Tuesday, March 15, 2011

pinkwashing: too much awareness?

Hot topic today: "pinkwashing."

Do we really need breast cancer "awareness" at this point? Aren't we all pretty much aware by now?

I'm not saying it's not a serious disease- it most certainly is- but the campaign around it with coloring everything pink and being reminded of it at every turn is getting to be too much. Meanwhile, women with breast cancer are still being bankrupted by the illness, and unable to access care. Much like so many other diseases.

And worse, the over-attention to the cancer of one specific body part leaves no understanding or funding for the cancers of all the other body parts.

I wholeheartedly agree with this blogger's assertion that cancer is cancer, regardless of what body part it inhabits. I wish all funds and efforts would go equally to all cancers. I also wish that large portions of the money would go to people who are sick *now* so they can get care and pay their bills while they can't work.

I would take it even one step further and say that serious illness is serious illness.  Because I have an autoimmune disease (one that almost killed me), it also get trivialized because it’s not “the big one.”
Excuse me? Kidney failure and a stroke, congestive heart failure and anemia are not serious enough?

I have heard stories of people offering free massages to breast cancers patients getting chemo, but if your cancer was in another body part, you were denied the massage. For breast cancer only.
In my own experience, on a small scale, I felt this same discrimination when I lost my hair (3 times now), I was not eligible to receive a wig from Locks for Love, even though I had had chemo. I had to go buy my own wig, and being as I was broke, I got a cheap itchy $40 nylon wig.

Yes, the women who suffer from breast cancer have a tough fight and many are brave women and admirable survivors. And many women have been lost to this serious disease.
And some of them are tired of being reminded of their cancer every time they go to the store and there's a pink ribbon on everything from tote bags to tictacs.

Also, a number of men and women with other diseases have suffered and died and been trivialized with comments like "at least it's not cancer."
All I'm saying is things are out of balance. And the pink campaign has done such a great job that there's no energy left for any other illness. Suffering is suffering, regardless of the form it takes.

I'm not saying we shouldn't love and care for women with breast cancer. I'm saying we should love and care for everyone, not to have to favor one sufferer over another.

This will never happen, but I wish we could put all the money raised for all diseases into one big pile and use it to help anyone who is seriously ill. I guess I just wish we had universal health care, like every other industrialized nation in the world.  None of us should have to stand around like beggars asking people to help us pay our medical bills because we happened to get sick.

Carla Ulbrich, The Singing Patient,
is the author of "How Can You *Not* Laugh at a Time Like This?"
Get Carla's Book at Amazon.com
www.thesingingpatient.com
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