By Staff Writer
October has always been observed as Breast Cancer Awareness Month and I must confess I have never celebrated it until this year. A women’s meeting held on one October Saturday, whose proceedings had nothing to do with raising awareness of the said disease, changed my perspective.
Our dress code was pink, a colour used to mark the month, and this was in solidarity with survivors and those afflicted by the disease. At the event, nothing was said about the disease but the flood of colours and décor spoke volumes.
I was intrigued and began reading up on other people’s experiences. I have lost many people close to me to various cancers, breast cancer included. I have people close to me still dazed by the discovery of the life-threatening disease and some are in remission but it is not breast cancer.
So why breast cancer, why October, why pink?
One person diagnosed with cancer says she is divided between loving and hating Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
She points out how she hated the sexualisation of the breast cancer and says “It’s not just about breasts.”
She also hates being reminded of the disease. “I’m already aware and dislike the visual reminders of my own disease!” she says.
However, she says the month is a reminder for women (and men) to self-examine, get a mammogram or see the doctor about that “lump”.
And this she says is the good that comes out of the month: “awareness that it can be happening in your own body, not that it happens only to other people!”
That made a lot of sense.
Another person also diagnosed with breast cancer indicated: “If I could just be on a deserted island September through October, I would be happy. I am tired of people calling me a warrior or a survivor. It’s exhausting having to constantly explain I am terminal. The colour pink has become a colour I hate. I am tired of being made aware of something that 113 people die of daily. I know. I live it, and it doesn’t have a colour.”
On reading this I cringed. I cringed when yet another one said: “…there is nothing wrong with Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but the ‘awareness’ piece has gotten washed out and it doesn’t go deep enough into the disease. It barely skims the surface”.
According to the 2018 report of the World Cancer Research Fund, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women with over 2 million cases recorded already this year worldwide.
Ann Johnson, writing for Huffington Post, once said: “Breast cancer awareness should be prominent each and every day... I cannot wait for the day that a breast cancer diagnosis is not a death sentence but rather seen as a battle that will without a doubt end in remission”.
Cancer is indeed a reality and can affect any part of the body and we will never know the thoughts and minds of those who have suffered or are suffering or have been affected until they share their experiences. I do believe October or no October, pink or no pink, every new day is cause to celebrate life.