, no matter where the proceeds go.
I’m so tired, and I need to relax, but tonight I dread turning on the tv and seeing the plethora of pinkness in this month’s ads. Save yogurt lids. Buy pink. Click here. Like that. Buy something else, and someone, somewhere, will donate a dime, a dollar, something to “the cause” that is breast cancer research.
Yes, donating is grand. But please, think before you pink. Know where the donations will go, and how much of each purchase actually makes it to research. If the pink labeled cookies cost 50 cents more than the regular ones, and the company only donates 5 cents per box, stop, think, and send the 50 cents (or more) to the cancer society of your choice when you get home. If the pink-labeled candy causes you to gain weight, stop, don’t buy it. Go for a walk instead, and nosh on carrot sticks for snack, reducing risk of obesity-related cancers. If the chicken place will donate a buck when you buy a bucket of fat- and grease-laden extra crispys, stop. Eat a 5 oz piece of grilled chicken at home, and use the buck to support a friend in a race for the cure. Write about your decisions, about how you’re deciding to choose you and work to prevent cancer in real ways, rather than blindly buying crap just because it has a pink ribbon and it makes you feel like you’re making a difference. Instead, let’s decide to make a difference, and realize that there are many, many ways to make a difference in the fight against cancer.
I’m sorry if this comes off as rant-y. I’m a little preoccupied. I’ve been up since 4 a.m. worried about whether I’ll be healthy enough to restart chemo on Monday. Worried about whether the chemo is working. Worried about this lump that appeared just above my scar last week, and which is getting steadily bigger.
All I want is for cancer to go away, and for there to be no more need for the world to turn pink in October.
Edited to add: Unfortunately, wishing like this doesn’t make cancer go away. Research does. Please join the fight by signing up to participate in research, whether you’re a survivor or not — research needs you. I need you. There aren’t enough people volunteering for studies, and we can’t wait any longer. Join the Army of Women and make a difference in the lives of those who have cancer — and those who never want to get it. Come back and let me know that you’ve signed up and/or written about this opportunity to help research, and I’ll do a round-up post and link to whatever you want. Your blog, your business, your etsy shop, your political campaign. Whatever. I’ll do anything to move the research a little further, a little faster. (My life depends on it.)