Breast Cancer Awareness Month

This Breast Cancer Awareness Month I Want You To Know This Truth

With the pink ribbon avalanche that arrives every Fall, we know that Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM) is underway. Although BCAM has been credited with raising public awareness of breast cancer, there is nevertheless growing frustration with its off-balance approach to raising awareness, with many key messages getting lost in a sea of ‘pinkwashing’.

I reached out to my network of breast cancer patient advocates to ask them what truths people should know about the disease. I asked them to complete the sentence below:

This Breast Cancer Awareness Month I Want You To Know This Truth….

The following is my own response.

“This Breast Cancer Awareness Month I want you to know that breast cancer isn’t the ‘good’ kind of cancer.  There is no such thing as a good cancer. Cancer, whatever its form, exacts a huge toll on our bodies, our minds, our emotions, and how we will live out the rest of our days.”

Below is a selection of responses I received from the breast cancer community.

“This Breast Cancer Awareness Month I want you to know that breast cancer is different for each person. Some of us don’t “get over it” – it is an ongoing thing in our lives.” – Linda Cantanzaro Boberg

“We don’t need to be reminded this is Breast Cancer Awareness Month Our awareness begins the moment we are diagnosed or find out we are at high risk of getting breast cancer. What I feel strongly about is connecting the community year-round to listen, educate, and be supportive without judgment and without a personal agenda.” – Terri Coutee

“The truth, or at least my truth, is this: breast cancer is a string of losses. It’s not pink. It’s not pretty. It’s not party-like. It’s a horrible disease, something to endure, not an enlightenment program. No need to smile your way through it. Be real. Be you. It’s enough.” – Nancy Stordahl.

“It’s a shame that BCAM has become so commercialized. Pink products are being sold by many scamming companies masquerading as helping breast cancer. Buyer beware before purchasing these products. The truth is this disease is killing over 40,000 metastatic women and 400 men each year in the US alone. Early and late-stage patients are forever daunted by their costly treatments that cause unimaginable side effects. There are too many deaths of friends and family and there’s nothing pretty about losing loved ones to this terrible disease. We must do more especially for Stage IV.” – Susan Zager

“This Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I want you to know that trivializing and sexualizing breast cancer is demeaning for those who’ve gone through treatment for both primary and secondary stages for this deadly, genderless disease. For men, it means a delayed diagnosis and a poorer prognosis.” – Rod Ritchie

“Each breast cancer patient’s journey is unique. Early detection and awareness are key to saving lives. The right support and ongoing research are vital in all the phases of the breast cancer journey.” – Nicole Fuller

As a fitting end to this post, Audrey Birt responded with a poem.

Breast cancer is a thief

Stealing health

Stealing peace of mind

Stealing future dreams


Breast cancer changes your body

Changes your hopes

Changes your friendships

Changes your energy


Breast cancer makes you grieve

for so much


cancer showed me I’m loved

I’m so grateful for that

At the end – and the beginning and all way through

it’s really love that matters.

Closing Thought

This month is a time when it’s important to honor your feelings and emotions. It is your choice to celebrate or not to celebrate BCAM; if you want to sit out this month or use it to educate others in a different way, do so. Everyone should be able to experience BCAM in the way they need and want. Above all, don’t let breast cancer awareness be confined to just one month. Our work as advocates continues long after the last pink ribbon has been tucked away for another year.