This month I celebrate surviving breast cancer twice - first in 1997 and a second time in 2020.
As I was taking a walk recently thinking about how not much had changed in the treatment of breast cancer all these years later (the protocols are still slash, burn and poison or surgery, radiation and chemo), I came upon a group of teenage boys who asked me to take a photo of them. Some were dressed in pink tutus and fuzzy pink slippers and I asked them why they were dressed that way. They told me it was for breast cancer awareness, of course.
After I took their photo, I continued to walk along the path with them for a little while and as I did I spoke about my experiences as a two-time breast cancer survivor.
I thanked them for their efforts and then asked them a big question, “Do you think that these days AWARENESS is still needed regarding breast cancer?”
I shared how I believe nearly everyone is very much aware of it and that if they really wanted to make an impact, I suggested that they not only talk to people about breast cancer awareness, but also advocacy and activism.
I suggested that whatever funds they were to raise be used to help those who are dealing with a diagnosis and all that may come with it including high medical bills, and loss of income, beyond just potentially losing their breasts and their hair.
I shared with them that as they walked around town making people aware that maybe they could ask people to help someone in their local community, maybe they could reach out to a survivor and see what the community could do to help support them.
I also talked about advocacy and activism - advocating for more research, better treatments and more prevention because honestly folks, we are all bodies of chemicals soup from things we are exposed to every day, and no one knows who the next cancer victim/victor may be.
And while genetics may also play a part for some of us, including myself and my family, we are the exception not the rule, as most breast cancers are NOT genetically linked.
When are we going to hold accountable the corporate polluters who are spewing out the chemicals that are making us sick in one way or another?
And don’t even get me started about many of these same corporate polluters then holding pinkwashing “breast cancer awareness” publicity campaigns! Really!?
When are we as a society going to move from awareness to action through advocacy and activism?
I left those young men with a lot to ponder about that day as they walked off together proud in their pink tutus.