You say you are tired of October and all the Pink Ribbons? You say you are relieved that November is finally here? Well, I hear you!
Yet, we should be grateful for the Pink Ribbons, despite their profuse, plastic tacky-ness, for they have accomplished their purpose: By now, everyone, I sincerely hope, is aware that one out of eight women WILL be diagnosed with Breast Cancer.
Yet, the pink bumper-stickers continue to puzzle and irritate me: “Save the Ta-Tas!”
Why are we still so silly about the word, “breasts?” I should not have to list the other euphemisms . . . and I will not.
That is one of the Problems With Pink.
“Save the Ta-Tas!” That is, indeed, an excellent idea: Women should learn how to do regular Breast Self-Examinations [BSE] and should submit to regular Mammograms. We should contribute to Breast Cancer Research.
However, the time to “Save the Ta-Tas” is now, before a Breast Cancer Diagnosis. The sober fact is that, once a woman receives a Breast Cancer Diagnosis, it may well be too late to “Save the Ta-Tas.”
After the diagnosis, we immediately shift the focus: “Save a Woman’s Life!”
A woman, faced with a Breast Cancer Diagnosis, is willing to give up both of her breasts, if necessary, to save her LIFE.
I will be honest here: The prospect, three years ago, of a bilateral mastectomy traumatized me. The surgery is daunting yet it pales, in comparison, to the ravages of chemotherapy.
The spectre of chemotherapy mortified me and it was, indeed, more terrifying than I could ever imagine.
After I survived the surgery and the chemotherapy, there remained very few things, of which I was afraid. I am certainly not afraid of facing my life without breasts. Before the surgery, my breasts did not define me. The loss of those breasts certainly will not define me now.
I have no Breast Reconstruction: My bust area is concave and my collar bones are now more prominent than the place of my incision scar. I can feel each one of my ribs. By touching my hand to my chest, I can feel my heart not merely beating — I can actually feel my heart pumping. [I mention these details to remind folks that not every woman is a candidate for Reconstructive Surgery.]
When I was going through chemotherapy, I received offers of make-up lessons and free samples. The good-hearted folks extending these offers assumed, perhaps, that my first waking thought in the morning was, “Am I going to feel pretty and girlish today?”
And that is another Problem With Pink.
I refused the offers — kindly, I hope. My first waking thought in the morning was, instead, “Am I going to survive chemotherapy today?” and “Will I live long enough to hold my second grandchild?”
I recently stumbled across a blog, written by a young woman, in which she listed her fears. Her top two fears? Wrinkles and grey hair. She was fearful of the inevitable aging process, against which she has absolutely no control.
I am more fortunate than that young woman: I know now what to fear and what not to fear.
I should not have to point out that some Breast Cancer Patients may not live long enough to enjoy the luxury of obsessing over their wrinkles and grey hair.
Now, can we stop being so silly about wrinkles and grey hair . . . and about the word, “breast?”
Can we now turn our attention to protecting the health of women and on saving the lives of women?
To focus on all things “pink and girly” and “the Ta Ta’s” is to view women as bifurcated beings. But we are integrated beings, endowed not only with bodies but also with intelligence, creativity, strength, wisdom, imagination, and a myriad of other gifts.
I have identified the problem and, in future blog entries, I will offer practical suggestions to women, on how we can protect the health of our breasts and how we can support and encourage the strong and heroic women among us: those battling Breast Cancer.