Thank you to Leisha Davison-Yasol for penning an essay that inspired me to finally voice my opinion on this topic.
It’s near the end of October – a month during which football teams don lurid, pink accoutrements, that generally clash in the tackiest of ways with their uniforms, stores cash in on various pink, breast cancer-supporting memorabilia, women free their ta-tas from the constraints of their brassieres, and Facebook is rife with breast-related gimmicks.
I usually keep quiet during this month. My mommy underwent heinous, disfiguring surgeries to rid her of her breast cancer several years ago, and even though she’s considered “in remission” now, the pain, discomfort, nausea, infections, edema and psychological damage resulting from invasive surgeries and chemo remain.
I don’t like October. It’s not that I don’t appreciate people trying to be supportive, but frankly the crass commercialism, breast-related games, and ham-handed puns and stunts are more than irritating. They’ve become offensive.
For the record, I don’t see how flaunting the fact that you’re not wearing a bra today, or making people guess what color bra you have on to hold up your two healthy breasts is in any way supportive of women – and men, by the way – who have lost theirs.
For the record, I don’t see how forcing the Seattle Seahawks to don bright pink accents, making them look like the awkward spawn of a Smurf and Strawberry Shortcake from a drunken bar hook-up (thanks to my buddy Rick for that visual) helps women with cancer.
For the record, I don’t see how buying coffee mugs made in China, with pink ribbons on them for a few more bucks, so that the store, the coffee cup manufacturer, promoter, etc. make an extra profit, while donating MAYBE 1 percent to breast cancer research – if that – helps the devastation caused by cancer.
I just don’t see it.
I was there, in my mom’s hospital room after the initial surgery was over. I helped her to the bathroom. I talked to her when she woke up from the anesthesia. But when my mom was undergoing chemo and recovering from her surgeries, I was frightened. The kids were frightened. I freaked out to such a degree, that I could barely be in the same room with her at times. I was afraid to infect her with something, because her system was so immuno-compromised. I was afraid to touch her or hug her, because I thought I would hurt something. But most of all, I was reminded, horribly, of her mortality and that reminder of the fact that I could lose my mom, forced me to a distance.
I was wrong, and I eventually got over it. I talked to her, and we visited, and eventually, the horror of the possibility of losing her subsided.
But not once, did I think jumping around without my bra on to show my “support” was a good idea!
And not once, did I consider putting on pink, buying a pink Coach bag, which cost more than my grocery budget for a damn month, while putting extra money in the pockets of the already profitable company, or wearing a stupid ribbon to “support” my mom a good idea.
What supported her was her family.
My dad taking her to doctors, holding her while she got physically sick after chemo, and talking to her when she needed to vent.
Our visits. Seeing the kids.
Phone calls. Conversations. My dad’s extra trips to the grocery store to get her something she craved on that particular day just to see her eat something without getting sick.
Mine being the first face she saw after waking up from anesthesia.
Helping her walk a little at a time, as her bruised and battered body healed.
That’s what supported her. Stupid pink ribbons and pink NFL towels be damned!
I don’t want to disparage those of you who get that little boost from displaying your pink Coach bag or your lapel ribbon as a sign of your solidarity with those who have suffered cancer… well… yeah, I do.
It’s not about ribbons. It’s not about pink ties, shoes, towels and car magnets. And it’s certainly not about jiggling your healthy ta-tas in public while others are no longer able to do so. So just stop it.
I’ve had close friends who have had to deal with cancer at different stages recently – young, vibrant men and women, whose lives are indelibly changed by this disease.
It’s not just breast cancer.
It’s cervical cancer. It’s prostate cancer. It’s endometrial cancer. It’s lung cancer. It’s cancerous brain tumors.
All these heinous diseases deserve your attention and support, and not in the form of ribbons!
Talk to your friends and family. Be there for them. Take their calls at 3am. Visit them in the hospital. Bring them chocolate and movies and bottled water and other goodies. Hug them without being afraid. Be bold and brave, and don’t avoid the conversation. Take your kids to see them, and teach your kids to support their loved ones through your actions, and not through pink accents on an NFL uniform.
And ferfuckssake, PUT AWAY YOUR TITS!