Archive | January 2012

Changing The Pink Ribbon View

I do not believe things happen by mistake. I believe there is a purpose in everything. One of my very dear breast cancer sisters here (our kids did theater together at the same high school while I was in treatment), inspired, encouraged and cheered me on to better health and to hopeful living these last 3 years. She is dynamic and influential and it just so happens she has connections both political and in the cancer community in the D.C. area. She is a lobbiest and advocate with ACS Cancer Action Network. She is also an events public affairs marketing specialist.

Well, a couple of months ago she took her theater major daughter to NYC for college auditions. While she was up there, a fellow blog friend of mine posted a note about The SCAR Project exhibit in NYC. I texted my friend and told her she should go try and see it while she was there with her daughter. Well, long story short, she did, and she spoke with the photographer who happened to be there that day and she is now going to produce the exhibit here in our Nation’s capitol during the first week of breast cancer awareness month Oct. 1-7, one month before a very important Presidential election in which health care coverages and cancer research funding will be battle ground topics.
Next thing I know, my very good friend who just happens to be wheel chair bound with Cerebral Palsy, was photographed for the project last month! Once again, the project is able to display women from all walks of life and that this disease does not discriminate.  I have been asked to be on the planning committee bringing the project here to D.C.  and so have been part of some of the discussions with other participants and their stories which are very moving. I challenge you to go to the link (click the photo) and view the photos, but I will warn you they are graphic, but not pornographic. They may grip you in ways you hadn’t expected. It may feel “in your face” with its raw truth,  but that is the type of awareness necessary to dispell some of the pink-washing that has blinded us to the realities experienced through this disease. Each portrait is moving and tells a story in its own way. Each is unique like every survivor is. The photo of a woman who has her face disfigured was diagnosed and died at age 25 last summer because the breast cancer had metastasized to her jaw bone and finally her brain. Some of the women have had reconstruction, some have not. Something these photos cannot explain is that even a reconstructed breast has no feeling, no sensation, and as real as it may appear, the numbness is a lifelong sentence in the aftermath of most plastic surgery procedures after cancer.

The bottom line is this: Breast Cancer and all it’s pink ribbon marketing and merchandising and funding has been with us for 30 years and yet treatments are still sadly lacking for young women being diagnosed and losing their lives to the disease. In the process they (we) are being maimed in the process, some losing their fertility, and people still view breast cancer as a pink ribbon. The “tag” line of the SCAR project is Breast Cancer Is Not A Pink Ribbon. This exhibit, DVD, book, reveal breast cancer for what it really does to women. More and more frequently it is YOUNG women, under age 40. This project predominantly features women ages 18 – 35. You can see more at The Scar Project’s Web Site and I hope you will share with your family and friends. It’s time to stop kidding ourselves and being prudish in this society about what breast cancer is. It isn’t sexy. It isn’t sexual. These are women’s lives we are talking about and it’s time people start viewing it differently so that we can bring about CHANGE in this country to fund research for a cure!