Friday, October 5, 2012

Awareness without Action is Impotent

It's October. I wish our Octobers were about 20 degrees cooler on average around here (Central California)  so Fall would actually feel like Fall, but nonetheless, October is my favorite month of the year.

I like Fall. Even here in the middle of California where you have to go on scavenger hunt to find Fall colors among the green. Even though we still see 90 degree weather and you can't carve your pumpkins till the day of Halloween because it takes approximately 48 hours before they turn into a shrivelled, moldy glob.

And, for the last several years now, October is the time of year that everything-- EVERYTHING, from baking soda to handguns-- turns pink.

I'm not sure why they (or even who "they" are, really) chose October, but someone, somewhere, at some time, decided that October was a really good time to focus on breast cancer.

I dig the pink stuff. It's fun. I particularly like the things that turn pink that seem really weird in pink-- like chainsaws or bug spray (BTW, if anyone actually finds a pink chainsaw, please let me know.)

The cancer is strong with my people. I can't even prepare for what sort of cancer I might get, or when I should start worrying about it. Breast, uterine, cervical, ovarian, lung, prostate, bone, pancreatic, thyroid... from early 70's to late 20's... my family gets cancer. (I have every intention of taking after my grandmothers, both of whom are now in their 90s, cancer-free, and kickin like mules.)

I certainly appreciate the current level of support and awareness for cancer and cancer research. Since my great aunt passed away in 1982, the survivability of cancer has advanced by leaps and bounds. I'm all for all that pink stuff and the money it raises for cancer research that makes my personal prospects of facing breast cancer seem more like an excuse to get a boob job and less like a slow, miserable death sentence.

But there's this trend in "breast cancer awareness" that utterly befuddles me, and if you are woman with a Facebook profile, you probably know what I mean.

How the hell does posting the color of your bra, or changing your profile picture promote breast cancer awareness? Especially since these messages make the rounds as private emails with strict admonishments to not give away the reason you're posting your bra color on a particular day?

How does random, out-of-context blathering promote awareness of anything? If we're supposed to keep our reasons for these posts secret, then who, exactly, will be gaining this supposed awareness?!

Also-- is anyone not "aware" of breast cancer? Is there anyone left in the U.S.-- or the western world-- that hasn't heard about breast cancer? Is anyone left living in peaceful oblivion that this is a thing? And, for the love of boobies! if there is someone left who doesn't know about breast cancer, shouldn't we be telling them about it? Not covertly posting fun-- but impotent-- stuff on our Facebook pages that no one understands.

In addition to not understanding the point of these Facebook posting games and how they are supposed to increase "awareness" of breast cancer-- I also don't understand what they intend to accomplish?

It doesn't raise money. No one is paying you to post your shoe size or your bra color or purse color or whathaveyou. Even if, by some miracle, these posts actually manage to increase awareness of breast cancer,  they sure as hell don't help cure it, prevent it, or ease the burdens of the victims and their families who are dealing with it.

If you really want to do something postive and make a difference, donate some money or some time, or both.

Cases where someone is actually losing their battle with cancer are tragic, and those victims and their families can use a lot of help. But let's also remember the not-so-tragic victims: the women (and men) who face chemo or surgery while still trying to hold down a job, keep their small businesses in business; the people who don't have to face the end of life or the end of life as they know it-- for whom diagnosis is (with luck) merely a major inconvenience.

The women who will have to keep their jobs, keep paying their credit card bills and the electric bills, car insurance. Who have to go to work everyday, even when they have to fit chemotherapy treatments into their schedules.

I'm so relieved that there are more and more cases like this, and fewer and fewer cases like my great-aunt.

But as a small business owner who has seen colleagues face this situation and doesn't need to know what color bra you're wearing to be aware that this might be something that I may have to deal with in my own future, your inane online posting means nothing.

I'd rather know that I'll be able to pay my medical expenses, take time off of work without closing my business. That my clients will be patient, that I might have a friendly and supportive colleague or two who will volunteer to stand in for me while I'm recovering from surgery or too miserable to move from chemo. To know I have the emotional support to keep high spirits, the support to help keep my life in motion so that it's still there for me when I'm feeling well enough to rejoin it.

Volunteer to mow the lawn, volunteer to do the dishes or vacuum the carpet, go grocery shopping, return the Red Box movies... not every victim has family to do these things for them. Not every family rallies to these causes. Some friends and families don't step up  because "it's not like she's dying or anything."

There's just so much more you can do that can make a real difference for a real victim of cancer.

But the facebook posting games are fun, they require almost no effort, time, or money and offer a completely false feeling of participation. So go for it-- but let's stop with this whole "keep it a secret" crap. Let's tell EVERYONE why we are posting these things.

Awareness without action makes no progress.

No comments:

Post a Comment