Thursday, 8 October 2015

Breast cancer awareness month: A very personal view - through rose tinted glasses?

Author: Kate

I can categorically state that breast cancer is not pink. Nor is it tickly, lucky, like having ice cold water thrown over you, a no make up selfie or shaving your head through choice. These are all things associated with cancer or breast cancer specifically, that I have seen or heard about, all ‘justified’ in some way because they raise money. 

Don't get me wrong, I fully support the raising money element of things. I'm just getting uncomfortable with this, what I can only describe as a need to understand and experience what it's like to have cancer. I don't want anyone to have any concept of how awful it is. Why on earth would I? I didn't want to experience it. I most certainly didn't want my family and friends to have to witness it, so why would I want to see people on Facebook pouring cold water on themselves with the comments 'it's like chemo going into your veins'.

Furthermore, cancer did not make me a survivor, nor brave. I can emphatically state that I am not brave. The most that I will say is I keep getting up in the morning - mostly due to the hormone treatment that seems to have shrunk my bladder but I get out of bed and get on with it. I've been told I always have a smile on my face - of course I do – no one likes a miserable cowardly cancerous person do they? I have not survived cancer - I had a cancer, in the same way I once had a cold. The use of the word 'a' is extremely important to me. Saying I had cancer implies I was cancerous. Referring to myself as cancerous makes people very uncomfortable and rightly so. So I stick with, as much as possible 'I had a cancer'.

I'm being quite negative about things. This is the point that I should refer to all the wonderful things that have happened and all the wonderful people I've met that I wouldn't have if I hadn't had a cancer. It's true, there have been both, particularly the people. However, I'm quite sure that if I hadn't had a cancer wonderful things and wonderful people would have been in my life. My children would not have had to deal with a shadow of a mummy during my treatment, my husband would have the wife he deserves, and I would perhaps innocently feel good about buying a 'pink product' without thinking too deeply had I not had a cancer. 

So what am I really saying? Well, please do give, a little, a lot, but do remember that checking yourself regularly is going do much more for you and reducing cancer death rates than buying a pink product.

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Write for the blog! This blog is one of a series being shared on the Young Women's Breast Cancer Blog UK during October, breast cancer awareness month, but the blog is here year round. If you are a young woman in the UK who has/had a breast cancer diagnosis and you would like to be a part of this blog, please have a read of the additional information here.

Check your breasts
Breast cancer can happen to any of us - regardless of age. Information about how to check your breasts can be found on the Coppafeel and Breast Cancer Now websites.

Further information and support:

Younger Breast Cancer Network UK - an online chat and support group for women under the age of 45 in the UK who have had a breast cancer diagnosis.

Baldly Beautiful - a YouTube channel with make up demonstrations, created by Mac makeup artist Andrea Pellegrini who went through chemo herself in 2014.

Take A Moment - This is a group for women (all ages) who have/had breast cancer who want to explore, reflect on and express their feelings and experiences through photography. This is a link to the public page - to join the group, send them a message.

The Osborne Trust - Providing children of parents with cancer the opportunity to access time out recreational activities whilst their parents undergo operations and treatments

Jen's Friends - Free heart-shaped pillows for women (and men) with Breast Cancer. Designed to provide comfort and protection after a Mastectomy operation.

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