Two years ago today I shaved my head on National television in solidarity with many who were facing the diagnosis of Breast Cancer & the journey towards remission. I was also in the middle of chemotherapy at the time, so my baldness was inevitable. I wanted to say out loud that when it comes to health, my beauty or lack thereof meant nothing to me.
I was determined to do whatever I needed to, embrace the present reality to get to my end goal of remission.
For many of us, Pinktober is the least restful time of the year, a time when our personal, daily, pervasive awareness of breast cancer is not even remotely represented by the bright, bouncy public face of pink fundraisers and the ubiquitous evidence of corporate merchandising that surrounds us.
I’ve researched the legitimacy of countless breast cancer organizations, including those who offer financial help. There’s no doubt that many suffer financially having cancer and could use some cash while we’re waiting for a cure. The last time I googled ‘breast cancer organizations,’ I got ten million hits. When I googled ‘breast cancer charity organizations list’ just now, I got three-and-a-half million hits.
Whilst there are organisations like Dr Benn’s Breast Health Foundation that do excellent work in caring for Breast Cancer patients in both rural and urban areas, there are many who spend more money on pink ribbons than they do providing for the patients.
In South Africa, there is no one who is monitoring these organisations effectiveness or activities.
Please let me not get started on these ridiculous “charity/awareness” challenges. How does wearing pink lipstick on a Wednesday or posting a no-make up selfie:
– Spread awareness of Breast Cancer
– Explain the warning signs
– Teach about the importance of self breast checks
– Offer time, energy or effort to the patients
– Do anything of value towards the cause
I’m over the explosion of corporate merchandising known as ‘Breast Cancer Awareness Month’ — aka Pinktober.
Breast Cancer doesn’t only exist once a year. But I’ll force myself to engage as a survivor, post a few facts, some links and grab all opportunities in the Pinktober to speak publicly and educate as many as possible while we have the platform.
This October, my own awareness campaign is far too personal to be represented by a ribbon, a colour or a sash. My personal awareness campaign is about getting my life back, supporting my family and friends, remembering those I have lost, reclaiming my body as my own, finding joy and fulfillment daily. It’s about choosing a path that is not saturated in a color that infantilizes and trivialises the depth of the disease, but one that is spent with those in need, surrounded by spring reminding them that no matter where they are now, they aren’t alone. And I’m taking it one step at a time. Feel free to join me.
Its about how we thrive after we survive that matters.