Encore with Updates: Think Pink or See Red

By wishuponacupcake [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Last year I posted this. It was my inspiration for starting the Cause Warriors series.  It bears repeating.  Heather is still here surviving with weekly chemo and struggling with the pain of living with cancer.  Read her own amazing post here.  One thing that has changed since last year is that my backlash  circa 2011, seems to be popular in 2012.  That’s probably attributable to the whole Komen/PP fiasco of earlier this year, but awareness of misdirected funds and questionable intentions is never a bad thing.  

Heather provided the links at the bottom of the page. These are places making a real difference in fighting breast cancer.  I hope you’ll support them. I plan to choose one or two for giving next month when my company does their matching donation. 

Finally, something I didn’t think to share last year . . . I don’t know why, but it didn’t occur to me.  Jim’s mom and aunt carry the BRAC gene, I think two.  I’m not sure, we have a paper around here that is a reminder to Jim to get tested.  His grandma died of ovarian cancer when she was far younger than we are now.  Moira is named after her; her name was Mary and Moira is a tribute name.  The truth is, Moira might have inherited that gene from her namesake. . . something to think about, my eight year old daughter who could one day face this disease, whose odds are terribly amplified gene or not.  It’s not just about the women we’ve lost, the women fighting, but also the little girls who may one day be immune to pink and engrossed with the blackness of cancer.  I’ve already had one child fighting a terminal illness. I cannot bear the thought of the other doing the same.  Breast Cancer is not not pretty, it’s not pink, and it’s not sweet.  Are we seeing red yet?  And now, the encore:

Want to know something about me?  Oh, I’ll tell you anyway!  It takes a lot to make me angry.  My kids know this, and they know when I’m really mad, I mean business.  So here’s something that makes me really, Mr. McGee, you wouldn’t like me,  angry.    I learned a couple of years ago that many companies use pink in October not to underwrite breast cancer research, but to get people to buy their stuff because people care about breast cancer.

Sure they give 1-5% to “Awareness,” but as our shops, websites, and grocery store check-out line is full of pink merchandise for an entire month, I hardly think there’s a person with two eyes who dwells above the rocks that is unaware of breast cancer.  Additionally, there are some companies that give NOTHING at all, and those are just scams.  That’s sick and wrong, but it’s easy with the great pink wave that hits every October.

But, I’ve been aware of breast cancer since  I was eleven  years old when one of our best family friends was going through chemo.  Donna was like an aunt to us, and  I was highly aware of this terrible disease when she died  in her mid thirties and left two little girls behind.  Breast cancer cast a non-pink shadow in my life again two years later when our church secretary Doris (a woman who bought the eighth graders donuts when we helped her stuff bulletins for church) also died.  Then one of my Sunday School teachers, Joanne,  died from breast cancer when I was in my twenties.  Real people I knew in my real life died of a really ugly disease.  It was black, not pink.

My “awareness” was pretty well set by the time Jim’s mom was diagnosed a couple of years ago.  Explaining to my kids why Grandma lost her hair was hard when they knew that my dad had died of cancer.  Cancer is scary.  Cancer SUCKS – we’re all aware of that.  I was aware enough to get a mammogram earlier this year when I had a large lump.  Turn s out it was just a hormonal knot (YAY), but aware I am.   Aren’t we all highly aware?

What I want now is not awareness for breast cancer but a cure for it.  Which brings me to my friend/hero Heather, mom to four little girls, who beat breast cancer in the first episode of her cancer horror story. Now the villain is back for the sequel.  That’s the thing about cancer, even if you get rid of it, just like that bastard Freddy Kruger,  it can come back.

Heather and I are kindred spirits.  We’re both writers and moms, and we are fighters.  We fight different diseases; she’s on the battlefields of cancer and I’m combating CHD.  Her war in on the domestic front of her own body and mine is running supply lines to my child.  But we both fight these terrible diseases not just as patients or caregivers but as advocates for getting it right.

Heather doesn’t want you to be “aware” of breast cancer as I think we’ve already covered that.  She wants a cure.  She NEEDS A CURE! Cancer’s got its nasty claws out and she is still to fighting for her life AGAIN.  Heather  doesn’t think pink, she thinks we need to focus on a cure for cancer.  Heather wants to stick around and live another thirty-eight years.  She deserves to win this war.  So, in honor of Heather, and Karen, and Donna, and Doris, and Jenny, and Amy and the millions of other women who need more than your purchase of a pink Kitchen Aid mixer or Chi hair straightener.  So buy the store brands this October, save your pennies and make a donation to one of these great organizations and boom – you made money actually go to research.  Yay you! You fought cancer without buying a single pink thing.

And when you’re tempted to buy something pink,  instead send a check to a research institute (see below and notice who’s  – cough-cough-Komen -missing because they mostly fund awareness and not nearly enough research). Then wear your pink in a rosy glow knowing you’re helping more than corporate sales,  you’re helping fund a cure.

Breast Cancer Research Foundation

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center

The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

The Johns Hopkins Avon Foundation Breast Center

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