Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Games on facebook do not create awareness. IMO.

OK, here we go, a really hot button topic. Breast cancer awareness.
Someone on facebook sent this to me and a bunch of her other female friends:

"Someone has proposed that us, GIRLS, did something special in Facebook to help gain consciousness of Breast Cancer. Its so easy that I'd like you to join us to make it spread! Last year it was about writing the colour of the bra you were wearing in your FB status... and it left men wondering for days why did the girls have colours (apparently random) in our status. This year it has to do with our love relationships, in other words, for the moment you are going through with your relationships. What do you drink?

tequila: I'm a single woman
rum:= I'm a touch and go woman
champagne:= I'm an engaged woman
redbull:= I'm a woman in a relationship
beer:= I'm a married woman
vodka:= I'm the "other one"
sprite:= I'm a woman that can't find the right man
whiskey:= I'm a single woman but with friends that won't stop partying
liquor:= I'm a woman that wishes she was single.
gin;= I'm a woman that wants to get married

Now all you need to do is write down the answer for your situation in your FB status (don't reply this email, just put it in your status). Also, cut and paste this message and send it to all your girl-friends as a message. The Bra game reached the news. Let's make this one make it too and see how powerful women"

to which i respond:
i don't drink alcohol but i'm not single... so, seltzer.

FWIW i think breast cancer has plenty of awareness. I don't know a soul who is not aware of the existence and seriousness of breast cancer.

what breast cancer and all cancer needs, IMO, and what *all* diseases need, is for the funds to go to sick people who can't pay their bills, rather than all of it going for research that may not benefit anyone for 50 years. my 2 cents. It will probably make some people mad, but as someone who has survived brushes with death 3 times now, I think my opinion is worth at least 2 cents.

to which someone responds to me:
"Breast cancer has, for a long time, carried a stigma with it; it was the unspoken cancer because women were embarrased, ashamed. October has been named Breast Cancer Awareness month to help women be aware of their risks and not be so afraid to ask their doctors, family, and friends about the disease. Many, many women don't even know that they should have routine mammograms and numerous lives could be saved it they just knew. Carla, you must be very fortunate to know such women because research proves differently. So adding a simple word to my status is such an easy way to raise awareness and I am more than happy to participate. Just MY 2 cents. My I never have the unfortunate experience to know someone that has to fight breast cancer and may I never have to fight the disease myself. May they continue their painstaking research to find a cure to this disease. "

to which I responded:
We have a lot of cancer in my family. I lost an aunt to brain cancer. My father has to pee through a tube because of bladder cancer. My cousin has a brain tumor that he lives with. Another aunt had a spot removed from her lung. And I have a tumor on my arm. I also live with 4 autoimmune diseases, one of which has almost killed me three times with kidney failure, congestive heart failure and a stroke.

If I thought posting an alcoholic drink in my status would do anything to change any of these facts (even though they are not breast cancer, but actually other cancers and other diseases), I would put it every day, even though I can't drink alcohol.

As someone who was literally bankrupted by illness, I only wish that more effort were given towards helping sick people pay their bills right now. Once in a while there is an organization that focuses on just that. i recently performed for dance for the cure- I took a day off work and donated my performance, as I have done on a number of occasions for support groups for lupus and fibromyalgia. *All* the money from the dance for the cure event goes towards helping families of people with breast cancer. I am not at all unsympathetic. When there is an opportunity to make a real difference, I pitch in.

And FWIW there are lots of diseases out there, many of them life threatening, not just cancer and not just cancer of the breast. but for whatever reason, all the attention and money goes towards one particular disease, and almost entirely towards research. if we had universal health care i'd be OK with that, but even those with insurance are bankrupted by serious illnesses.

I am not saying don't look for a cure, or don't care. Quite the opposite. I am saying don't overlook the actual suffering people while looking for a cure.

Note that I didn't even bother to address the fact that this message was sent on Nov. 27, almost a full month after the end of October, breast cancer awareness month. I also didn't mention that if you really want to create awareness, stupid drinking and bra games trivialize and sexualize a serious illness and is just a form of slack-anthropy, a way to pretend you are helping out without actually doing anything meaningful. If you want to help prevent cancer with your facebook status, then tell everyone to eat 9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, as recommended by the American Cancer Society. That is what I did not say, and should have. So I'm saying it now. I am not playing bra games, or drinking games, or where do you leave your purse games for cancer, or lupus, or any other disease. But I care. I blog. I sing. I perform at events, sometimes for benefits at my own expense. I donate when my friends run marathons for MS and cancer. I even stood in the rain to watch one of them complete a marathon for leukemia. I donate my "junk" to the lupus foundation pickup service. Play drinking games on facebook for fun. But don't lie to yourself and think it's creating awareness, and don't criticize me for not participating.

Comments welcome, as always.
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