I learned a new term today that really stuck with me. Pinkwashing. This idea that the “awareness” around breast cancer and “finding a cure” has increased exponentially over the past 10+ years. Pinktober, race for a cure, bike for a cure, etc… So much awareness and celebration of survivors of breast cancer. Enough to make you think we are winning this fight. That less women are dying from breast cancer. It’s certainly what I thought! I was so proud to walk in the sea of pink every year celebrating how far we have come to find a cure.
Even hope scarves, the organization I started, focuses mainly on survival. We celebrate beating cancer. Surviving! Not death. We didn’t talk about this part of cancer. The dying. But, now I do.
The reality is staggeringly different from the cheers of triumph that ring loud and clear in the pinkness.
Breast cancer kills. This week I learned of 5 young women (through the breast cancer community) – all moms with big hopes and dreams that were taken from their families by this evil disease. The smiling pictures of them with their kids is heart wrenching to me. It’s like looking in a mirror.
While I celebrate survivors and hope- I am also painfully aware that this is serious. We need more than ribbons and pink tiaras. We need research and a cure! Did you know:
1. Metastatic breast cancer is the leading cause of women 35-55
2. 155,000 women are living with metastatic breast cancer
3. 40,000 women will die this year from metastatic breast cancer. A statistic that hasn’t changed much in 30 years. (I find this appalling) Cancer within the breast is not fatal. It is only when it metastasizes that it kills.
4. The average length of survival of metastatic breast cancer is 3 years.
5. Early detection does not = cure. (I was originally diagnosed stage 2) any stage of breast cancer can metastasize. 20- 30% of early stage breast cancer patients will experience metastasis.
6. Only 2% of breast cancer funding goes to research to help stop this disease from killing women. The majority of funding goes to “awareness” and early detection programs.
Come on people! We have got to find a way to slow this disease or stop it all together. I have a lot of living left to do. I do not want to die from this disease. But, that is my reality. A reality I hope we can change through science, research and working together. So that young girls don’t face the same disease I have to face. That other families aren’t torn apart by this evil disease.
I am thankful for komen and other organizations that raise awareness about breast cancer. I just think we need to be doing so much more for the metastatic community. The women who are forever fighters of this disease. Facing each day knowing their is no cure for them. These women (myself included) and their families need more than ribbons and tiaras. We need research and a collaborative effort to really “find a cure”… Not just sling this saying around like a pink boa.
I will now step off my soap box. Thank you. Good night…