Sometimes the best of intentions creates controversy. What starts and even succeeds at being good can inflict a prickly feeling of not-so-good for some. It seems Breast Cancer Awareness, at least the massive amount of recognition it receives, is a bone of contention for some. As with most debatable topics, I find myself riding the fence on this one. Not that I'm passive. Not at all. But I do understand and appreciate differing opinions. I also get there is usually a justifiable reason for the controversy. At least in this situation.
Cancer is horrid. Whether it be breast cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer, brain cancer...well known cancers or cancers we have never heard of and could probably not even pronounce...they all suck BIG time. All need to be obliterated. All are evil. All blow.
That is my opinion. And I'm sure I would receive a heart "Amen" as everyone would have to agree.
I also am of the opinion awareness and funding for research of any form of cancer should be a priority.
Because they ALL matter.
So when someone shared frustrations over the fact breast cancer reigns as a center stage diva in the tragedy/horror show call "Cancer Sucks", I understood. This person was battling another form of cancer. A cancer that is listed in fine print on the playbill, giving the appearance it is more of an understudy to breast cancer. And it isn't fair. She was fighting an equally evil enemy. Why should her cancer be upstaged by a pink bitch who wants to steal the show?
After hearing her comments, I spent a great deal of time thinking about her reaction. A part of me went on the defensive. But a bigger part of me felt her pain. Knowing I'm on team "diva" almost made me feel guilty. I'm one of the lucky ones (if there is such a thing when talking disease) whose cancer is a headliner and recognized. Even professional athletes sport "pink" during October. Speaking of which, we pink people even have our own month dedicated to our plight. All this leaves her questioning if we (breast cancer sisters) are more important.
Of course the answer to that is NO...an emphatic NO!
I've spent a lot of time thinking about this...about why breast cancer receives so much recognition. The obvious answer is that it is so prevalent. One in 8 women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. And that doesn't include the men who are diagnosed. Yes, men can also fall victim to breast cancer. Besides skin cancer, it is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among American women. If for no other reason, breast cancer is in the spotlight because it is literally something most everyone experiences in some way. If questioned, we could all think of someone we know, most likely many "someones" we know, who have been dealt the breast cancer card. It gets exposure because it is "popular"...in an totally unpopular way.
Because of all the recognition and massive amounts of money being directed toward breast cancer research, many lives are being saved. I am one such saved soul. Were it not for the discovery of a drug called Herceptin, my prognosis would have been the worst of the worst. I even participated in a study to improve Herceptin's effectiveness toward aggressive breast cancer. My results were beyond good. And I'm beyond grateful for the time, money and attention given to making this life-saver an option for me.
I don't want to feel guilty for doing my part to spread the word about breast cancer. I don't want to feel I'm hurting another by trying to help many more.
But I do...with every fiber of my being...believe they all matter. Not just "all" cancers...all cancer victims.
I don't plan to take the spotlight away from the pink lady, I just think she should move over and share the stage. There is more than enough room. And if we do things right, my hope is that one day they will all be upstaged by a new show called "Cancer No More".