This week I have been sharing some stats and posts on Breast Cancer, encouraging people (men get breast cancer too) and helping to share information on what to look for and when to seek medical help. The statistics for breast cancer diagnosis are pretty awful, although more men and women are becoming aware of the need to monitor and check their breasts and now there is better testing for cancers that have a genetic link.
One thing you will know about me, if you follow me on social media, or are friends with me on Facebook, is that I will NEVER take part in the status updates or cryptic posts that people like to start about cancer, in particular breast cancer, or ovarian cancer. I have, in fact had some fairly heated conversations with people about this.
My main problem with these posts is that they are arm chair activism, or slactivisim. You share a post on Facebook, a few people like it, re share it, and comment. You think you have done something for a good cause, and that’s the end of it. Most of the time that happens. I know that some charities and organisastions have said they have got more attention from various campaigns or get togethers on social media, and it has raised SOME awareness/donations, but I am a firm beliver that sharing FACTS and helpful resources is a far more useful way to raise awareness and also promote the charitites and organisations that are doing so much research into cancer.
So, if you tag me in a post asking me what my shoe size is, or where my handbag is, or what colour my bra is, or where I left my keys, and you simply get a comment back with a link to a cancer research website fundraising page, or a link to a page on how to check your breast for signs of cancer, or a link to a blog about someone who is recovering or fighting cancer, don’t be offended. It’s simply my form of activisim.
I watched a friend die, aged 35 of breast cancer. I had known her all of my adult life, she was a good friend to me after my mother died, and we kept in touch after she got married and moved out of London. She had two children. Her son was a baby when she was diagnosed, he does not remember her, her daughter is the same age as Big Girl. She died as she lived, bravely and with such passion and love, for life, her family and friends, that it makes my heart ache, and tears come to my eyes, just to think about it. She didn’t think or know that she COULD get breast cancer so young, she was adopted so has no family history to know what to look out for, and she died far too soon. I went to her funeral, and watched her children cry, not understanding, yet also being so strong and brave, and I have no doubt she would be so proud of them now, as they grow up but she is NOT here to see that, and it hurts. One of the reasons I would opt for a mastectomy if they find I carry the faulty BRA1 and BRA2 genes is because of what I watched my friend Kate go through, and knowing I would give anything to fight for life and I know she would have opted for that, too, if she had known sooner, and before the cancer had taken hold.
I cannot, in her memory, take part in what I see as silly, not really meaning anything, not sharing anything relevant about a killer disease posts or games. I know that sounds mean, and offensive to the well meaning people who start or share them, but I just can’t. It seems so trite and silly. Instead, before you accuse me of armchair activism myself, by simply writing blog posts and ranting a bit on Facebook, I choose to donate monthly to a breast cancer research charity that I firmly believe is doing much work towards finding cures, and better treatments for breast cancer, and I also try and take part in real life events raising money and awareness of breast (and other cancers) and I also am pro active at sharing information, that could save a life, or help someone spot the signs early. I plan to walk/climb a volcano in June 2016, for my 40th birthday, and all money raised will go to the charity that supported Kate as she went into palliative care, and helped her family. She should have been 40 a month before me. I think she would approve of my alternative birthday plans!
So, please don’t be offended, if I don’t take part, when you ask me to. I am trying in my own way to help, and if you want to you can support Breast Cancer Care and don’t forget to Check Your Boobs, or remind the women in your life to do so, and remember men can also get breast cancer, even though it is rarer.
Thanks for reading. This was a Friday’s Rant, that I wish I didn’t have to write. Hopefully one day, we will have a cure for cancer, and women like Kate and thousands more, won’t have to die too young and too soon!