The Power of Pink

The first day of October is over. It exploded on to the scene with the subtlety of a peptobismal nuclear warhead. All the morning programs showcased support for breast cancer awareness. These are exciting times for breast cancer and a re-energizing the quest for a cure for this scourge that effects so many women (and men) in this country. To tell you the truth I have had several friends diagnosed with breast cancer since last October and I to want to join in support to fight for research, treatment expansion and support those in need. Unfortunately there have been abuses and misuses of pink on the charitable fronts. When I donate I make sure I find out where the money goes. The American Cancer Society is a pretty safe bet because as reported in public record nearly 80% of their budget goes to support breast cancer. This does not really bother me.

What is niggling at me is in the last month, up until and including the dawning of Pinktober, are the complaints on social media aimed particularly at the pink ribbon and the methods utilized to raise funds. Interestingly these criticisms come directly from the breast cancer community that benefits from all the funds raised. Women saying the Today Show was faulty for the way they reported the story of Joan Lundan, critical from the start of her gorgeous cover on People Magazine. This has happened before to celebrities that have decided to "go public" with breast cancer. Actually, it happens every time. I am usually nonplussed by these outcries. I mean, these are celebrities right? Yea for them showing true courage. I have blogged on this before so why rehash things? Well, I received a text from a friend with a link to a breast cancer blog that mentioned "anal cancer" in it, doublewhammied. It's a blog from a breast cancer warrior that has been fighting the disease tooth and nail. This blog entry, titled "What if people treated other cancers like they do breast cancer", called into criticism the "Free the Tatas" campaign that some of you may be familiar with, lamenting the sexualization of their plight. She quotes another "pink blogger"(But Doctor I hate pink) writing “After five years of being truly, horribly sick, I can tell you that [breast cancer] is not a cute, fun little disease that you can play with or have a party about,” she writes. “Breast Cancer is the most trivialized disease in history … Do they have a tighty whitey decorating party for anal cancer?  Let’s put a little brown glitter around the back end of the underwear, hey? Maybe some red sequins to show one of the signs that cancer lurks in that area? Yeah, let’s tell that cancer story through decoration.” Then goes on to mock the Tata campaign substituting colon cancer in the wording. I feel angry at this disregard for the Pink Ribbon and the value it brings to breast cancer patients so in true 'buttwhat" fashion this is my reply.

"The color of ribbon for anal cancer is blue. I think, as I am a sufferer of anal cancer, that you should ask yourself this: What if people treated breast cancer like they treated all other cancers? Let me enlighten you.
Answer: Poorly funded research, perhaps none. Very few clinical trials available – none available for recurrent or second line treatment. Stigma, applied where necessary. Blame. Your cancer is your fault. Silenced voices. Please don’t talk about your cancer, it makes me uncomfortable. Erase pink ribbons, Pinktober, save the boobies…all gone. All the ACS budget, over 80% of it…kiss it goodbye. I could go on, but I think you get the idea.
All cancers are not treated equally and while I understand your point you need to really think about what you are asking for. What I wouldn’t give for somebody to think my cancer is important. You want to put glitter on your underwear and save my ass? Do it! You want to sponsor a blue ribbon run and have so many events across the nation that it will raise raise millions…perhaps billions for research? Do it! Will the White House raise a giant blue ribbon between it’s glistening pillars in support for my cancer? Bring it on. All the donated services supporting my family? I would love that!
You want to be me for a day and have a blue ribbon cancer with all the rights and benefits? Let’s trade. And while, as a woman, I can completely understand your point there is no way in hell as a fellow cancer sufferer you understand mine. There is no equity in cancer. Not even close…you can’t have it both ways, so if you had to choose which would you pick? Poor sexualized well funded well recognized breast cancer or the more respectable, stigmatized, underfunded anal cancer? I am offended by the lack of gratitude for all the pink ribbon, with all it’s faults and misuses, has done for you. How would I like it if somebody made a spectical of my cancer? I would like it just fine thank you…all rights and benefits included."

Okay...maybe a little over the top. I was upset. Not about the mocking of my cancer but over the absence of appreciation of all the good that has come from the pink ribbon campaign. Change comes from within. There are misuses within any large organization. The breast cancer community is vast! I also say it is diverse and while some are offended by many of the tactics used for breast cancer fund raising many, many benefit from them. Some are humorous, not everybody has the same sense of humor. Some are sexualized. Let's face it, boobs are sexy whether we like it or not and they are very very much a part of a woman's body image. It's why reconstruction is so important to many women. It would be important to me. So this month I proudly don my pink and pink ribbon pin every day (for you Jodi and Geri). And to the critics I say, instead of criticizing all that is pink things might be better served if you put all that energy elsewhere. Instead of rejecting it, why not try to harness the power of pink? 

Annabelle sent you a hug.
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I am with those that criticize both the sexualization of breast cancer and the misuse of funds for the same. I too donate to the American Cancer Society so that all cancers can benefit. Lymph nodes are even less sexy than the anus so I don't hold out hope for a sexy campaign to raise money for lymphoma. Having said that, the blood cancers exploit children to raise money and lymphoma receives funds due to the attention those poor bald children with leukemia receive thanks to multiple commercials and online ads. It all comes down to business. It's good business to sell your product with attention-getting ad campaigns whether for tatas or those bald babies with blood cancer.

Mostly I am just mad that my favorite month has been taken over by my least favorite color. Somebody 's doing it right raising money for breast cancer. Too bad a lot of scam artists also jump on the Go Pink bandwagon. They give the good guys a bad name.
Michele likes this comment
Not everybody will like my opinion....but it is nice to know I am no not alone.
Stacy likes this comment
Love your post and the fire within it! I agree I would love the research and funding and options for anal cancer! I wish I could strongly support pink October as I did in the past. I am harboring jealousy for the funding and avenues of care as I continue to fight this beast we call anal cancer.
Michele, Kelly like this comment
Just us being here on this wonderful website is raising awareness of anal cancer and increasing support for all of us. We are actually part of a 'grassroots' movement though we probably don't realize it yet. When I get better, I'd love to join forces with those that can/want to so we can globally raise awareness and funding for more research.
Michele, Betsy like this comment
I have never really got "into" anything Michele.. I have always been doing what I can from a personal level to help anyone who needs it my whole life. I know there needs to be money for all cancers.. one person dying from cancer is to many..and there seems to be less support for cancers other than breast cancer. Breast cancer is in the forefront from what I see and hear. That's good. There are other cancers that need that attention also and when you have one of those "other" cancers you really wish you had the support. It's very hard to find support for throat cancer in my area. Doesn't even exist. But they are always having parties and runs for breast cancer and have plenty of money to give only if you have breast cancer tho.
Hopefully someday we won't need money for it and there will be a cure and we will all have to find something else to get well from.. like to much fun! Hope your feeling happy and enjoying Autumn:)from my heart to yours....hugs and love and always prayers Sabina
Michele likes this comment
Michele, as a fellow anal cancer fighter I think I understand your vent here. (Although I'm not sure what you mean by "respectable...anal cancer?!")

I don't think that we can possibly manage to have the same level of attention and fund-raising for cancers every month of the year. The Pinktober phenonmenon has pretty much taken over. Can't imagine companies shifting every month to a different color and cancer ... btw I had thought colorectal cancer was a blue ribbon...the HPV and Anal Cancer folks had a purple and green one, which I have to confess is not real appealing. Lung cancer - kind of hard to sex that up...penile cancer - well...not something I can see on billboards!

As a retiree I can't donate to everything, and I have not been very happy about the ACS since they dropped their recommendation for an anal DRE - which enabled my PCP to stop recommending/doing that too. I might have found my tumor quite a bit earlier...if the ACS really gives 80% of its budget for breast cancer, then it is not in fact supporting all cancers. My mother and most of her family died of heart disease, which is a major kiler for women. Maybe we should shift some of our effort to heart disease?

It's hard to know what to do. At this point I focus on my attention on the local cancer foundation, which offers support to cancer patients of all kinds, and their caretakers, and does not have the kind of corporate sponsorship that the big guys do.

I used the word respectable in sarcasm...I too give locally. I vented and I confessed to my venting here because it didn't feel released to me. Like I said, I understand their POV but i needed to express mine.
Helen Marshall likes this comment
Sorry, I should have said I imagine this is sarcasm! Speaking of which, "Run for Anal Cancer" might be a little too realistic!
Michele likes this comment
Nothing humbles a girl like pooping her pants, right?
Carmen likes this comment
My grandmother had breast cancer and I know that raises the chance that I might get it someday too. So I do hope all the fund raising and awareness will lead to a cure. But I'm stuck in ass cancer mode and, other than the great AC bloggers here and on a couple of other sites, I feel like the Lone Ranger--STILL! So consider me in pissed off mood for the entire month of October, as I get bombarded with pink on TV, pink on billboards, pink everything in the clothing stores, and even pink damn ribbons on eggs! (BTW, I bought store-brand eggs today, which still came in a pink carton, but it wasn't that color in support of ta-ta's and the eggs were not decorated). Pink, pink, pink! I just can't take it--ALREADY--and it's only the 2nd. day of what used to be my most favorite month of the year.

I really do hope they cure breast cancer because no one, woman or man, should die from that disease. However, no woman or man should have to die from anal cancer either--or any other cancer, for that matter. It's definitely not a fair playing field and my fear is that it never will be for anal cancer. Too much "ick factor," too much stigma, and just not enough people getting it. Until someone with some notoriety or celebrity status gets it and is brave enough to go public, things will not change. Farrah, where are you when we need you?

That's all.

Okay, I'm done.
4 people like this comment
I love you and am by your side! Vent at will, I did and I'm happier for it! I would love blue to be the new pink!
Charity likes this comment
Me too, Michele! Love you too!
Why can't one month be for all cancers. Do fund raisers ....sell shirts caps jewerly offering it in all colors for alll cancers...why just a month of breast cancer...and I totally support breast cancer I haver very close friends and family who have/had it. Raise money for a month and split the money to go to reacher for all cancers! It will be 25 yrs in dec for my hodgkins lymphoma and in 25 yrs we never had a month for lymphoma...or a month for anal cancer..etc..etc...? Just saying☺️😘
Michele likes this comment
I admit that I sometimes feel a twinge of jealousy for all those pink events. I also don't particularly enjoy the cutesy - ness or the sexualization of some of the campaigns. However, I do believe that anything that puts it into the public mind like they have is a good thing and the success of the pink ribbon helps to elevate the attention paid to all cancers. Of course I would love to see more attention focused on anal cancer, but I am not going to fault the methods of others, especially when they have successfully changed breast cancer from something one did not talk about to what it is now ;)
Michele likes this comment
Bit of an aside, but I just want to share my hope for serendipity in all pursuits. NASA is one of my favorite examples of leading unintended discoveries. Another is Bell Labs. In the pursuit of cancer cures, whether breast or other types, surely someone somewhere at sometime is going to stumble on how to make the body restore its ability to kill bad cells. A girl can hope...
Michele likes this comment
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Vital Info


October 3, 2011

Click Here

January 31, 1963

Cancer Info

Anal Cancer

Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the anus

February 5, 2010

Stage 4

2.1 - 3.0 cm

Grade 3


As much as possible

Proceeds from my published blog donated monthly

It is a thief

You have to live every day of your life and stay positive :)

Donate $$ to the anal cancer foundation. Raising awareness saves lives!

Is there anything good about poison?

Bone, lung recurrence 9/20/2012

Cancer Center of Kansas, MD Anderson

Bland diet, sitz baths, take your drugs...nobody gets extra credit for suffering.

Talk, talk, talk to somebody. I chose to write.

April 20, 2010

September 20, 2010

Rectal bleeding, itching, sciatic pain. (thought my hemorhoid was acting up)

My blog has been published and proceeds go to The HPV and Anal Cancer Foundation.


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