According to what we see in the media, all cancers look and feel the same. The reality is that no two cancers are the same. Even if cancers share the same name, we are all different. In this guest blog post, Rachel explains the need for real cancer awareness to break these cancer stereotypes.
Cancer. There is so much wrapped inside this one word, from fear to bravery. The emotions that accompany this word are too vast, too long to list. Any one that has been impacted by cancer knows simple truths: Cancer is a word of contradiction. As survivors, we are often told of our bravery or courage. Inside, we know that we are only doing what needs to be done. As the writer Anne Lammot once wrote, "Right foot, Left foot, breathe. Right foot, left foot, breathe."
We take each treatment, each side effect we take --- sometimes with white knuckles - but we take it. We smile when we can. Some of us use laughter as medicine. Some of us just want to hide. Some of us need an army of friends and families, while others want solitude. We share the same fears - a headache stops becoming just a headache. We suffer the anxiety of waiting for test results. We say the same silent prayers -please, please, please don't have anything light up on this scan.
But we are all different...
Sitting in any infusion center in any city, on any given day one might see the same person, stretched out, white medical blankets, juice boxes nearby. However, if you look closer, you will see an individual. One might be so cold, while the person next to her could be terribly hot. The girl across the hall could be able to tolerate ice cold drinks and foods because the mouth sores are increasingly painful, yet the man to her left might be able to drink hot drinks as his neuropathy won't allow him to sip anything below room temperature. We are all different. Our medicines are dosed for us specifically. The side effects are equally unique. Our cancers might share a name, but everything else is vastly different.
It grew from an image. It was the image of a sexy woman, sitting on the edge of the chair with only her back showing. Her bra (a sexy black lace one) was being tossed into the air. The words above the woman said,
"Set the ta-tas free. Oct 13 No Bra Day." A group of us were terribly offended for ourselves or on behalf of our wives, husbands, sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers and any loved one that had been diagnosed with breast cancer. In addition, this date, the 13th of October, is also the only day for metastatic breast cancer awareness. This image does not help. We asked each other, "How does this support breast cancer?"
The obvious answer is that it doesn't. Action is often created from anger. From this anger we created: Real Cancer Awareness. We decided to show what cancer really looks like. And decide that ALL cancers should have awareness for all twelve months. Our first action was to create the video: More Than Pink. To date we have had over 3,000 views. The Facebook page has over 500 followers. All of this was achieved within a week. The response from our friends and family proved to us that this is just the beginning of something special.
The goal of the Real Cancer Awareness is two-fold. First and foremost it's a forum for all that are impacted by cancer to be heard. Second: we will bring awareness to the, "pink washing and pink-nausea", disseminate important cancer news and highlight organizations that directly aid cancer patients and their families. Our goal is to be a constant reminder that cancer patients, and survivors, are more than one month, one color.
How are you going to raise real cancer awareness?