Monday, October 25, 2010
I Think the Month Doesn't Matter
The novelist Joan Didion is quoted, "I write to find out what I think." Well I'm writing and here's what I think...and apparently I had so much unresolved thinking about this particular issue that it spilled out of me like a torrent and I've had to go back and do some editing. Of words that were misspelled in my rush, of words that were more harsh than they really needed to be, of words that were more flying off the handle than helping me to get a grip.
Back to what I think...
I think October is a nice month to celebrate Fall foliage and Veteran's Day and Halloween and Polish American history. And it's as good a month as any to shine a laser beam of focus on Breast Cancer Awareness...but the month doesn't matter I'm always aware. Always aware.
I think I'm so glad that the experts finally stopped recommending that young women do monthly self breast exams. But I'm not happy for the reason you think. I'm happy because now I can stop lying to my mother about doing them in the first place. Nope. Never did one. Not one. Hung the cute pink card in my shower about how to do it and never did one. Thanks, team of doctors for doing the research that lets me off the hook. Sorry mom, for lying to you...about this.
I think the term survivor sucks. If you're the survivor of a train wreck, once the mass of twisted metal has come to a halt and you have walked away from the wreckage, you can safely call yourself a survivor. It's over. You made it. Breast Cancer survival? Not so much. It's like this creeper in the shadow that stalks you your entire life...or at least when you "survive" stage 4 breast cancer that's how it is. You can walk away from the wreckage of surgery, be clean for years and then get the same cancer again. Or a different type. How in the hell is that survival? The only way to be a breast cancer survivor is to die of something else. I think I'm missing the point of why they call them survivors. The National Cancer Institute's website states, "a person is considered to be a survivor, from the time of diagnosis until the end of life." I think that makes about as much sense as declaring victory before you fight the war. Certainly the term survivor is better than victim, but c'mon. Really? Those 40,000 women who will die of breast cancer this year...they're survivors? No. I don't think so. I think they're victims.
I think a girl ought to be able to eat yogurt, or buy batteries, or shop for used furniture on craigslist or do any number of ordinary things without having to be stalked by that (sorry, I think I'm angry) fucking pink ribbon. No, I get it. Believe me. Susan Komen's sister has done an extraordinary thing by marketing this cause and raising awareness and stimulating the research and driving the funding. Extraordinary. The pink wine and the pink Kitchen Aid mixer and the pink Nike sneakers. Unprecedented. But for me, all the pink stuff is tainted now. I'm aware. I get it. It plagues me that my mom is a survivor and sometimes I'd just like to eat my fat free, high protein, double strained Greek yogurt in peace without thinking about prosthesis and surgical drains and tamoxifen and what the hell my father would ever do if he was expected to survive losing his breast cancer survivor of a wife.
I think I'm angry about a lot of this still.
I think it's ok to be angry.
I think October is as good a month as any other month for everyone else to be aware.
I think I'll always be aware.
I think I like pink. But I liked it before.
I think surviving breast cancer is the middle, not the end.
I think I love my mom and I'm glad she's still here.
I think that's what I think.