The color pink, especially in October, has become a simile to Breast Cancer Awareness. From pink colored kitchen tools to 5k runs, the pink ribbons pop up in all sorts of places.
Even football players are wearing pink on the field, with advertisements for Breast Cancer Awareness being broadcast during especially popular NFL games.
Despite Breast Cancer’s abundant awareness in America, women in the United States have a higher risk of getting a terminal diagnosis than any other cancer, besides lung. So even with all of the walks raising money, the cure for this debilitating illness doesn’t seem to be any closer.
As the month of pink is here, my desire for answers increases with every passing year. With all of these funds that non-profits raise, we need to start funneling money for a cure and research.
I question these big organizations and where this Breast Cancer Awareness money is going. Especially because Jen, my wife, has had a recurrence of breast cancer. A terminal recurrence.
She was given five years about two years ago and each passing Breast Cancer season only amplifies this feeling of frustration, especially when I see seemingly useless commercials during football programming. Because, at the end of the day, a lot of this money is going towards advertising and very little is going towards research or for a cure. Why?
With organizations as prominent as Susan G Komen, caregivers and breast cancer patients, like me and Jen, had high hopes for their ability to raise substantial funds. We loved that they were calling into attention something so quietly deadly.
But as the years go by and the treatments remain the same, Komen continues to only donate 20% of their funds to research. At the end of the day, people like us are left feeling high and dry.
Komen donates nearly 40% of their funds to education and awareness, double the amount of cure funds, and this isn’t the only hiccup Komen’s had. Five years ago, around the time that Jen’s recurrence was happening, the Susan G Komen organization attempted to halt funding for breast screenings at Planned Parenthood.
Karen Handel, the ex-vice president of Komen’s public affair, was anti-abortion and her political ideals trumped her ability to empathize with women who needed low cost screening.
Could you imagine our dismay, especially at a time of shock and pain? On one hand they are preaching their staunch beliefs in women’s health and on the other hand they are taking their rights away.
What kind of sense did that make?
All I kept thinking about was what this meant for me, Jen, and many others who previously had so much faith in these kinds of companies.
How many other times had they let us down behind closed doors? I believes that this kind of hypocrisy is far more prevalent than what is shown in the media, especially with cancer non-profits.
But, at the end of the day, I will always believe in the pink. Me and Jen support early detection, understanding your body, and getting consistent check ups during remission because of how painful recurrence can be.
Any survivor, especially if there is pain should go to the doctor and tell them. If it’s nothing, that sense of relief will be like nothing you’ve ever felt before. But getting checked is the key because your cancer could be back. That’s what we found with Jen.
As I watch my wife fight through this every day battle, I remember how little help and how little guidance there is for caregivers like me. There seem to be no self-help YouTube videos, very little community outreach, and absolutely no books on how cancer caregivers can do their best for their loved ones.
There’s none around but that is exactly what’s driving me to make one. As I write this book on caregiving for breast cancer patients, the goal is to speak about different methods of care. This way, I hope to reach caregivers in most thoughtful and informational way as possible. I remember the painful surprise in finding out about Jen’s cancer.
The first diagnosis that your wife has cancer is just a shock and you need to help them through that. And yet at the same time, the caregivers need tools for the battlefield too. I had no outside resources, no one to reach out to, or even tips on what to say to Jen.
The only information I received was from her doctor and they aren’t always telling you things that you want to hear.
The caregiver has to remind their loved one on how beautiful they are and help them through this agonizing time. It’s much easier said than done because you share the pain with your loved one. It takes a serious toll.