Today, October 13, is Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day. It’s one day during all the “festivities” of breast cancer awareness month which is dedicated to raising awareness of Metastatic disease, or METS.
But someone had the idea to overlay another day on the day. Someone had the idea to make today No Bra Day – supposedly to raise awareness of breast cancer. As if there is anyone in this country who is not aware by now that breast cancer exists. So instead of focusing on Metastatic Breast Cancer, MBC, people are posting pictures of young, bra-less babes (and a few are posting pics of their mastectomy scars).
A friend recently asked me to explain why I’m so angry about all the pink crap that has gotten associated with breast cancer. This, this is why I’m so angry.
Even if the organizers of No Bra Day had good intentions (and I seriously question that), it is hard to believe that anyone or any group could be so massively insensitive to the losses of those of us who have suffered from breast cancer. We are mutilated to save our lives. We are amputated. So I am angry to see a bunch of perky tits used to talk about my disease. It’s insulting, inappropriate, and puts the focus on exactly the wrong thing. So stop acting like a bunch of horny adolescents and grow up!
Any awareness of any disease ought to be about the lives of those who are affected.
And somehow, breast cancer seems to be the only cancer that gets this kind of prurient attention. I don’t see the same kind of inappropriate campaigns for lung cancer or testicular cancer. I can’t imagine anyone ever thinking it would be acceptable to start a campaign to raise awareness for childhood cancers by using the hashtag #noneedforbabysittersanymore! Because that would be outrageously insensitive.
So why does anyone think it’s OK to do something similar for breast cancer? And especially on the one day that’s set aside to focus on Metastatic Breast Cancer.
What is MBC? It’s breast cancer which has spread to other parts of the body. No one dies from cancer cells in breast tissue. They die when the cancer migrates to other, vital parts of the body. Once that happens, the cancer is incurable. Women (and men) with MBC can live many years, sometimes with a high quality of life, but their cancer can never be cured. Their treatments can only help to manage and slow their cancer. Typically, they’ll find a drug which is somewhat effective, and take that until their cancer cells find a way around the drug and it is no longer effective. Then they’ll try other drugs, searching for something else which will give them a little more time. In that way, they’ll work their way through the various drugs available, each time hoping that’s the drug that will stay effective.
Unfortunately, we don’t have a very good idea of who will become metastatic. Estimates are that 20-30% of people diagnosed with breast cancer, even early stage BC, will become metastatic. And we have little information of who that will be.
Which is why I’m tired of “awareness.” Which is why more money needs to be spent on research. Which is why I spend a lot of October feeling angry. Which is why I’ve been posting names every day of people I’ve known who have died from Metastatic Breast Cancer, and why the second half of the month will be names of people living with MBC. Because the focus needs to be on the women and men. Because breast cancer is not about tits. Because breast cancer is about lives. It is not fun. It is not sexy. It is not a joke.
If you’d like more information on MBC, please visit Metavivor.org, or check out #BCSM on Facebook or Twitter.